Tag Archives: open spaces

California Countryside Hikes

California Wine Country Hikes, Gold Country Hiking, Sierra Foothills, River Trails

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California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

  • Alta Sierra
  • Beasore Meadow, way up behind Bass Lake, CA
  • Big Meadow Road #22S12, Dome Land
  • Big Meadows Road #14S11
  • Butte Meadows
  • Camp Nelson
  • Dixie Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Drakesbad Ranch, Warner Valley – Lassen NF
  • Dunderburg Meadow, off Green Creek Rd
  • Eastern Sierra Canyons
  • Gold Lake
  • Green Creek Road
  • Holey Meadows Group Camp, Western Divide
  • Horse Meadow Campground, Road #22S12
  • Horseshoe Meadows Road
    w/ Cottonwood Lakes Campground (10,000′ elev)
  • Inyo National Forest
  • Jackass Meadow – way up behind North Fork
  • Kennedy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Kennedy Meadows Pack Station, Sonora Pass
  • Kingsley Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Lakes Basin Recreation Area
  • Lake Tahoe CA
  • Lassen National Forest
  • Leland Meadow, Pinecrest, CA
  • Little Shasta Meadow Botanical Area, east of Yreka, CA
  • Long Meadow Campground, Sequoia NF
  • Mammoth Lakes
  • >Manter Meadows>, Dome Land
  • Meadow Valley rural btwn Quincy & Bucks Lake
  • Mendocino NF names these Glade, instead of meadow
  • Mill Potrero Highway, Pine Mountain CA
  • Mount Pinos Recreation
  • Monache Meadows
  • Mountain Home State Forest
  • Panther Meadows Campground, Mount Shasta
  • Plaskett Meadows Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Ponderosa, California
  • Red’s Meadow Campground, Mammoth Lakes
  • Red’s Meadow Resort & Pack Station
  • Redwood Meadow Campground, Giant Sequoia
  • Rock Creek Road: Iris Meadow & Big Meadow Campgrounds
  • Powell Meadow, Sequoia NF
  • Sequoia National Forest
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Shaver Lake
  • Shirley Meadows Road #25S15
  • Sierra National Forest
  • Stanislaus National Forest
  • Sugarfoot Glade Campground, Mendocino NF
  • Thousand Lakes Wilderness
  • Toiyabe National Forest
  • Troy Meadows, Sequoia NF
  • Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite Highcountry
  • Upper Summer Meadow Road, off Green Creek Rd
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Lupine Drive

    Rules of the Meadow

    Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

    No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

    Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires on the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading.

    Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas.

    When hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

    Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

    Snow Mobiling

    California Parks List

    California Parks and Recreation

    State Parks, State Forests, State Recreation Area, National Parks, National Monuments, National Forests – What is the Difference?

    public lands

    Forest, Park, Reserve, Monument, Recreation Area, BLM, Nature Preserve… arghh!

    Don’t let all the park and forest names confuse you. It is all California and it is your public land! No bikes on trails, No gathering wood, No dogs here, No camping there; Now what?


    Sequoia – which one?
    Sequoia National Park
    Sequoia National Forest
    Giant Sequoia National Monument

    Imagine that the Southern Sierra mountains is home to 3 different public parks named Sequoia. Yep, it’s true. Sequoia National Park, Sequoia National Forest, and Giant Sequoia National Monument. Mountain Home State Forest aslso has Sequoia trees, as well as Yosemite Np.

    The super scenic Big Sur coastline is home to Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park and to the similarly named Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. Leave it to the park personnel or the non-locals to create such a confusing naming system within our most-visited state.

    Below is our overview graph for all California parks and forests – the basic concepts & the rules broken down for anyone to understand. Permits may be needed in certain areas. Only the government officials understand the true nature of all the ridiculous red tape.

    CA Wilderness Areas California Wilderness Back country lands very protected from roads and human impact. Off limits to vehicles & mountain bikes. Only accessible by backpacking, hiking or horseback. Endangered species; Hard to reach terrains in the High Sierra. Overnight visits may require a wilderness permit.
    CA National Parks California
    National Parks – NPS: National Park Service
    Federal lands are national parks, preserves & monuments; highly regarded as some of the most scenic in world & protected.  Very popular places and crowds often in summer. Limited use areas for camping & recreation. No mountain biking on trails. No dogs on trails. Try off-season. Drive thru entrance fees.
    NM: California
    National Monument
    Located within the National Park System & more specific to a region. Historic buildings, geological features and deserts ruins qualify. Some National Monuments become National Parks. Many locations have entrance fees.
    NRA: National Recreation Area Located within the National Park System & somewhat specific to a waterways, coastlines, lakes and reservoirs. Some locations have entrance fees.
    NSA:
    National Scenic Area National Seashore
    Located within the National Park System & is basically scenic area worth preserving. Usually no entrance fees.
    California National Parks
    California NFS:
    CA National Forests
    USDA Forest Service
    Areas of forest lands throughout state; some surround the National Parks. 18 national forests make up 20 million acres of federal land. Multiple use areas: snow skiing, mining, grazing, off-roading. OHV & SVRA Tons of small campgrounds, recreation & primitive spots for real seclusion. Best bet for finding a spot away from the crowds. Get a free fire permit & camp on back roads. No entrance fees, some parking or day use fees; SoCal requires an Adventure Pass.
    California State Parks
    California SP:
    California State Parks
    California Department of Parks & Recreation manages more than 260 parks. These smaller parks are located near cities with historical parks, as well as remote wild state land & coastal beaches. Entrance fees, day use, picnic and some have campgrounds. State Parks charge fees for day use, parking and overnight camping.
    California SF: California State Forest California Demonstration Forests, areas to be protected. Redwoods & Sequoia Groves; fragile eco-systems. Handle with care. May charge entrance fee or day use fee.
    California SRA:
    State Recreation Areas
    California Department of Parks and Recreation. Lakes, Reservoirs, Rivers. Many have boat rentals and active marina. Recreation lakes charge entrance, day use, parking or boat launch fees.
    California OHV & SVRA: Off Hwy Vehicle Area and State Vehicle Recreation Areas Off Roading folks and dirt bikes can have their fun wheelin. Lands set aside for OHV use,; dune buggies, quads & 4×4 enthusiasts. Most in the desert regions; Some forest lands & Central coast, but some NFS areas allow
    this vehicle activity as well. Always entrance fees.
    California County Parks Desert hot springs, oak foothills and campgrounds, local hills w/ hikes, parks close to urban regions. Back roads & rural land protected from freeways & development. May require parking or entrance fees. Find these listed on the California A-Z town pages
    City Parks in California Urban Parks & Recreation, inside the city limits. Usually no entrance fees. Find these on A-Z town pages
    blm camps
    BLM: public lands Bureau of Land Management All public lands that do not fall into the above categories. Little to no fees for day use, recreation or overnight camping. Plenty of desert & off roading areas. Camp almost anywhere out here for free, with a ranger issued fire permit.

    topo maps

    Find California Park Maps

    Wilderness with Horses Sierra Ski Maps Camping California Wilderness Rangers Snow Ski Topo Maps Mountain Biking Maps
    Wilderness Hikes Wilderness Hiking Maps Wilderness Topo Maps Sierra Fishing Maps Sierra Topo Maps California Hiking Maps

    California Outdoor Recreation:
    All parks, forests, preserves, monuments, public lands, lakes, rivers, wilderness, historical sites and museums can be found listed separately on our super local A-Z town pages