7N01 – Stanislaus NF

Spicer Meadow Reservoir & more lakes: Paved Forest Rd #7N01

Spicer, Utica & Union Reservoirs, Central Sierra, Stanislaus National Forest

summit lake

Stanislaus National Forest
North Fork of the Stanislaus River
Highland Creek
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area
Spicer Meadow Reservoir (6418′ elev)
Union Reservoir (6850′ elev)
Utica Reservoir

Spicer Meadow Reservoir can also be found on various publications, listed as Spicer Meadows, Spicer Mdws, Spicer Lake and Spicer Reservoir.

tent camping

Ebbett’s Pass is California State Route (SR 4) Highway 4, which cuts thru the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains (east-west). Wilderness peaks and rivers surround this whole region. Deep snow pack is common, so much of this region is off-limits half the year (or more). Always check with local rangers by phone before venturing out, as winter conditions can keep these roads closed late into the year.

Topo Maps of this Region:

Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map USDA
Carson, Emigrant, Mokelumne Map NatGeo
Sierra Nevada Topo Map

Wilderness Maps

N of Arnold, California; Continue up SR 4. Passing Calaveras Big Trees State Park & Camp Connell; After Big Meadow Campground, take the paved right turn for Spicer Meadow; This is forest road 7N01. Meandering thru a forest and descending in elevation, road will dead end at Spicer Reservoir.

7N01, the main paved mountain road, is located on the south side of the highway. The highway turn off reads ‘Spicer Reservoir’. Suitable for travel w/ RVs and trucks with boat trailers. Quite curvy, scenic and about 7 miles long. There are developed campgrounds in the vicinity.

The dirt side roads off the pavement can be narrow, muddy, rocky and overgrown, so be cautious when exploring. Choosing a dispersed camp site should be done during daylight hours, and will require a campfire permit ahead of time. Use an existing camp site whenever possible, instead of creating new ones.

freespice

Several man-made reservoirs attract outdoor seekers, mountain bikers, campers, canoes and fishermen. Kayakers tend to love Union and Utica, but power boats and sail boats prefer Spicer Lake.

Volcanic features mix with Sierra granite in this part of the forest, and geologic formations make for interesting hikes. Mountain biking is common around these lakes, as well as day hiking and backpacking.

Spicer Lake

NFS Campgrounds in the region: NFS

  • Stanislaus River Campground
  • Spicer Campground
  • Spicer Group Camp
  • Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible. Boat ramp located near campgrounds.

    outdoor recreation:
    backpacking
    boating
    bouldering
    camping
    canoeing
    fishing
    floating
    granite
    hiking
    kayaking
    mountain biking
    lakes
    sailing
    swimming
    trails
    wildflowers

    Left fork turn off, Dirt Road #7N05 leads out to Utica & Union Reservoirs. No motorized boats allowed on those two lakes. No developed campgrounds back that way either. No RV spots; only primitive style camping.

    Another dirt road treks steeply up the hill from Union Reservoir to Lake Alpine (at the highway). That primitive truck trails is actually a (somewhat designated, but not well-signed) 4×4 route and suitable for high clearance vehicles only.

    car camping lakes

    Spur Road #7N29Y is a small dirt road which leads a couple miles into the forest, over to trailheads and primitive camping options. Ideal for accessing all the lakes (on foot) from this prime location. A fire permit is required. No water, no bathrooms, no facilities.

  • Elephant Rock Lake
  • Summit Lake (7068′ elev)
  • elephant rock

    Closest small towns are:

    ARNOLD
    BEAR VALLEY
    LAKE ALPINE, CA

    lake camps

    7N01 – Los Padres NF
    There is another Forest Road in California named 7N01, but that one is a 4×4 OHV access route @ Dutchman Campground, located in south part of Los Padres National Forest. We have mention of it on the page for Frazier Park Camping.

    Kirkwood Lake

    Kirkwood Lake Campground

    kirkwood granite

    Central Sierra Nevada mountains
    Kirkwood Lake is west of Kirkwood Ski Resort;
    west of Silver Lake @ Carson Pass Hwy 88

    Kirkwood, CA
    El Dorado National Forest

    Inside the granite maze of rock known as Caples Creek, you may find this small lake, just off the highway. Paved access camp ideal for quiet weekends – fish, hike, stargaze and relax. Snow is deep in these parts of the Sierra, so the campground closes annually for winter.


    No motor boats
    No RV or motorhomes
    No horse trailers

    Small Camping Lake

    Kirkwood Campground

    • Elevation: 7,600′
    • Number of Sites: 12
    • Vehicle Accessibility: No RVs
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Campsite Fee: Yes
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: June – October
    • hiking trailheads, fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoe, rock climbing

    Bears are active in this region, so use the metal bear boxes provided to store all food items.

    Canoe Lakes

    Extra precautions should be taken with human waste around fragile eco systems, like lakes and meadows. Use the new bathroom, instead of the bushes (or granite crack).

    new toilets

    new toilets

    pipe drinking water

    piped drinking water, a camp luxury

    Gold Lake California

    lilgoldlake

    Hike-in only Gold Lake, Bucks Lake Wilderness.

    California has more than one Gold Lake!

    goldsign

    Gold Lake, CA

    (Sierra Co)
    6409′ elev.

    The biggest Gold Lake, California is the well-known one, along the Gold Lake Highway in the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. Plumas meets Tahoe National Forest. North of Gold Country Hwy 49, Downieville & the Yuba River. Right where the Sierra Nevada granite meets the volcanic lava rock of NorCal.

    Packer Lake

    Lakes Wilderness Map

    Impressive jagged spires known as The Sierra Buttes (8591′) tower above the stunning lake scenery. This big Gold Lake is surrounded by a dozen smaller alpine lakes which make up the popular region called Lakes Basin. Easy access paved highway, which closes in winter for deep snow and winter recreation. The Gold Lake Highway is also referred to as Plumas County Road #S620

    sierra buttes

    the sierra buttes

    Sardine Peak Fire Lookout lodgeranger rentals
    NFS fire tower – overnight rental overlooking the Sierra Buttes and the serene Lakes Basin, Yuba River, Northern Gold Country CaliforniaUSFS

    LAKES BASIN RECREATION AREA:
    Cabins, camping, lake fishing, backpacking, hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, off-roading, snow-mobiling.

    lakesbasinhikers

    California Lakes

    mini gold lake

     

    Mini Gold Lake

    (Plumas Co)
    6000′ elev.

    Another smaller Gold Lake exist on the granite slopes in Bucks Lake Wilderness – E of Oroville & W of Quincy, CA.

    gold lake trailheadThis hidden gem is a hike-in only lake – and well worth the effort. A somewhat short hike, great ridge line views to the east, although the last half mile of this route is a doozie (moderately strenuous).

    The main trailhead departs from Silver Lake and climbs a ridge line that heads over to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). An off-shoot trail goes another mile to the miniature Gold Lake, a granite bowl of sheer beauty. A great day hike for those wishing to see the backcountry. Pack your picnic lunch, camera, and make a whole darn day of it!

    Swimming & skinning dipping seem quite natural at this alpine lake, since it is a pretty remote location (without a lot of visitors) and there is absolutely no swimming allowed at neighboring Silver Lake.

    bucks trailhead

    The steep, overgrown, rocky shoreline leads one to bush whack through old trails, only to be met by a rock slide. Many dead ends and obstacles to climb around, or over. Some way… maybe, or maybe not!

    Boulder and rock scrambling is the key phrase to remember, once you reach this lake. Knees may be sore from climbing, up and over the boulder ledge surrounding the lake bowl.

    goldshore

    Bucks Lake Wilderness Map

    A few primitive camp sites are scattered about on the edge of the lake for those backpacking in, but be warned – they can be very difficult to reach. Much more suitable campsites can be found scattered throughout the area.

    Warning: there are no flat, lush meadows to lounge in up at the lake, so pick yourself a side route (on the walk in) to find real seclusion and privacy.

    view to Quincy

    This mile-long-ridge hiking trail to mini Gold Lake has some amazing views down to the east side – Jacks Meadow right below; then Meadow Valley & Quincy off in the distant hills. Plumas County from above.

    jacks meadow

    jacks meadow, way below

    Sierra Nevada Lakes

    High Sierra, California

    hike-in only lakes

    hike

    Golden Bear Lake
    (Tulare Co)
    12,000′ elev

    High Sierra – Kings Canyon National Park
    Center Basin / Center Peak 12,760′
    PCT – Pacific Crest Trail
    North of Mount Whitney
    Eastern Sierra, Independence, CA

    hike

    Golden Trout Lake
    (Inyo Co)
    11,500′ elev

    Trail #3306 from Onion Valley Campground
    North of Mount Whitney
    Eastern Sierra, Independence, CA

    goldentroutlakecanyon

    onion valley trail views

    19S01 – Inyo NF

    south sierra ridges

    Walker Creek Road #19S01
    – Inyo National Forest

    Southern Slopes, Eastern Sierra Nevada

    Just south of Olancha, off US Hwy 395 is a dirt road that takes you 5 miles up to an oak canyon lined with rocks. There are several primitive camp sites along the Walker Creek. A high clearance vehicle may be needed in some sections, but 4×4 is not required. Small RVs might attempt this, but if the first mile frightens you, turn around while you’re ahead.

    Dirt Road near 395

    This private, shaded, creek area is perfect for those traveling Highway 395, looking for a quick and free camp spot near Olancha, CA

    nice shady spots
    Shady picnic or camp spots above 4000′ elevation.

    some granite
    Hiking trails at the end of the road lead deep into the mountains. One on the right takes you to waterfalls. The trail on the left will take you to meet up with the Sage Flat Trail, which leads up to Olancha Pass, Summit Meadows & a small lake, in the South Sierra Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail runs the ridges here, just west of Monache Meadows, which is at 8000′ elevation, way above here – up on top. 

    First Camp

    US 395 highway – the dirt road turn off is very close to a gas station, and it maybe be signed, or not. The gas stop may be in business, or perhaps not. This is rural California, wide open desert and things come and go quickly.

    On a good topo map, located Olancha Creek and Summit Creek to the south. Walker Creek is the canyon in between those two, just so know where you are going and can visualize. This one is an easy-to-miss dirt road turn off – especially if you are going over 50 mph.

    National Forest Cabins

    California Fire Lookouts for Rent
    US Forest Service Cabins

    red cabin

    NFSlogo
    Rent a secluded cabin with an amazing view, a historic tower for wildfire spotting, or a USDA guard station – hidden deep inside California National Forests. Several of these NFS lookouts have been closed recently, so the ones listed below have links to status and reservation information. Dirt road access is common to reach these locations. Winter months are usually snowy, inaccessible and sometimes dangerous for these high country locations. A FEW are open all year long – in the southern part of the golden state.

    El Dorado National Forest USFS

    Harvey West Cabin
    4,720′ elev. on Silverfork American River, Gold Rush

    Loon Lake Chalet
    6375′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

    Robbs Peak Lookout
    Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin

    6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

    Sly Guard Cabin
    Sly Park @ Jenkinson Lake, near Placerville, Gold Country California

    Van Vleck Bunkhouse
    6549′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

    Lassen National Forest USFS

    McCarthy Point Lookout
    overlooking Mill Creek Canyon and Ishi Wilderness

    ranger & info 530-258-2141

    Plumas National Forest USFS

    Crocker Guard Station
    5700′ elev. near Lake Davis Loop, way out behind Portola, California

    Big Bear Lake 2002

    San Bernardino National Forest USFS

    Morton Peak Fire Lookout
    SoCal Mountains, Big Bear Lake Area,
    near Forest Falls, CA

    Coon Creek Cabin
    Group Camp Site
    Heart Bar Rd #1N02 near Angeles Oaks, CA

    Sequoia National Forest USFS

    Big Meadows Cabin
    Big Meadows Guard Station

    off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
    7600′ elevation; in between Sequoia NP & Kings Cyn NP

    Camp 4 and a half
    1100′ elevation; Lower Kings River Cyn
    near Hume Lake & Kings Canyon NP

    Mountain Home Guard Station Cabin
    6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

    Oak Flat Lookout
    Oak Flat Cabin Rental
    4900′ elevation; Kern River canyon near Lake Isabella, CA

    Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
    open all year round
    4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

    Quaking Aspen Cabin Rental
    Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide near Ponderosa, CA

    Wishon Campground & Cabin Rental
    Giant Sequoia National Monument; open all year round
    4000′ elev. near Camp Nelson, CA

    Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

    Forest Glen Guard Station
    near Trinity River & Forest Glen, CA

    Girard Ridge Lookout
    Historic Fire Lookout Tower
    4809′ elev. near Dunsmuir, CA

    Hirz Mountain Lookout Tower
    Hirz Mtn. Fire Watch Tower Rental
    overlooking Shasta Lake, CA

    Harris Springs Guard Station
    near McCloud, CA

    Little Mount Hoffman Lookout
    Mt. Hoffman Rental
    7000′ elev. near McCloud, CA

    Post Creek Guard Station
    near Hayfork & Platina, CA


    Sierra National Forest USFS

    Camp Four and a half Cabin
    Lower Kings River, open all year round
    1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir


    Six Rivers National Forest USFS

    Bear Basin Butte
    Cabin & Fire Lookout

    elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
    10600 Highway 199
    Gasquet, CA 95543

    Tahoe National Forest USFS

    Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
    near Sierraville, CA

    Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
    overlooking the Sierra Buttes and the serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, Northern Gold Country California

    lakes basin views