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

The 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 backroads, rural California, open desert and things come and go quickly. On a good topo map, located Olancha Creek and Summit Creek to the south. Walker Creek in 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

Dome Trail 3

Dome Trail

Dome Trail 3

Plumas National Forest Trail #6E21
Access Road #21N51Y
Middle Fork – Feather River
Sierra Nevada mountains @ Berry Creek, CA

On paved Bald Rock Road a rusted metal sign reads “Dome Trail 3” which is where the fun begins, on the dirt.

4.6 miles RT hike
w/ a 2000 feet elevation drop to the river

Plumas Forest Rd #21N51Y is located in the forested community of Berry Creek – opposite from Upper Zink Road. This becomes Bean Creek Rd #21N36: The forested route passes a few private properties and gates, the dirt road leads 3 miles down to an old wildfire (2008) burn area and eventually dead-ends at the Dome trailhead. The hiking trail descends down while overlooking the Bald Rock Canyon with the Middle Fork of the Feather River.

Rated as a moderately difficult hike: Steep hillsides, plenty switchbacks, downed trees across trail, boulder hopping, cliff edges, extreme heights and rock slides. Delighted by dozens of wildflowers, the old metal staircase still in use, steel pipe railings and the minimal fencing and of course, the big river deep inside an impressive rock canyon. Sierra Nevada spectacular!

Trailhead Parking

Indian Creek spills down into Curtain Falls up the canyon, sometimes within view. Secluded Milsap Bar Campground is also up the river from here. The stretch of the whitewater river is popular with rafters and kayaks. Rock climbers gravitate to the big walls above. Bring a picnic lunch and water filter for this amazing all day hike.

Granite Domes & Bald Rocks

There are numerous granite domes and bald rocks within the Plumas National Forest, most located near the big river canyons. This particular granite dome is situated overlooking the Middle Fork of the Feather River, and it is called Bald Rock Dome w/ 3509′ elevation.

MIddleForkFeather

Not to be confused with another shorter hike nearby on Bald Rock Road at a well marked trailhead for Bald Rock, which over looks the forest and valley to the westside. The official peak is named “Big Bald Rock” as listed on most maps.

Dome Land Wilderness

Southern Sierra Nevada Mountain / Domeland / Dome Lands
Kern Plateau, Sequoia National Forest

Dome Land Wilderness

130,081 acres

55 miles of trails (hiking & horseback)

Located at the southern end of the Kern Plateau about 20 miles east of Kernville, granite domes give this area its name. Domeland Wilderness is a unique geologic area with semi-arid to arid mountainous regions. Elevations ranging from 3,000′ to 9,730′ – it is surrounded by National Forest, where the Sierra mountains meet the North Mojave Desert. The Wilderness is the southernmost habitat for the Golden Trout. The South Fork of the Kern and tributary streams attract many fishermen. Vegetation is mostly mixed conifer and piñon (pinyon pine).

The Domeland Wilderness is located at the southern end of the Kern Plateau. This land was first protected by the Wilderness Act of 1964 as a 62,695 acre wilderness and was later expanded to 130,081 acres in 1984 to include the delicate transition ecosystems that meet to the east, south, and north of the original wilderness. These new additions, now jointly managed by the Bureau of Land Management and Sequoia National Forest, are rugged and dry.

Though it is considered within the Sierra range, the Domeland Wilderness includes the overlap of several ecosystems to form unique plant and animal communities. The banks of the South Fork of the Kern River offer important riparian habitats of cottonwoods and meadows which stand in sharp contrast against the characteristic smooth domes and bold granite outcroppings. Domes that range from the size of a cottage to football fields across and spear-like jagged spires can be found in the Domeland. This range is one of the driest in the Sierra with the semi-arid mountains of the north and east crumbling into desert.

Notable Wildfires: Dome Fire 1996. Manter Fire in 2000.

Dome Land trailhead locations:

East side access near Rockhouse Meadow and at the Long Valley Campground (BLM). Access is via Nine Mile Canyon Road (J41) from US Highway 395 or Chimney Peak Road (graded dirt road) via State Highway 178 , the main route that passes Lake Isabella.

West side trailheads are at Big Meadow and Taylor Meadow. Two trails from Big Meadow can be reached from Kernville via Tulare County Road M99, Sherman Pass, and Cherry Hill Roads. Leading to Manter Meadow, the upper Big Meadow Trail is a rugged hike while the lower Big Meadow Trail follows more gentle terrain. The trail from Taylor Meadow (southeast of Big Meadow) also leads to Manter Meadow. North side access is available from the Blackrock/ Sherman Pass Road via the Dark Canyon and Woodpecker trails.

Manter Meadow is popular along with other camp sites located at Little Manter Meadow, Woodpecker Meadow, Rockhouse Meadow, and in the Bartolas Country at the south end of the Wilderness.

Dome Land Wilderness Map USDA

 

surrounding lands & forests –

Sequoia National Forest
Ridgecrest Desert BLM

nearby towns –

National Forest & Wilderness Permits –

USDA Sequoia NF

More Dome Land Wilderness Info & Links –

sierrawild.gov/wilderness/domeland
summitpost.org/domeland-wilderness
Dome Land Wiki