Tag Archives: stream

Gurnsey Campground

bestcampgurnsey

Gurnsey Creek, Lassen Forests & Fishing

NFS Gurnsey Creek Campground: W of Chester, CA

A developed USDA campground along forested Highway 36, near the junction of Chico’s Hwy 32. This stretch of 36  overlaps with north-south Lassen Hwy 89. Awesome fishing creek, meadows, hiking trails and mountain biking trails nearby. Paved, level camp sites w/ easy access to Lassen Volcanic Park and the National Forest.NFSlogo

This is a popular camp just south of the Lassen National Park boundary and 5 miles east of Child’s Meadow Resort. Car camp, tent camping, some spaces for large motorhomes. Plenty fishing, hiking and mountain biking trails.

gurnseycreek

Gurnsey Creek Campground, California

on Gurnsey Creek; Campground open May-October
(depending on snow)
gurnseysign

Lassen Creek Camping

52 camp sites on Gurnsey Creek @ 4700′ elevation; vault toilets, creek and piped water, bear boxes; first come, first serve camping – and reservations are also accepted

GURNSEY CREEK CAMPGROUND

Max Camper Length: no limitations
Shady forest camp sites w/ creek. Numerous fishing spots. Close to Lassen Volcanic National Park, Chester and Lake Almanor. Backpackers, day hikers and horseback riders will enjoy the PCT nearby. Pacific Crest Hiking Trail runs to the east side of this campround.pct

CHESTER, CA ranger
Rangers Office: 530-265-4531
Almanor Ranger DIstrict, Lassen NF

GROUP CAMP RESERVATIONS NFS

2 reservable Group Camps are available at this campground. Group Site 1 can accommodate up to 56 people; Group Site 2 can accommodate up to 112 people.

Free Camping nearby.
If you are seeking primitive camping in this Lassen area, look for dirt roads in the USDA National Forest lands, which surround the National Park boundary.

to the west – Lassen Road #14 – the Blue Ridge, north off of Hwy 89 @ Mineral.

to the south – Yellow Jacket Road #29N48 around Turner Mountain, which is south-southwest of Mill Creek.

to the east – Lassen Road #10 – head north off of Highway 89 in between Chester & Westwood.

see also – Lassen Lakes

lassen park mapHighly advised: a real map, a printed ‘hard copy’ shows both the National Park and the National Forest of Lassen on one map – with topographic features, all mountain peaks, creeks, lakes, trailheads, plus all dirt and paved roads.

Trailheads near Gurnsey Campground lead out to –

NEARBY TOWNS:


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Gurnsey overview
Mature forested, creek campground, close to the highway

Sierra NF – Road #9

sierra10S69

Sierra National Forest
Big Creek Road #9

aka. Rd #10S69

Connects Pine Flat Reservoir @ Lower Kings River, to upper elevation Sierra forests near Dinkey Creek Road. McKinley Grove of Sequoia

Sierra Road number 9 is a north turn off of Trimmer Springs Road. Marked as National Forest Rd #10S69, as well as just plain NINE. Big Crk. canyon is after the Maxson Road junction, and before the Balch Camp / Blackrock Reservoir turn off on #11S12. The area is known for abundant wildflowers in the early season.

dirt road climbs 25+ miles thru Sierra NF

sierra9

  • back road exploring
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • kayaking
  • picnic areas
  • swimming
  • wildflowers
Tall White Lupine
Tall White Lupine

Big Creek Rd 9

A popular dirt road drive for the western Sierra – Pine Flat Lake region. A forested, south facing canyon in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Big Creek, wide, graded, dirt road w/ primitive camp sites. 4×4 could be needed in wetter months.

The higher you go on this route, the more pine trees you will experience. Winter weather can close this route. A campfire permit is required to camp along this road.

The lower part of the canyon has rock features, small waterfalls, swimming holes, picnic spots and sometimes cattle grazing. Several prime unmarked, primitive camp sites along this road – but few and far between. High clearance or 4WD may be needed, depending on road conditions.

sierra hiker

Soaproot Saddle Road is a not-so-obvious left fork (dirt, without signs) that leads steeply up away from main road. Climbs a steep hillside, way up above and along Rush Creek; continues for many miles. Less people back this way, if you are seeking seclusion. Few primitive camp sites on right side of road, near where the creek breaks away from road. Good for stargazing way back here. 4×4 may be needed. Road may or may not connect through to desired destination.

The mid-route climbs into pine forest and the dirt road switchbacks, steeply, with a few more camp sites available; usually found on short side roads off the main road.

sierra creek camps

At Sierra #9, a major junction w/ dirt road #10S69, called Dinkey Trimmer Road. This leads way off through the rugged terrain, many miles, over to the pavement at Dinkey Creek Jct – Campground, Trailhead and Dinkey Lakes Wilderness.

Big Creek will turn left (north), and follows the large Big Creek Canyon. Several steep miles climb up into the dense pine forest, following the creek the whole way. Several prime creekside camp sites fill up fast in this stretch. Great views, steep dirt roads. GPS waypoint these camp driveways – so you can find it next time, (first, before everyone) on Friday, Thursday before midnight.

Peterson Mill Road is Rd #10S02, found on the left (west) side of Sierra #9. That westbound route becomes pavement half way back to Highway 168. This way is the quickest way from Fresno, out to the developed NFS Bretz Campground.

Sierra #9 Big Creek Road arrives in the densest of forests. Many camp sites and side routes to explore. Dark, upper elevations, snow lingers long in the shade. 4WD may be needed in wet areas. Mud is quite common MOST of the year in this spot, so know your vehicles capabilities before you get yourself stuck (or stranded). It’s a very long walk to any kinda civilization!

Hunters like to use these upper camps during hunting season. A camp fire permit is required, so bring your shovel and bucket; self-sufficient campers enjoy the back roads most often.

wild sierra flora

Bretz Campground NFS is up here on the main road, number nine. Clock it w/ dash trip meter; 15 miles from the road start @ Pine Flat Lake. Popular with OHV and 4×4 groups. Max RV or trailer length = 24′
Open all year long; No fee.

Sierra Forest Road #9 the far north end, enters Blue Canyon @ #10S18, but the Rd #9 route continues NE as Providence Creek Road. Eventually intersecting @ Dinkey Creek Rd w/ Rock Creek & Dinkey Dome closeby. Great granite 4×4 Trail @ Bald Mountain (elev. 7832′) overlooking Shaver Lake.

Jeepers on granite @ Bald Mtn, above Shaver Lake, CA

Kings River Camping

2 tone lupine

SIERRA MAP
sierra National Forest map

places nearby –
shaver lake map

Balch Camp (utility & NFS)
Black Rock Reservoir
Courtright Reservoir
Dinkey Creek
Huntington Lake
Lakeshore, CA
Pine Flat Lake
Shaver Lake, CA
Trimmer Springs
Wishon Reservoir

Sawmill Lake Sierra

primitive camp spots

Sawmill Lake, California


N of Donner Pass, Sierra Nevada

elevation 5800′Canyon Creek connects Lake Faucherie, Sawmill Lake and Bowman Reservoir in the Sierra, Tahoe National Forest. 20+ miles of backroad travel, off I-80.

While many consider Faucherie to be the most beautiful scenic lake, Sawmill Lake just downstream a couple of miles is still quite attractive – with dense forests and a granite mountain backdrop. Sawmill is especially nice for those who like to primitive camp, ouside of developed campgrounds. Way off the interstate @ Hwy 20, tucked in way back behind Bowman Lake a few miles, you can find Sawmill Lake.

Sawmill Lake California

Fishing and camping, kayaking and canoeing are all popular recreation around this lake. A trailhead on the northend of the lake leads out to even more alpine lakes (a day hike “lake loop” or backpacking option). The Pacific Crest Trail is also routed nearby.

No motorized boats or watercraft allowed. No boat ramps, no pavement, no picnic tables, no bathrooms, no fees.

4×4 Lake
Fishing Lake
Free Camping Lake

The north shoreline is abundant with dispersed campsites: metal fire rings and a clearing only; no picnic tables, no toilets. Self sufficient campers only. Campfire permits, a water bucket and a shovel are required. During extreme fire restrictions campfires may not be allowed. Check with local rangers for up to date info.

Tahoe National Forest
Truckee Ranger Station
530-587-3558

National Forest Lake & Forest Lake Fishing Kayak lake hiking lake

Most campsites are drive up and park, while others closer to the shoreline have only walk-in access. Hauling your gear down hill won’t seem unthinkable once you’ve seen the lakeside views. There is even a camp below the dam, next to the waterfall.

waterfallfromdam

The main access Road #843-037 is very rocky and 4x4s love to frequent the area. The backroads here are best suite for truck travel, high clearance vehicles, off-roaders and SUVs. No small RVs or trailers. Passenger cars are not recommended. The access roads around the lake and up to the lake are dusty and rugged. The road below the dam is quite rough w/ rocks.

For more driving details, please see entry on Canyon Creek Campground.

road at dam
The water at Sawmill Lake is crystal clear snowmelt. The lakes around here are managed by Nevada Irrigation District, so this is why there are no engines allowed on the lake. This canyon area closes to public entry during winter months (NOV-APRIL), due to deep snow.

clear water

Canyon Creek Campground

Tucked way back in the granite high elevations, near Donner Pass is a wilderness water flow called Canyon Creek. Connecting small lakes and big reservoir, this creek is part of the Nevada District water supply. The Sierra Nevada region is Tahoe National Forest and the terrain is abundant rock.

Campground is perched on the edge of rock overlooking the impressive whitewater; sounds of crashing water at certain campsites is deafening. Half of the campsites are located in a forest loop and the rest are out in the open, with much granite and fewer trees, perfect for star watchers. All campsites have new bear boxes – for proper food storage in black bear country.

Canyon Creek California

creekcanyon

Lake Faucherie is a mile up the creek and Sawmill Lake is a mile down stream, so it’s a great fishing location, as well as hiking, kayaking and canoeing destination. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is also routed close by. A hiking trailhead at the north end of Sawmill Lake leads to a loop hike of small lakes.

Tahoe Rd 843

roughest roads in the region

Campground loop is paved, but the 12+ mile access road is NOT.
Twenty plus miles of paved & gravel backroads in boulder-hopping bliss, leads to granite lined lakes and forested campsites. Two different driving routes into this canyon:

  • One is the longer way Road 18 – paved access off of Gold Country Highway 20, which becomes an 8 mile long, rocky, rough, one-lane road around Bowman Lake.
  • The other is slightly shorter, county road #843 that comes in the back way from Jackson Meadow Reservoir (off Hwy 89, N of Truckee).
  • Both of these primitive roads join at Jackson Creek Campground, a favorite among off-roaders.

    Canyon Creek Campground is another few miles up Road ##843-037, a rugged canyon route towards Lake Faucherie, where the road comes to a dead end.

    Don’t let the old maps fool you: these National Forest Roads are labeled as gravel roads, but boulders and rock slides are quite common. 4×4 would be nice, but high clearance is recommended.

    Minimal signs designate trails, roads and lake access; What signs that do exist are old, faded and broken. No warning signage reading ‘high clearance’ or ‘4WD recommended’ – so obviously Tahoe NF won’t be installing new signs anytime soon.

    Grassy Picnic Faucherie Lake

    Faucherie, Sawmill and Bowman Lakes are all along this waterway called Canyon Creek.

    Latitude: 39.436863
    Longitude: -120.579564
    Canyon Creek Campground

    • Elevation: 6000′
    • Number of Sites: 20
    • Toilet: Vault
    • Vehicle Access: High Clearance Vehicle, no trailers
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Camp Fee: No
    • Length of Stay: 14 Days
    • Season: June – October
    • Trailheads: Faucherie & Sawmill Lakes

    Small Site

    Canyon Creek Campground is an excellent campground for staying away from the crowds, which seem to focus more around Bowman Lake & Jackson Meadows Reservoir.

    granite camp

    Prefer camping outside of developed campgrounds? then the primitive camp sites that line Canyon Creek will be a welcomed surprise. Most are clearly marked with small signs and some may require 4×4 to access. When fire restrictions are tight, campfires are only allowed in the developed campgrounds.

    granite loop

    Creekside Camping

    California Creek Camping

    California Camping CreeksClear cool stream waters flow from snow melt at 10,000′ elevation, down to these pristine camps at under 4000′ on both sides of the Sierra. The further you drive up the mountain, the better it gets. Where the Eastern Sierra side tends to be more dramatic desert like with sage brush, the western range is much more lush with ferns & dense trees.

    Everyone dreams of it. The perfect camp, along the creek. Maybe a waterfall or two, a shady hammock spot & plenty of trees, a flat tent spot, maybe a view. A big, sturdy, rock fire ring (without a bunch of broken glass in it).

    This dreamy camp isn’t only in your imagination, nor is it at the local county campground a few miles from home. This kinda beauty & rare finds are out there, deep in the back woods, the mountains. You gotta know where to look & what to bring in order to have a good, easy, relaxing time.

    These secluded sites really are around in your favorite forest, way back there. Best of all, they are free.

    forest mapsHaving the opportunity to camp in your very own private, secluded spot, along dirt roads, outside of the annoying rules and fees of a developed campground is a privilege. Use these lands wisely and be a responsible camper. Camp eco-wise! Respecting the land, knowing some basics and following fire safety precautions is all mandatory. A topographic hiking map or a National Forest map is optional, but highly recommended.

    Creekside Camping CaliforniaCreek water can make an easy refrigerator if the cooler is full. Chill that bottle of wine, keep the watermelon cool .. just don’t forget about it. (cuz that kinda litter maybe a welcomed good surprise for the next camper.) Secure your wet creek valuables. Even a heavy watermelon can float! Put some rocks around items or tye them in a mesh bag, with rope, something to keep them from getting away in the swift water.

    There is nothing that beats a good detailed forest map of where you are going. If you are the type of person who can never make a straight B-line for home on Sunday afternoon, and find yourself wandering just for the sake of wandering – then it’s best to have a larger state wide map like this beauty from Benchmark Maps.

    California Creekside Camp Sites

    Small Campgrounds on a Creek

    Primitive Style – Dispersed Camping secluded camp sites

    If you are the kinda sport who can really rough it, you may learn to love it. After your first real back woods camping experience, the privacy, serenity and beauty of the land will inspire and relax you so much, that the drawback on the lack of toilet won’t bother you.

    Make a new hobby of learning how to stay away from the crowds. The less cars you see at camp, the better. Learn to be immersed within nature and enjoy your space outside. Unwind, next to the creek in the shade, with a chair and read for hours, or bring the sketchbook, or just daydream as butterflies go floating by.

    • Remember to be camp clean, California is black bear country.
    • You’ll need a free camp fire permit; pick up at the local rangers station.
    • Classic camp potty info.  Proper disposal of human waste is important.
    • Use biodegradable soaps when outside.

    Streamside Camping Basics

    what you need:

    capable vehicle – SUV or Truck, high clearance is best. 4×4 is NOT required. AWD wagons should be more cautious when venturing out on the back roads. 2WD is fine for most graded dirt roads, but way out exploring dirt roads, deep mud and snow is quite possible.

    destination – Pick a locale. A general area you wanna check out. Not a quickie overnight deal, but an enjoyable lazy multi-day camping trip.

    exploration – Narrow down a canyon or river that you have always wanted to explore. The Sierra Nevada & NorCal is the place to concentrate your efforts, as SoCal is near desert climate w/ way too much development.

    more maps please – National Forest map or similar backroads Map/Atlas. Large topo maps may be too detailed, but will do okay for finding dirt roads (& backpacker trailheads also).

    The more homework you do before hand, the better chances of finding that secret camp spot, especially on holiday weekends. Go ahead & call the forest rangers. Have your decent topo maps handy, along with pen and paper. That’s what they are there for. Have a list of questions on specific areas you want more info on. If you do the prep work well in advance, it makes a more enjoyable camp trip. Cuz you’ll be less worried about finding the ultimate places (before dark, or before the other guy does). With your new profound Wilderness Vision, you will have not only a plan B ready, but a plan C as well.

    what to look for:

    getting permits – If you really wanna camp like this, all secluded on the dirt back roads without the hordes of other campers nearby…. you’ll need a capable vehicle, a camp fire permit & the understanding of the concept “totally self sufficient campers”. This means bringing your own water, a bucket, a shovel, maybe some firewood, plus packing out all your own garbage, plus any litter left over by the last campers. It’s the least you can do, not having to make reservations. Visit the FireSafe page

    it’s on your map – After you have a general area narrowed down, some place you always wanted to go, then it’s time to get your maps out & start reading them. Or at least staring at them – maybe over a meal, whenever you have free time to study it. Look for dirt roads, the further off the paved roads is not necessarily the better. Some of the best camp sites are within a few short miles from the pavement, so get them maps out & start visualizing.

    gas up – Make sure you fuel your vehicle before you head into remote areas (like the ones we are mentioning). Maybe even an extra can of gasoline too, just in case.

    the blue lines – You’ll know a decent road when you see it. When you start planning at home, you need to concentrate of what dirt roads are along what water sources. And will these streams be flowing at this time of year? Many are seasonal creeks & can dry up in summer. The most likely place to find great water flow is to look for the streams flowing directly into a major river or Lake/ Reservoir.

    Are you willing to clean up your camp, before & after, leaving it pristine?
    Yes indeed, it is free to camp outside of developed campgrounds.

    Finding a Creek & Reading a Map

    Cold Creek Campground

    Cold Creek Camp

    Truckee Campgrounds, Tahoe NF

    Cold Creek Campground: N of Truckee, CA

    DSCN0046

    A small developed campground along forested Highway 89, with raging creek, fishing spots, and hiking trails and mountain biking trails nearby. Paved, level camp sites, small RVs okay w/ access to the numerous Sierra Nevada destinations with several lakes and reservoirs nearby.

    This is a popular overnight stop “in route” for many campers and bikers traveling further on to the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains. You can exit off Interstate 80 @ Truckee, and be at this camp in minutes. Car camp, tent camping, a few spaces for small motorhomes. Plenty hiking and mountain biking trails.

    Cold Creek Campground, California

    on the Cold Stream;
    Campground open May-October
    (depending on snow)

    High Sierra / Tahoe Truckee Camping

    13 camp sites on Cold Stream @ 5800′ elevation; vault toilets, river and piped water, bear boxes; first come, first served camping

    Max Camper Length: 22′

    Rangers Office: 530-265-4531

    The highway traffic noise makes this place a ‘short and sweet’ one nighter top pick, great for those camping in route to another destination. Another developed camp is on the opposite side of the highway, less than a mile north called Cottonwood Campground.

    Free Camping nearby.
    If you are seeking primitive camping near this area, start with Little Truckee Summit at the lakes turn off road on SR 89 – about 2 miles south of the Cold Creek Campground.

    Tahioe USDA MapTake Tahoe Forest Road #5, a major paved road, approximately 12 miles back to the big meadows. Look for the unsigned dirt roads on left side of road nearing Webber Lake. The largest lake in the region, Independence Lake, is a paved side route off to the south. Further back on Road #5 the pavement ends at Jackson Meadows Reservoir. Very rough rocky road out to Bowman Lake w/ several developed campgrounds in the vicinity.

     

    Tahoe trailheads lead out to –
    alpine fishing lakes
    mountain peaks
    Treasure Mountain 7085′
    Tahoe National Forest 
    OHV Area @ Prosser Reservoir

    NEARBY TOWNS:

    ROAD CONDITIONS:

    Tahoe and Truckee are known for their brutal winters and deep snows pack. Call CalTrans ahead of your departure if you are even slightly expecting any kind of precipitation. Truckee – winter road conditions

     


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