Tag Archives: california

California Towns by Population

Small Towns in California,
Listed by Population

Seeking to explore more of California:
Outside more, Inside less.

CaliforniaRural reaches of rivers, mountains, high and low deserts. Find a new town in Northern California or in the Sierra foothills. Discover a new place for local vacations, or go all out and get a new job, in a new town.

Relocating, outside of a big city – for a life style change,  more nature, less people, less traffic. Real living life outdoors, walking to the market, growing some food, and enjoying a forced, early retirement.

Most populated state in US = California

smalltownCA

Most of the towns listed below are NOT located in the popular San Francisco Bay Area, nor the massive hot and smoggy Central Valley, nor in the over-crowded Southern California region.

cool town

Upscale villages, mountain hamlets and historic downtowns often have loads of attractions and eateries, yet unaffordable rentals and sky high residential real estate prices. We’ve purposely left out the super expensive and over-priced places like wine country, coastal enclaves and the typical touristy stops.

Many in this list are unheard-of farm towns, forest cabin communities, or river canyons – often neglected, minimal and unimproved. Some of these will not have a Wal-Mart in town, seldom a chain grocery store, nor a main street full of fast food restaurants. Although, they might be located next to a National Park, National Forest or State Park. Hike, bike, kayak and camp!

Backwoods, back roads and backcountry. Wildfires are often an annual threat. Higher in elevation means less smog and more stars. Altitude also means snow is quite possible, at least half the year. If you moved to California to avoid snow, then skip a winter visit (DEC-APR) or find elevations below 3000 feet.

California

California Small Towns under 100 people

Aspendell
Belden
Blairsden
Bucks Lake
Butte Meadows
Darwin
Duncans Mills
Fish Camp
Hope Valley
Kennedy Meadows
LaPorte
Nipton
Randsburg
Twain
Twin Lakes

snow

California Small Towns under 500 people

Amador City
Angelus Oaks
Bear Valley
Benton
Camp Nelson
Caspar
Cazadero
Crescent Mills
Gazelle
Kirkwood
Knights Ferry
Lee Vining
Lemon Cove
Markleeville
Mill Creek
Mineral
Olancha
Paynes Creek
Petrolia
Ponderosa
Seide Valley
Stirling City
Valley Ford
Volcano

star

California Small Towns under 1000 people

Adin
Alleghany
Avery
Bass Lake
Bridgeport
Cedarville
Cobb
Dorrington
Dorris
Douglas City
Downieville
Elk Creek
Etna
Fall River Mills
Fawnskin
Forest Falls
Fort Jones
French Gulch
Gasquet
Gazelle
Happy Camp
Independence
Isleton
June Lake
Klamath
Leggett
Meadow Valley
Miranda
North San Juan
Oak Glen
Orleans
Philo
Pinecrest
Pioneertown
Plymouth
Point Arena
Ponderosa
Scotia
Shasta
Sierra City
Sierraville
Springville
Somerset
Taylorsville
Walker

pinetree

California Small Towns under 5000 people

Ahwahnee
Alturas
Angels Camp
Angwin
Arnold
Berry Creek
Big Pine
Bishop
Camino
Cayucos
Challenge
Chester
Colfax
Coloma
Columbia
Copperopolis
Coulterville
Covelo
Dunsmuir
Ferndale
Forestville
Frazier Park
Georgetown
Greenville
Guerneville
Hayfork
Jackson
Jamestown
Joshua Tree
Kelseyville
Kernville
Lake Almanor
Lake Isabella
Laytonville
Lewiston
Lone Pine
Lucerne
Mariposa
Meyers
McCloud
Mount Shasta
Murphys
Nevada City
North Fork
Oakhurst
Pine Cove
Pine Grove
Pine Mountain
Portola
Quincy
Redway
Running Springs
Santa Margarita
Shaver Lake
Shoshone
Sonora
Strawberry
Sutter Creek
Three Rivers
Tuolumne
Twain Harte
Upper Lake
Weaverville
Weed
Westwood
Willits
Willow Creek
Wofford Heights

oaktree

Small Cities under 10k population

Alta Sierra
Big Bear City
Big Bear Lake
Coarsegold
Colusa
Crescent City
Fort Bragg
Gridley
Groveland
Ione
King City
Lake Crowley
Mecca
Needles
Ojai
Orland
Williams
Willows
Winters
Woodlake
Yreka

hiker

Small Cities under 20k population

Alpine
Arcata
Arroyo Grande
Auburn
Baywood Park
Coalinga
Crestline
Desert Hot Springs
Garberville
Grass Valley
Lindsey
Live Oak
Los Osos
Morro Bay
Placerville
Reedley
Red Bluff
Susanville
Tehachapi
Truckee
Ukiah

maindrag

fish
dirtbikes
horseback

Susan River California

Susanville Footbridge

Susan River California 

67 miles long, northern boundary of the Sierra Nevada

Lassen Peak to Susanville, CA

Lassen Volcanic National ParkNPSplaque

California’s Susan River begins way up @ Caribou Lake (6,571′ elevation) , on the east side of Lassen Peak at an altitude of 10,457′  inside the Caribou Wilderness.

Silver Lake (6400′ elev) at the Silver Bowl w/ Lassen National Forest Road #10 being the main, north-south access route, on the west side of A21.

Rocky Knoll Campground, Hourglass Lake, Hidden Lake, Tule Lake, Pine Lake. PCT is located 10 miles to the west of this area, running north-south through the center of the National Park.

  • Hay Meadows Trailhead
  • Caribou Lake Trailhead

kidfishing

Susan River follows Silver Lake Road down to Mooney Road A21. Backpacking, fishing and hiking are main attractions out here in the undeveloped lands, but snow can close these routes and trailheads for half the year. Expect crowds on summer weekends, as the Volcanic National Park pulls in a lot of visitors – and those tend to filter over to the outlying regions like the rivers and National Forest.
fish

Road A21

The Susan River Campground [CLOSED 2020] and Swains Campground, developed NFS campgrounds located on Mooney Rd (aka A21), due N of Westwood, CA

Lassen County Rd #A21 is a minimal signed road, near gas station on Hwy 36; Lassen County A21 is a paved road and very forested, with no services. A forested route which parallels Robber’s Creek, all this above Lake Almanor.

lassensignage

EAST BOUND

Susan River flows into the Great Basin – not the Pacific Ocean, like most rivers in California. After exiting the slopes of Lassen, the Susan River descends downhill along Highway 44, to McCoy Flat Reservoir (5556′) and then on to Hog Flat Reservoir  (5494′)  w/ access road #30N06.

camp

NFS Gomez Campground (5200′) is situated along the Susan River, on Road #30N03. Camp centrally located near both highways, with rail road tracks and access to a popular NRT (National Recreation Trail), the  Biz Johnson Trail (BLM).blm

Susan River flows east toward downtown Susanville, underneath highway system. Roxie Peconom Campground (4800′) is on a feeder stream, to the south, on Willard Creek. Forested walk-in camp site w/ large, level drum circle for large gatherings. Awesome location, far enough off the main drag.

Autumn colors can be decent along Willard Creek in September and October. This camping area is only 3 miles from the Highway 36 (via dirt road) and sorta close to town. Only 13 miles (biking distance) west of Susanville, CA

Chaney Creek Road is a dirt road near Highway 36, which parallels the river, the red rock bluff and the road, downhill into town.

Roxie Sign
Jamani Maidu Weda
  • backpacking

  • camping

  • creeks

  • hiking

  • fishing

  • kayaking

  • lakes

  • mountain biking

  • off roading

hiker

Forest Road #29N03 is Gold Run Road, the bumpy dirt road – that skirts around Diamond Mountain on the south side. Lots of one laner dirt roads, which will require a National Forest map or a decent topo map to navigate properly. OHV is common in these areas, so if you seek peace and quiet and solitude, know how to red a map and where the dirt bikes are expected to be.

Susan Sky
Summer Skies over Susanville w/ Diamond Mountain peak

USFS Ranger Station is located on the west side, just outside of town, on the wide downhill grade @ the Eagle Lake turnoff. Cal Fire station is also located along this stretch of highway.

Lassen National Forest
Ranger Station USFS

CA-36 @ Eagle Lake Rd, Susanville, CA 96130
Susanville, CA 96130
530-257-4188

Cal Fire Station
697 CA-36, Susanville, CA 96130
530-257-4171

 

ranger

The main road (highway 36 & 44) through here, and the Susan River parallel the whole way – dropping into town. Slow descent into downtown, as sharp curves come up abruptly (without a stop light) and pavement becomes a 25 mph downtown w/ pedestrians.

You can find the river by turning right (south) on Richmond,  through neighborhood. Susan River Parkway has some trails and picnic areas, with a ball field nearby. Hobo Camp is walking distance; biking and hiking trails abound.

Susanville Hiking Trails PDF
BLM Southside Trails

Susan River
Susan River in Susanville, CA
Susan River Parkway
Susan River Parkway

Small Park in Town
Small Park in Town

The Susan River was named after the daughter of early settler Isaac Roop, in 1857. The Museum Cabin homestead in downtown is that of Issac Roop, not Peter Lassen (as many mistakingly think).

The Susan River continues east to US Hwy 395, then southbound to enter the north Honey Lake. Lower lying deserts make up the Great Basin, which fills most of the state of Nevada.

Salmon River California


salmon river
Photo Credit Erik Meldrum

Salmon River, California
Forks of the Salmon

CAL SALMON – a 19.6-mile long tributary to the Klamath River, located in western Siskiyou County, CA

One of the most remote & biologically intact watersheds left inside California. The headwaters of the Salmon River flow from the Trinity Alps, Marble Mountains, and the Russian Wilderness Areas. 850,000 acres of Wilderness surrounding the Salmon River watershed.

There’s another Salmon River in Idaho, but this page deals with the Northern California river, dubbed “Cal Salmon” with emerald green waters and lush fern-filled canyons w/ a granite inner gorge.canoe

You gotta know how to read a map if you wanna find this hidden gem. Highly sought after destination for river fishing, whitewater rafting and river kayaking. Rapids! With a short rafting season (March-June)

This is a place for those who love seclusion. It’s kinda far for most people to drive here. The NorCal river region is a prime secret spot for true nature lovers: campers, hikers, fishermen, river rafters, kayakers, mountain bikers, backpackers, birdwatchers and horse enthusiasts. Summer is the busiest time and of course, the best weather. The remainder of the year, you’ll basically have the place all to yourself. Winters can be wet and sloppy, so don’t get stuck in the mud. Cell phone reception is minimal in these densely forested backwoods.

Rafting, river beaches, kayak spots. Campground camping, RV camping, tent camping, primitive and wilderness too.

hikerA significant part of the Klamath River’s watershed is in the Karuk Tribe’s Ancestral Territory. Karuk Indians have carefully managed their lands through an integrated continuum with the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem functions for thousands of years. Salmon, or “Ama” in the Karuk language, was a major source of food and spiritual renewal.

Forests & Parks along Salmon River:

Klamath River California

klamathriver

Klamath River, Northern California

The spectacular Klamath River is both the second largest and second longest river in California, making its way through over 250 miles both the Cascade and Coast Mountain Ranges. It’s one of the most important rivers in the U.S. for fish migration.hiker

  • backpack
  • boat
  • camp
  • canoe
  • fish
  • float
  • kayak
  • raft

fishNorCal river renowned for fishing = salmon and steelhead

The river is easily accessible off of Highway 96 w/ boat ramps, trailhead parking and campgrounds located nearby.

Klamath River flows down into California from Klamath Falls, Oregon. Many feeder streams and rivers join the big river – Shasta River, Scott River, Salmon River, and it takes a sharp turn north again where the Trinity River joins it from the south.  Copco and Iron Gate Dam located at the Oregon border, plus Upper Klamath Lake, north of the state line, are the significant dams along this river.

This area is the last hold-out for tribal members of

Hoopa Valley Tribe
Lucky Bear Casino

towns along this river –

Free Camping on Klamath River

Dispersed camping outside of developed campgrounds. Fire permits are required during fire restrictions. Call for more info Orleans Ranger District at 530-627-3291

Aikens Creek West Campground, Road #10N75
No fee. Open all year. No reservations. No services. Trailer spaces available. Maximum trailer length 35′

Ten Bear Trailhead
No fee. Dispersed camping area w/ several corrals, water for animals, and 2 campsites; pefect hunter’s camp. At the hiking trailhead for Ten Bear trail, in the Marble Mountains Wilderness.

orleanswithsnow
Orleans with Snow

Ti-bar, North of Orleans, CA
No fee. Heavy use. Ti-bar River Access offers a paved road to excellent dispersed camping with picnic tables, camp fire rings, a vault toilet and information kiosk. Gravel, steep boat ramp; 4WD may be needed to launch boats.

boatramp

hoopasign
Klamath in 2002 – would you look at those gas prices!

 

pearsons

 

januarysnow
January snow near Happy Camp, CA

Smith River Recreation Area

Doe Flat Trailhead, Road #16N02
Trail Parking @ elevation: 4500′
3 campsites and a vault toilet

Dry Lake, County Road 405.
No fee. Open all year.  Tent camping, Vault toilet. Good fishing.

 

USFS

KLAMATH RIVER CAMPGROUNDS NFS

Orleans and above, Six River National Forest

camp

E-Ne-Nuk Campground, Road #10N70
(also known as just plain “E-Nuk”)
10 sites w/ Overnight fee.
No reservations. Open June-Oct.
Tent and RV Camping,Picnic tables, Vault toilet.

Pearch Creek Campground, Pearch Creek Road #11N62
10 sites w/ Overnight fee.
Reservations accepted. Open June-Oct.
Maximum trailer length 30′

Fish Lake Campground, Fish Lake Road# 10N12
24 sites w/ Overnight fee.  Open June-Sept.
Tent camping, RV Camping trailer,Picnic tables, Vault toilet. Maximum trailer length 20′

 

horseback

CAMPING w/ HORSES
KLAMATH RIVER

Marble Mountains Wilderness

Stanshaw Equestrian Camp & Trailhead
4900′ elev
Dispersed camping; No fee. Excellent base camp for equestrian recreationists heading out on the Stanshaw Trail in the Marble Mountains Wilderness Area. One restroom, 5 large campsites with picnic tables, fire rings; corrals with running water for animals.

Ten Bear Trailhead
No fee. Dispersed camping area w/ several corrals, water for animals, and 2 campsites; pefect hunter’s camp. At the hiking trailhead for Ten Bear trail, in the Marble Mountains Wilderness.

canoe

dustingnewyear
Snow levels can reach the river in Northern California

see also – Salmon River

Panamint City California

panahills
Photo Credit © Steve Gardiner

Panamint City, a super remote mining camp on the edge of Death Valley National Park

elevation: 7300′

(Not to be confused w/ Panamint Springs, CA which is NW, along the main Highway 190 on the west side of DVNPhiker

Panamint Valley, Death Valley NP
Inyo County, NE of Ridgecrest
East of Hwy 395, south of Hwy 190

Hard to reach ghost town / abandoned mining camp on the mountainous edge of Death Valley National Park. Access via dirt road and steep trail,  off the paved Trona Wildrose Road. Panamint Valley, west of Death Valley

best time to visit: November – April
Triple digit heat is common in the warmer months, so spring, autumn and winter time is best for this region, but beware of winter storms.snow

Snow is common on  the peaks, and at higher elevations (like this place) during winter (DEC-APRIL). If you see trees on the terrain – joshua trees or pinyon pines, that indicates that snow falls here often enough. Snow is possible around Death Valley, down to 3000′ elev. during coldest of winter storms.

Surprise Canyon Wilderness BLM – Desert mountains, steep rocky terrain w/ peaks and very few trees. Surprise Canyon can become a waterfall, during heavy desert rains. The canyon is the  only access up to reach this hidden town4x4

NO MORE 4×4
Hike or backpack up Surprise Canyon
No 4WD access!
Gotta hike it, on foot now.

This desert destination used to be a very popular off-road trail, where Jeeps would wench and crawl up the narrow, rocky passage; but all that changed with a wilderness designation (1994)  and no longer are machines allowed in this specific canyon area. No vehicles (engines) and no mountain bikes. No wheeled anything.

Off-roading and free-wheelin is still allowed and abundant in neighboring canyons of Nadeau Road & Panamint Valley – Pleasant Canyon, South Park Canyon, Jailhouse Canyon, Goler Wash, Isham Canyon

stack
Smoke stack has collapsed in the recent past, so this structure is no longer standing. Photo Credit © Steve Gardiner

DVNP Topo Map

area activities & links:

  • lookinN
    Looking north in a neighboring canyon

    Campgrounds nearby –

    Ballarat ghost town has a camper bathroom w/ showers and a fee to go along with that. Panamint Springs has a small motel and a big restaurant, plus a large campground (across the highway) which can accommodate tents, camper trailers and RVs.

    campDeath Valley National Park boundary means developed campgrounds are a few miles away up Wildrose Canyon.

     

  • Primitive Camping around Panamint Valley

    Boon-docking, dispersed, FREE, open camping is allowed almost anywhere in Panamint Valley and the neighboring desert canyons. Campfire permits are required and are available at BLM office in Ridgecrest. There is no firewood, nor wood collecting around these parts, so bring your own.

    camptruck

    Nadeau Road has abundant flat spots for RVs; Well stocked 4x4s can find secluded camping further up the canyons, but must be a self-sufficient camper and bring water, plenty of ice, extra gasoline, food and firewood.

    More Mining Camps & towns nearby:check

    Ballarat, CA
    Pleasant Canyon
    Randsburg, CA
    Skidoo, DVNP
    Tucki Mine, DVNP

    wildrosedrive
    Wildrose Canyon Road, DVNP

    lodging nearby – lodge

    Locating a ‘real bed’ near this remote desert region will require some driving. The closest option in Panamaint Springs, which only has a few rooms. The next closest, would be Stovepipe Wells inside the National Park.

    mike_up5
    This is the kinda wheeling craziness that goes on in other canyons nearby.
    bestnite
    Camping in Panamint Valley is best in cooler months. Triple digit heat in summers!


Baja National Parks

Baja California Mexico

Ranger Station
Is this the Ranger Station?

Constitución de 1857 (National Park)

This 13,000-acre park, located in the Sierra Juárez Mountains, has some of the cleanest air on the planet. View deer, bald eagles, pine and oak forest while hiking or camping. Laguna Hanson sits in the middle of the park. Lake fishing for catfish & bass. Granite outcroppings for rock climbers, popular for bouldering. Mountain bike and camping, as well as off roading.

Information Sign
Information Sign

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir (National Park)

This massive range of mountains, 165,000 acres in size, is covered
with pine, oak and madrone forests. Baja’s highest peak at 3,086
meters, Picacho del Diablo resides here. Home to pumas, mountain
lions, bighorn sheep & over 30 species of bats. The region
is the wettest area on the Baja Peninsula, and from October to
May the mountains are covered with snow.

Isla Rasa (Special Biosphere Reserve)

Located in the Gulf of California, this reserve is only 17 acres in size. On this island 90% of the world’s brown sea gulls (larus hermanni) make their nests. Seals and the yellow-footed sea gull also inhabit the area.

El Vizcaíno (Biosphere Reserve)

This reserve is the largest in the world, made up of over six and one half million acres of islands, deserts, and coniferous forests. The gray whale is the reserve’s most interesting inhabitant, where it hibernates and reproduces. Wildlife such as the lynx, puma, red-tail falcon, and white pelican also reside in the unique area.

Isla Guadalupe (Special Biosphere Reserve)

One of the first protected areas of Mexico, this 62,500-acre island in the Pacific Ocean is a prime refuge to sea lions and seals. Unique volcanic geology and specially adapted plants make this reserve a scientist’s paradise.

Isla del Golfo (Special Biosphere Reserve)

Fifty-three islands in the Gulf of California make up this well preserved 375,000-acre reserve. The are is very isolated, making it ideally suited for scientific research and environmental education. Iguanas, lizards, ospreys, sea gulls and cormorant are some of the island’s many inhabitants.

Sea Turtles
Sea Turtles @ Bay of Los Angeles

The Gulf of California
is also referred to as the Sea of Cortez

museum

Gonzaga

baja camping

Camp Archelon
Camp Archelon, Bay of L.A.

Salinas River

salinasriver

Coastal California

Foothills & Farmland

US Highway 101 cuts thru Salinas Valley & is home to the Salinas River. This area is rich in farming, and industry w/ some residential

Rolling hills with oak trees; cattle in every open field, fresh air and wide open vistas. River has no big campgrounds or city campgrounds, except for the seaside area, where the river hits the ocean @ Marina, CA

Central Coast California Wine Country

Paso Robles, Northern San Luis Obispo County –  is where the Salinas River begins & flows northbound along mountains and  highway – until it meets the Monterey Bay near Castroville, California.

  • dirt bike trailsdirtbikes
  • camping
  • farm stands
  • hiking trails
  • horseback trails
  • pinyon pine
  • oak foothills
  • mission
  • wilderness
Los Padres Monterey Map
Los Padres Monterey Map

This is a big valley river which drains agricultural land, so boating/kayaking is okay, but fishing/swimming – maybe not so great. This region grows huge amounts of produce, due to the inland coastal foothills near perfect climate. Pesticide runoffs can hardly be controlled. It’s in the well water, it’s in the irrigation channels, it’s everywhere – even inside your gut.

Anyhoo, there are several tourist sites, such as historical California missions & wineries in this region, along with Hollister Hills OHV Park. Be warned summer months can get very hot here.

Best time to visit SALINAS RIVER  is NOV-MAY, and in between winter storms, and June Gloom. NOTE: Flooding does occur in these lowlands.

horseback

Parks near Salinas River:hiker

 

Campgrounds near Salinas River:

coastal Monterey Bay –

inland @ King Citycamp

upstream Reservoirs –

This California Central Coast, mountains foothills river region is within Monterey County.

OAKS / CATTLE / FARMS / FREEWAY

Private property, ranch lands, farmland, and public land in the hills – National Forest, BLM, State Park, National Monuments, State Vehicular Recreation Area

Wildfires burn outta control in California, so campfire permits are only available during the wettest of years. Check with local ranger station in Kings City, CA

campfire

San Antonio River
Green Bridge @ Nacimiento Rd, the back way into Big Sur. San Antonio River

Lakes near Salinas River:

fish

Towns along Salinas River:

Attractions near Salinas River:

Downtown Salinas, CA
Downtown Salinas, California [circa 2002]

boatramp dog     picnic  canoeRV

Saline Valley Hot Springs
Maybe you were searching for a remote desert hot springs, called SALINE Valley? Halfway across the world? Nope, across California and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Yuba River California

unionflatyuba
North fork Yuba River @ Union Flat Campground

Yuba River

Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains
Tahoe National Forest
North Gold Country @ Historic Highway 49
Marysville, California

Historic ‘gold rush’ mining camps and towns line this popular recreation river in the Northern Sierra. Numerous State Parks, museums, and campgrounds can be found along this route, in which Tahoe National Forest land encompasses the whole region.

North fork of the Yuba River lines Historic Highway 49, on the way to Downieville and Sierra City, CA. Plenty of camping in these parts.  Lakes Basin Recreation Area  is located up behind the impressive granite spires called Sierra Buttes and this area is the headwaters for this portion of the river.

New Bullards Bar Reservoir is also located in these parts, and offers camping and boating w/ very limited shoreline access.

Middle fork of the Yuba River cuts through the residential mountain community on Moonshine Road, and ends up in Lake Bullards Bar; The rest of the middle fork flows through remote forest lands and is only crossed by one dirt road #191 in Tahoe NF.

South fork of the Yuba River flows from the far heights of Donner Pass and I-80; near Lake Spaulding. Passing Washington Ridge; northeast of Nevada City; and North Bloomfield @ Malakoff Diggins continuing down to Bridgeport @ South YUBA – where the longest wooden, covered bridge is located. Numerous old, one-lane bridges cross this southern fork of the river, and the region can take years to explore. Lots of residential and private properties.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has a campground way back here, the CHEAPEST CAMP around; Look for signs, along the dusty North Bloomfield Rd (graded dirt road) about a mile UP hill from rickety Edwards Crossing (pictured below).

edx1898_sm
Edwards Crossing Bridge, built 1898

soyubaBLMsign

South Yuba State Park, located along the Golden Chain Hwy 49, is a short drive up Hwy 4 from Nevada City and a very popular spot for sightseeing, day hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and riverside picnics. The parking lot at the large curved bridge fills up fast, daily. Pedestrians and hikers are always seen here, so slow down driving along this portion of the highway.

The big river forks all join west of Grass Valley, heading down the mountains, paralleling Hwy 20 to Marysville, CA

northyuba
North Yuba near Downieville, CA

Yuba River Recreation

Backpackinghiker
Camping
Fishing
Hiking
Kayaking
Reservoirs

Mining History
Mountain Biking

Off-Roading
Picnics

Rafting
Tubing
Sightseeing

Forests, Lakes & Parks along this River:

Tahoe National Forest
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
BLM South Yuba Recreation
Bridgeport Covered Bridge
Kentucky Mine Museum
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
New Bullards Bar Reservoir
Englebright Lake
South Yuba River State Parkyubariver

Yuba River Camping

Campgrounds along Yuba River:camp

Fiddle Creek Campground
Indian Valley Campground
Rocky Rest Campground
Ramshorn Campground
Union Flat Campground
Loganville Campground
Wild Plum Campground
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Chute Hill (Shooter Hill Campground)
South Yuba BLM Campground

Lakes Basin Campgrounds: Gold Lake, Sardine, Salmon, Snag, Goose, Packer, Long, Big Bear, Jamison, Smith

MainStreet
Main Street in Sierra City, CA

The historic river town of Sierra City is defined by the North Yuba River that cuts through the granite, forested canyon. Granite towers above and snow is around more than half the year.

The river is free-running up here; Sierra City is only about 10 miles below the headwaters of the Yuba, at Lakes Basin Gold Lake California. In spring, runoff is pure Class 5 whitewater. Wild Plum Campground is walking distance to town.

camptruckFree primitive camping on dirt roads, can be found way up near the Bassetts intersection. Opposite from Gold Lake Hwy – turn RIGHT (south) on to logging roads: Forest Rd #54 (long ridge route, all dirt) and club into the forest. Drive a several miles up to any large dirt pulls out. Passenger car accessible road; No low riders. Carry a good forest map. Many primitive camp spots have wide openings with views of the Sierra Buttes and crystal clear night skies. Wind can get bad on this mountain ridge, so pick your camp spot with that in mind.

Epic view camp – or expensive river camp? (you choose). Campfire permit are required for camping outside of developed campgrounds. Bring your own water and shovel!

sierra buttes
Looking North to Sierra Buttes

Towns nearby & along Yuba River:

Allegheny, CA
Bridgeport, CA
Brown’s Valley
Downieville, CA
Goodyears Bar
Gold Lake California

Marysville, CA
Nevada City, CA
North Bloomfield
North San Juan
Sierra City, CA
Yuba City, CA

downierivers
Downieville, CA
southyubariver
south yuba river map USDA

Maps near this River:

Tahoe National Forest Map
South Yuba River Map
Lakes Basin Recreation Map
NatGeo Sierra Buttes Map
Tahoe Forest 4×4 Guide

bridgeportint
Bridgeport Covered Bridge, South Yuba River SP
bridgeportplaq
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
southyubariver
South Yuba River, California

Feather River California

riverfromtrail
Middle Fork of the Feather River, North Sierra Nevada

All the Feather Rivers in California

Northern California’s impressive Feather River Watershed is massive and drains the lower half of snowy Mount Lassen @ 10,457′ elevation. The Plumas National Forest and Lassen Forest region is where the Sierra Nevada granite meets the volcanic rock of the Cascade mountain range.

RECORD RAINS:umbrella

In most recent times, 2017 was the wettest year on record for California. The Feather River Watershed recorded more water than any other year, based on 112 years of hydrology records.

Lake Oroville
Lake Oroville, California
Fall colors in Berry Creek, CA
Fall colors in Berry Creek, CA
half-full-lake
Lake Oroville Half Full in 2015

Spanning three counties, four big river forks from the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains, to the foothills @ Lake Oroville, CA
Butte County
Plumas County
Lassen County

West Branch (Paradise, CA)
North Feather (Hwy 70 Beldon)
Middle Feather (Berry Creek, CA)
South Feather (LaPorte, CA)

Northern Sierra Nevada Mountains meet the Cascade Range @ Lassen

The North Feather runs along Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon with railways, tunnels and trestles traversing the giant gorge. This granite lined canyon is known as the “stairway to power” – water flows stepping down the mountain from numerous reservoirs. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) operate a series of 9 power plants all interconnected – producing electric power (and in rare occasions, wildfires)canoe

The East Branch of the North Feather River comes out of the American Valley near Quincy, CA

The West Branch of the North Feather River flows south down from “the ridge” – a forested, volcanic ridge line descending from Mount Lassen. West branch flows directly into Lake Oroville at Lime Saddle (Marina). This residential area is currently off limits to tourists, as it recovers from the most destructive and deadly wildfire in California history. The 2018 #CampFire destroyed most of the town and forests of Paradise, Lake Concow, and Yankee Hill. The incident made national news in November, as the worst wildfire season dragged well into autumn.

West Branch
West Branch near Magalia, N of Paradise, CA

The South Fork of the Feather River and its reservoirs, are managed by the South Feather Power Project, consisting of 5 lakes, 4 power plants, and 3 diversion dams. The closest paved road to this region would be La Porte Road, off of Highway 70 between Gridley & Marysville, CA

curtainfalls
Curtain Falls on Dome Trail Hike

DOME TRAIL 3

hiker

The Middle Feather, or Middle Fork of the Feather, is a beautiful wild and scenic river for 78 miles, with granite walls, domes and few trails or roads. Only 2 campgrounds – Milsap Bar and Little North Fork, are well worth the journey.

curtainfalls
Curtain Falls on the Dome Trail Hike

Bald Rock Hiking Trail, Berry Creek, CA

baldrockforest
Atop Bald Rock

EAST PLUMAS CO. Above the lumber & rail town of Quincy, Lake Davis and Frenchman Reservoir are both managed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR). Excellent mountain biking, stargazing and camping at both locations. NFS Campgrounds w/ fee.

Foreman Creek @ Lake Orville, maxed out. Feb 2017

North Sierra Waters:
via OROVILLE Reservoir
Lake Oroville

All this water listed above is the massive Feather River Watershed. Like a thousand fine hairs that make up a bird feather, there are over 4,500 miles of mountain streams and rivers feeding the bigger Reservoir system below. Dam run by DWR (Department of Water and Power) at the State Recreation Area known as Lake Oroville SRAmarina

  • boating
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • houseboats
  • kayaking
  • watercraft

Feather River has always been prone to flooding and wild river swings. All that Mount Lassen snowmelt needs to be managed in harmony with one another, so destructive floods do not ruin the agriculture and cities of the valley. Lake Oroville is the place; they try to control these river flows that are headed down to the Sacramento Valley. Oroville Dam was built in 1967. In 2017, a record rainfall winter in California, the Oroville dam showed major signs of stress with massive amounts of incoming water. Several recently published books tell the story in greater detail.

Fisherman in the Thermalito Afterbay outlet, Oroville, California

Thermalito, California

Below Lake Oroville, 2 giant warming ponds Thermalito Forebay & Thermalito Afterbay – built to control irrigation water and also heat the cold river water for the fish downstreamfish

CA SR 162 – West Highway 162: the farming and residential areas of Thermalito & Biggs are held together by rock levees, all running right next to Highway 99. Diversion drainage leads out of Lake Orovillle above  to the large inland bays – with river parks and salmon fish hatchery in historic, downtown Oroville. Wildlife viewing , kayaking, boating, fishing. Minimal camping at this area. Big rigs may be seen parked along this stretch of highway, due to its proximity to Hwy 99

RV park in Gridley, CA
Loafer Creek Campground on Hwy 162 @ Lake Oroville SRA

The Feather River flows south and merges with the Yuba River at Marysville & Yuba City, before joining the massive Sacramento River coming from the far north.

Eventually entering the California Delta south of Sacramento, CA

northforkfeather
North Feather, known as the “Stairway to Power” due to hydro-electric dams along this stretch.

camp  camptruck

Camping around the Feather River

NORTH FORK:

MIDDLE FORK:

SOUTH FORK:

challenge

challengePO
Small towns are primarily residential on the South Fork – Challenge, CA

horseback

Lassen National Park

 

USFS
Lassen National Forest
Plumas National Forest

maps of the Feather River regiondirtbikes

Middle Fork Feather Topo Map
Plumas National Forest Map
Lassen National Forest Map
Bucks Lake Wilderness Map
Ishi Wilderness Map
Lassen Forest Topo Atlas
Lassen Park Map NatGeo
PCT Map #5 North Sierra

Lassen Books

 

funkybridge
Best one lane bridge yet!
QueenCampsites
Queen Lily Campsites
mellownorth
Mellow North Fork, via Caribou Road

Grand-eous ideas, from white men who conquered this land. The scouts on horseback mapped the canyons w/ primitive tools; the with dynamite and danger, they built a railroad through in 1850.

Hydro-electric power systems  on the Feather, were constructed between 1908-1961. Native lands and tribal communities have been treated as sacrifice zones for national priorities of irrigation, flood control, and hydroelectric development.

Recent upgrades to Oroville Dam have been completed, although a lot of work still goes on around the Feather region due to wildfire debris, tree trimming, fire clearance, upgrades to power lines, and structural improvements.

Hiking trails, dirt roads  and highways may be re-routed, inaccessible or closed due to construction, landslides, rock slides or utility work. Call local rangers for up to date info.

pinetree

Towns near the Feather River –

(in alphabetical order)

hiker

mountains

Wikipedia Links – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feather_River

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Oroville

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upper_North_Fork_Feather_River_Project


Mountain Home Sequoia

Mountain Home State Forest
Mountain Home Sequoias

mtnhome

North of the Giant Sequoia , above the Western Divide Highway (CA 190) sits a little known Sequoia Park called Mountain Home. This lush forested area separates the Sequoia National Park (to the north) from the Giant Sequoia National Monument  (to the south).

Mountain Home is just up the mountain from the West Sierra river town of Springville, CA

horseback

Western Sierra Nevada

In part of the vast Sequoia National Forest, lies a hidden gem of State Forest land worth visiting. Waterfalls, the Tule River, fishing ponds, campgrounds and easy access to Golden Trout Wilderness trails.

MHDSF

The official name of this forest: Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest is quite a mouth full, so most just call it “Mountain Home”. In short MHDSF is managed by Cal-Fire and the California State Park system.

the Largest old growth Sequoias in the state!

Numerous awesome Campgrounds can be found near the Sequoia groves, the Tule River, hiking trailheads, fishing, waterfalls. Balch Park is the County Park, listed below.

    • Sequoia Backpacking
    • Sequoia Backroads
    • Sequoia Campgrounds
    • Sequoia Groves
    • Fishing Pond
    • Hiking Trails
    • Horseback Trails
    • Mountain Biking
    • Tule River
    • Waterfalls
    • Wilderness
    • Wildflowers

Balch Park Sequoia
located within the Mountain Home State Forest is a popular destination for the locals and families. Balch Park Campground is paved and RV accessible. 71 campsites, on first come basis.

fishin
Small pond fishing near Balch Park

Meadows, mountain peaks, streams, waterfalls, huge granite rocks & cliffs are all over. Plus some secluded groves of Giant Sequoia trees. Mosquitos can be annoying in these parts, so bring the chemical warfare and the screen room tent.snow

Roads Open: May – October
Forest mountain roads close annually, due to winter snow

meadows

SEQUOIA_map
SEQUOIA NF MAP

Area activities include:

Backpacking
Back Road Exploration
Campground Camping
Fishing
Hiking
Horseback Riding
Meadows
Mountain Biking
Picnic
Sequoia Groves
Swimming Holes
Tule River (North Fork)
Golden Trout Wilderness

USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised for this area. There are many dirt roads & numerous trails. Minimal cell phone signal inside these dense forests and large granite river canyons. GPS even has trouble getting connected, due to the immense canopy of trees.

Mountain Home Backpacking

hikerShake Camp – Best hiking trail access to Golden Trout Wilderness

In the backcountry, tent camping is allowed any place on soil 100 feet from trail or water. No camping on meadows. Ground fires are very allowed with fire permit. Use existing camp site when available. Check with the correct ranger district for all back country camping rules. Wilderness permits are needed for backpackers and horse packers staying overnight in the wilderness area.

Local Ranger Stations:

TH_GoldenTroutSQ
Golden Trout Trail Maps

Sequoia USFS Headquarters
Porterville, CA
559-784-1500

Tule River Ranger District
Springville, CA
559-539-2607

Mountain Home Backroads

Dirt back roads are so narrow they cannot accommodate the large motorhome or RV traveler.  Trucks pulling horse trailers are common, with very few options for a pull-out to pass.

This forested area is filled with old logging roads that lead to lush Sequoia groves & meadows.  The whole network of forest roads back here either –  loop back to each other, or deal end, often at a trailhead parking area. No roads connect through to any other portion of the Sierra range. Golden Trout Wilderness is a road-less area of the Southern Sierra Nevada.

Signs Not Reflective

The old skool, painted, wooden road signs do not READ well at night, so avoid arriving in the dark.

When it’s dark outside, it is best to STOP: Shut off the vehicle, get out and take a stretch break,  find the north star; Get your bearing straight, look at the real map with a flashlight – before driving miles to an unknown destination, just to turn around.

Be very aware of the Forest Service signage, use your trip meter for clocking mileage. Have a good map on hand. See MAP ABOVE.  It is very easy to get lost in this forest and you may end up driving for hours, maybe in circles. I swear this intersection looks familiar.

Road Signs

Mountain Home Campgrounds 

camp

Balch and Frazier are the two larger, developed campgrounds; all others are smaller camps w/ primitive facilities.

NOTE: all the Campgrounds in this forest now charge an overnight fee for camping. (Decades ago they were free, but not anymore.)

Balch Park Campground
Frazier Mill Campground
Hedrick Pond Camp

Hidden Falls Campground
Moses Gulch Campground
Shake Camp

campground elev. spots toilet water nearby comments
Moses Gulch 5500′ 10 pit river Tule River no trailers
Hidden Falls 6150′ 8 pit river Tule River no trailers
Shake Camp 6490′ 11 pit piped Golden Trout
Wilderness
backpack & horse trailhead
Hedrick Pond 6200′ 14 vault piped fishing pond RV ok; no hookups
Frazier Mill 6150′ 46 pit piped Sequoia Grove RV ok; no hookups
Balch Park 6000′ 71 flush piped fishing pond Tulare County Park

Frasier Mill Campground is spelled w/ a Z (like Frazier)on many printed maps and inside some camping books, but the proper spelling (on a sign at the campground) is actually Frasier w/ an S. This camp is located at the site of an old lumber mill. Meadows, trailheads, picnic areas, parking.

Decent signage leads to smaller, secluded campgrounds and hiking trail heads. Dirt road driving will be required. See BACKROADS (above heading) for tips on back road driving and night time arrivals.

Plenty of trails for horses back in these parts, most of them lead to Golden Trout Wilderness. Watch out for oncoming vehicles with horse trailers!

No primitive camping outside of developed campgrounds. Due to fire dangers around these majestic Sequoia trees. You must camp within the designated campground, or HOOF IT into the the wilderness for backpacking.

Mountain Home Hiking

hikerNumerous trails around each campground area will lead to the waters edge @ Tule River; into the Golden Trout Wilderness (for longer day hikes), along creeks w/ wildflowers, near lush meadows or through Giant Sequoia Groves.

Deer Ridge & Bogus Meadow Hike

Mountain Home Biking

Bikes are limited to existing paved and dirt roads; NO SINGLE TRACK trails for mountain bikers – due to the fragile, shallow roots of Sequoia groves, and the direct access to Wilderness.  NO bikes in the Golden Trout Wild!

coldriver
Cold Swimming Hole

mtnhomesign

Nearby towns:

Camp Nelson, CA
Ponderosa, CA
Porterville, CA
Springville, CA