Category Archives: Sightseeing

Mortero Wash

Anza Borrego Desert State Park / Mortero Wash

San Diego Desert Camping

xterrayellow

Primitive desert camping close to SD – yipee!

fireboulders

Interstate 8 EAST from SD / exit Ocotillo. SD county road # S2, the south end near the State Park boundary. Gorgeous every season but summer. Great winter camping close to SoCal. This  dirt road in in a desert wash area, which starts west – off the paved road. The signed white desert wash is a suitable drive for passenger cars (most years). But you best have 4×4 f the rain gets going good. Low riders should watch for the ridge lines – as the are naturally rockier places and could take out an oil pan of a mini SUV (at a high rate of speed).

The large morterro boulders at the far end of this route have nice views of the Imperial desert floor. Better from the top of the boulders too; numerous primitive camp sites surrounding the big boulders too. No toilets; no shade; no water; minimal vegetation. At night the stars are heavenly, but you can see city lights from Calexico and Mexicali. From the boulder you can hike or mountain bike up to the “old goat trestle” and numerous historic train tunnels @ Carizo Gorge (not to be confused w/ Carizo Plains in Kern Co). Moderate hike, all day adventure. Bring lunch and water!

SAN DIEGO Backcountry Map
this waterproof map has the entire State Park covered

artistsview

bouldertents

When you decide to stop the car, look around for the best spot. Park off the road way and preferably in a turn out or camp spot. Turn off the engine, get out of the automobile, stretch your legs, breathe, look, close your eyes – tight and breathe deeply, then look around you again. This particular place is special, you can just feel it. Walking around the boulder area, be cautious of snakes. On the boulders – closely examine them, climb on them, get to the top; you will find the (NativeAmerican) Indian grinding holes.

gethigher

great side trip option: Across the paved road (SD County Road S2) on the opposite side of the valley is a nice hike to Sand Dollar Hill. (I’m sure this isn’t the real name, but I will add that later). Dirt road leads up to a dirt parking area for hikers. Busy lil place sometimes. These desert dirt hills have wind caves and chunks of sand dollars scattered all over them. The real ocean floor way out here, east in the Anza SD desert… how cool is that?

great side trip option: Canon Sin Nombre is just up the road a piece, N on S2, on the EAST side of the road. Amazing viewpoint turn out, right on the highway, overlooking the impressive topography and badlands. If you have a high clearance SUV or any truck you can drive down into the sandy tight, rocky wash. It meets back up with another main wash way back there. Tons to explore back here. Off roader should think Tread Lightly on this turf and primitive car campers should use a Leave No Trace approach. White sand, deep sand, caves, smoke trees, and the best slot canyon climbing & hiking this side of the Anza State Park.

Parks and Recreation Magazine

California Parks and Wreck

tv the big distraction

step 1. kill your television
step 2. get outside, everyday
step 3. sleep overnight, under the stars

For those who may be still trapped in TV-Land, welcome to Total Escape, a dedicated web site all about the “real world” of wilderness and non-fiction, California style.

parksrectv

Before I started my web business people would suggest to me that I need to write a book. So I naturally chose the world wide web. Now decades later, they are still asking the same question. “Why don’t you write a book on this stuff?”

I say “I did, it’s online. On the internet already. Go look.”
Puzzled, they would turn away to gaze at their device.

Total Escape was created in the web 1.0 days (1996), so I could easily keep track of my many travels, the awesome destinations, my recommendations, my travel logs, zillons of photographs, camping trips, the back roads, signs, maps, GPS, all of it. I worked my day job doing 3D & then moonlighted starting this small web biz. My biggest draw to the internet format at first was being able to update outdoor info instantly. Secondly, it was the ability to work from anywhere with a phone line. (56k anyone?)

No toxic inks, no newspaper. No glossy mag. No waste. Just free digital energy about outdoor destinations, transferred across the cyber waves, just for you the avid Escaper.

park magazine

Then came the buy-out offers and seasonal magazine ideas from sources in San Diego. By late 2003, none had solidified. Several print magazines did however mention totalescape.com in a few articles, which resulted in some nice traffic spikes. Eternally grateful for the early on-lookers and participants!

Quite personally, I had already had my share of smelly inks, papers & paints in art college. Working in a computer career field, I was fully aware of the web in the early 1990’s. I was ready for the computer age & the internet. Eager in fact! Ready to make that leap from graphics & print concepts over to web windows was all I thought about for years.

I did not want to print anything; waste anything. I wanted my biz to be state of the art, futuristic – so here I am, 26 years later. WOW!

Thousands of photos, hundreds of destinations, all local to California. All by itself, Total Escape is a Parks and Recreation Magazine online – and always updating.

DanaMite
Total Escape – California, Off the Beaten Path
totalescape.com

California Outside Blog

California A to Z

AtoZsmalltowns

California Photos
flickr.com/photos/danamite/sets/

propanecampfire
Stupid idea #544967 – the propane campfire
Shouldn’t we be looking up at the stars?

secluded camps

ranger

Parks & Forests

Wilderness List

califrepublic

California Google Maps

California Aspens

AspenGroves

Aspen Groves are easy to recognize with their thick stands. White trunks with dark knots, slender, with oval shaped leaves. Growing in a network of roots, which are found lining creeks, alpine lakes, or spilling out from higher elevations, along  scenic canyons.

The unique round leaves which can turn spectacular colors in the fall season. The fluttering and flapping of the oval-shaped, thick, green leaf is a sure sign of summer. When breezes get cooler, Autumn is only a few weeks away and as quick as the cold comes in, what a short and special show they put on.

autumncabin
Green Creek historic cabin, on the Eastern Sierra

California Fall Colors

Aspen trees can be found at higher mountain elevations in California, usually above 4000′ – all the way up to about 10,000′ or higher, depending on the mountain range and local water flows. Groves have an extensive root systems underground, so they often withstand wildfires and can come back after the rest of the forest is gone.

Beavers build dams in creeks around aspen trees, fishermen and campers love to camp next to aspens, and lovers carve their initials into their white bark. These trees do indeed take a beating, from all angles, winter weather included… so stop from cutting them!

carvings

fishing creeks mountain biking stargaze Picnic Camp Hiking horseback back roads mountains

  • BIKE
  • CAMP
  • FISH
  • HIKE
  • KAYAK
  • PICNIC

summer and autumn

These deciduous trees are naked half the year, typically from November to April, as winter buries them in snow and ice. Time is of the essence, limited to Summer and Autumn – to enjoy their shade and the beauty of the groves. Scenic meadows and fishing creeks are just an added bonus for searching out the aspen.

Aspens can be found in hidden canyons, primarily along the Eastern Sierra US Hwy 395 and surrounding mountain lakes. Some Sierra Passes have decent displays of color as well – like Carson Pass Hwy 88 and Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Hwy 120.

Below is a list of Total Escape’s favorite aspen areas of California

ASPENDELL
BAKER CREEK (4×4)
BIG PINE CANYON – NORTH FORK TRAIL

BISHOP CREEK
BLUE LAKES, CARSON PASS
BLUE LAKE, MODOC

CONVICT LAKE, US 395
COTTONWOOD CREEK @ ANCIENT BRISTLECONES
COYOTE FLAT (4×4)

CROCKER @ LAKE DAVIS
CROWLEY LAKE, US 395

DUNDERBERG MEADOW

EAGLE LAKE @
ASPEN GROVE CAMPGROUND

GREEN CREEK ROAD, US 395
HASKINS VALLEY @ BUCKS LAKE
HILTON CREEK, US 395
HOPE VALLEY
JUNE LAKE LOOP

LAKE SABRINA
LAKE TAHOE
LAUREL LAKES ROAD, US 395
LEE VINING CANYON
LUNDY LAKE, US 395

MAMMOTH LAKES, US 395

MCCLOUD CREEK @ ALGOMA
MCGEE CREEK, US 395

MILL CREEK to MINERAL, CA
HWY 172 LOOP aspensofmineral1000

MODOC NF @ BLUE LAKE
NORTH LAKE, ASPENDELL @ BISHOP

ONION VALLEY @ INDEPENDENCE
PARKER LAKE RD @ JUNE LAKE LOOP
PINE CREEK ROAD, BISHOP

PLUMAS-EUREKA STATE PARK
@ UPPER JAMISON CREEK CAMPGROUND

PLUMAS EUREKA

QUAKING ASPEN CAMP, GIANT SEQUOIA

RED’S MEADOW, MAMMOTH
ROCK CREEK ROAD @ US HWY 395

ROSS CAMPGROUND, PLUMAS NF

SPALDING, CA @ EAGLE LAKE

TOM’S PLACE, US 395
TWIN LAKES @ BRIDGEPORT
VIRGINIA LAKES, US 395

WISHON RESERVOIR

aspentips
Aspen Tips @ Eagle Lake California

 

aspenwall
Green Creek Camping

Autumn Camping in California

 

amigoaspens
Laurel Lake Road @ 9000′ – Eastern Sierra, California

 

aspensplit

Childs Meadow

Childs Meadows @ Lassen Forest

on the Lassen National Forest map this huge meadow area along Highway 36 is marked as “Childs Meadows”

morgan mtn burnt
Morgan Mountain above Childs Meadow after the fire 2021

Childs Meadow sits at 5000 feet in elevation, on the edge of the Mill Creek drainage, just south of Lassen National Park. The meadow spans from Mill Creek, eastward along State Route 36 for many miles. Gurnsey Creek flows down Wild Cattle Mountain, near the resort, crosses the pavement, and heads east to meet up with the Deer Creek drainage above Chico, California

This sacred meadow was the summer camp and ceremonial ground for native tribes that existed long before the white men showed up. The meadow basin was originally owned by J.C. Tyler who used it for summer grazing land. He established a resort about 1864 and by 1896 it was a regular stage stop for travelers.

In 1900, Tyler sold the land to Abner Nanny who used it for summer grazing. Frank Childs purchased it in 1909 and also grazed livestock there seasonally. By the late 1930s a service station and cafe had been established. Then came cabins that were the precursor of the privately owned Childs Meadow Resort, which burned down some time later. These days Highlands Ranch Resort is the newest place to call this location home.

Lassen: Childs Meadow (before the fire)

July 2011 vs. July 2021

lassenmeadows2011

What a difference a decade makes. Drought in California makes a green meadow brown!

Childs Meadow 2010
Childs Meadow Resort in 2010

mountains

MOUNT LASSEN MEADOWS
Lassen Peak @ 10,457 feet has the highest known winter snowfall amounts in California. There is an average annual snowfall of 660 inches, and in some years, more than 1,000 inches of snow falls at its base elevation of 8,250 feet.

childs meadows

and a month later (after I start this post)…
AUG 2021 the DIXIE FIRE

Burnt Above
Highlands Ranch Resort with Dixie Fire burn scar on ridge above 2021
October Snow Barn
Historic Barn – early snow in October 2021

2007 – Nature Conservancy Buys Childs Meadow
times-standard.com/2007/10/20/the-nature-conservancy-buys-childs-meadow/

cafe and motel
Cafe and Motel (1950s postcard )

As for the spelling on the name:
Childs Meadows is commonly seen on USFS maps, and found inside a book called Tehama County Place Names.
Most locals know it as Childs Meadow, but it also seen spelled with an apostrophe s – Child’s Meadow

Swimming Pool at Childs
Swimming Pool at Childs Meadow Resort (1950s postcard)

CA Visitors Guide

California Visitors Guide

California is currently the #1 travel destination in the country. Travel and tourism totals $80 billion annually in California, support jobs for a million Californians and generate $5.3 billion in state and local tax revenues.

Total Escape is the independent travel site for the golden state. We also list some other resources below.

California map

California Guide

locals prefer….
Total Escape, California, Off the Beaten Path

Lake Genevieve

California Back Roads Guide

California by County

California by Region

California by Zip Code

California Towns by Elevation

California Hot Springs Guide

California Ghost Towns

California Lakes List

California Parks & Forests

California Rivers List

California Rural Counties

California Wildflowers Guide

 

lakes Californiasome other popular web sites for California –
visitcalifornia.com
wikitravel Cali

beach sunset

California Festivals & Events

California Google Maps

California Road Conditions

California Seasons

California Weather 

CA Holiday

California Holiday Calendar

Annual calendar holidays & night skies for 2022

Carson Peak June Lake Loop

This list below is published by Total Escape, so you can easily plan your weekends away and your outdoor vacations, your fishing trips, your stargazing nights, your valuable three day weekends. ” Hey DanaMite, when is the next meteor shower?” Now you know!

holidays for 2022

JANUARY

  • Saturday, January 1   New Year’s Day
  • Sunday, January 2   (new moon)
  • Quadrantid Meteor Shower
  • Monday, January 17   Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (full moon)

FEBRUARY

  • Tuesday, February 1   (new moon)
  • Wednesday, February 2   Groundhog Day
  • Friday, February 14     Valentine’s Day (full moon)
  • Friday, February 16    (full moon)
  • Monday, February 21     President’s Day Weekend

MARCH

  • Tuesday, March 1   Mardi Gras Fat Tuesday
  • Wednesday, March 2    Ash Wednesday (new moon)
  • Sunday, March 13   Daylight Savings Time starts
  • Thursday, March 17   Saint Patrick’s Day
  • Friday, March 18  (full moon)
  • Sunday, March 20  Vernal Equinox (Spring)

APRIL

  • Friday, April 1   April Fools Day (new moon)
  • Wildflowers bloom begins statewide
  • Lyrid Meteor Shower
  • Sunday, April 10   Palm Sunday
  • Tuesday, April 15   Good Friday
  • Saturday, April 16   Passover (full moon)
  • Sunday, April 17   Easter Sunday
  • Friday, April 22   Earth Day
  • Friday, April 29 Arbor Day
  • Saturday, April 30  (new moon)

MAY

  • Thursday, May 5     Cinco de Mayo
  • Sunday, April 8   Mother’s Day
  • Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
  • Monday, May 16  (full moon)
  • Monday, May 30    Memorial Day  (new moon)

JUNE

  • Tuesday, June 14 Flag Day (full moon)
  • Sunday, June 19  Father’s Day
  • Tuesday, June 21 Summer Solstice
  • Tuesday, June 28 (new moon)

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

  • Monday, September 5   Labor Day
  • Saturday, September 10  (full moon)
  • Thursday, September 22  Autumnal Fall Equinox
  • Sunday, September 25  (new moon)

OCTOBER

  • Sunday, October 9  (full moon)
  • Monday, October 10     Columbus Day
  • Orionid Meteor Shower
  • Tuesday, October 25 (new moon)
  • Monday, October 31   Halloween

NOVEMBER

  • Sunday, November 6   Daylight Savings Time ends
  • Tuesday, November 8   Election Day (full moon)
  • Friday, November 11     Veterans Day
  • Leonid Meteor Shower
  • Wednesday, November 23 (new moon)
  • Thursday, November 24     Thanksgiving Day

DECEMBER

  • Wednesday, December 7 (full moon)
  • Wednesday, December 21    Winter Solstice
  • Friday, December 23  (new moon)
  • Geminid Meteor Shower
  • Saturday, December 24          Christmas Eve
  • Sunday, December 25     Christmas Day
  • Saturday, December 31     New Years Eve

DanaMite

founder of Total Escape

Internet Pioneer

totalescape.com  – online since 1996

(before the dot com crash, before digital cameras, before GPS, before social media & way ahead of smartphones)

Sole creative force of Total Escape, Dana Williams left her 3D animation career to start living and working her dream job, online and off. Utilizing artistic talents, computer skills, a vast knowledge of the California landscape and a simple love of nature, to make it all come together for a killer web site called Total Escape. Over 25 years online means fresh content & updates every month; reworking web code every few years to keep up with various browsers, apps, maps, and wildfires.

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“travel agent to the back woods”

greenhouseLiving close to the earth with organic gardening and rural living, DanaMite strives to offer California residents, new-comers and visitors unique, local destinations, concentrating on the outdoors – well away from overcrowded, busy, urban cities and tourist traps. Total Escape can show you how to discover the secret, hidden spots on your public lands that the gov web sites will not even dare to mention.

Support this site

help keep
total escape
online




the independent source for California travel

NO CORPORATE sponsorshipCalifornia Camping Photos
No venture capital
No government subsidies
No annoying pop-up ads
No scripts chugging bandwidth

No membership needed

 

Decades without a television set lends plenty of time for studying terrain, topographic maps, GPS coordinates and thousands of photographs to compile more than 8000 pages on just California travel. Far from the daily grind of everyday life, DanaMite continues in educating the public about local travel, camping, family farms, organic cafes, outdoor recreation, respecting the land, responsible use of our resources & how to get more enjoyment out of weekend travels.

outdoor girls

Things that started Total Escape:

 

entrepreneur

YOUR SUPPORT keeps Total Escape going:

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Expert Camping Pro California
40+ years of documenting back roads of California, plus some Baja & Utah too!
utahlover
DanaMite loves Utah, almost as much as she loves California.
tejonpass
Tejon Pass “Cristo’s Umbrellas” art installation 1991. Photo copyright – Kevin Robinson

condor costume

Our Sequoia

Before and After Photo

CALIF WILDFIRE:
Bear Fire, North Complex Fire @ Berry Creek, CA

Sequoia Swipe

No this is not Sequoia National Park, nor Giant Sequoia National Monument, although certain historic groves did burn this past summer – inside Mountain Home SF.

This Sequoia here, is the best tree in our front yard.

Some say that older Sequoia trees can withstand fire, but not if the fire burns the crown (tippy top).  Since our tree is young (60+ years old), compared to most Sequoia trees, we’re not too sure if ours will survive. But we have been watering it for months and hoping for a good winter rain w/ snow.

UPDATE DEC 2021

Puff of green started appearing late Spring. However minimal, I still got excited enough to photograph it.

Mostly brown, but green appearing May 2021.
Sequoia Strong
Holding out hope for the Sequoia.

Sequoia toasted

We watered this Sequoia all summer (2021) long and now we have a good rain spell in Autumn heading into Winter, so I am hoping our Sequoia – plus the neighbors 2 Sequoias, can make a serious come back.

SEQUOIA PROGRESS

Will keep posting our growth progress, as soon as I see more green – mid 2022.

No one is sure when these Sequoia trees in the Berry Creek region were established, since these pre-date our knowledge and the county records.

June & Curly may have planted these back in 1950; or maybe Mr. Coe or Sorensen around 1960. Could it have been the Maidu tribe (native Americans) who transplanted seeds from south to north? Doubtful.

califrepublic

Grange Hall, now California Guilds

gold country grange

Why are most California Granges now called Guild Halls?

Simply, it’s FOOD politics.

Corporate food power versus local food production: organic, GMOs, bees, pesticide drift and a host of other issues. In 2011, all hell broke loose with the historic Grange Halls – newly elected officials, and the national goals versus the local community interests.

The following year California was voting to label GMO foods, a proposition which educated millions of eaters and chemical corporations spent gazillions opposing the bill, but it was only narrowly defeated. The National Grange was standing on the opposite side from the California State Grange on this important food issue. This may be when the chasm began to widen.

nongmo

Hippies, yuppies, left coast thinkers. Fruits, flakes and nuts! Tree huggers, eco-terrorist. Damn liberals. Food and California.

wyandotte

Remember that half of California voters knew about genetically engineered ingredients a decade ago. Many of them made diet decisions based on new information readily available. Maybe they sometimes exercise outdoors, and dig this web site. Others choose to ignore the food topic and ingredients listed. Call it denial. Call it an obesity epidemic.

Although the labeling law did not pass, many companies begin putting NON-GMO labels on the front of the food packages anyway. Health food manufacturers, now major brands, especially food produced inside California.

old building

SLOW FOOD

The local food movements in cities and in rural communities started growing, prior to the year 2000; Grange membership began increasing (for the first time since the 1950s) as young farmers and organic farmers took a new interests in “creating community” and finding a cleaner, greener way to the future of food.

Now we have farmers markets and CSA’s (community supported agriculture programs) all over the nation. Fresh food deliveries on a weekly basis. Awareness has only been accelerating on the food topic – with organic food sales rising steadily over the past few decades.

Raised Garden Bed
Grow Your Own Food
growingreens
Growing Your Greens

more articles & resources –

The State of the Grange

West Coast Grange Wars: A Reborn Farmers’ Movement Takes on Corporate Agriculture

The California State Grange backed 2012’s Proposition 37, which mandated labeling of genetically modified foods….

The National Grange suspended the California State Grange’s charter in September 2012, and revoked it in May 2013

We are anti-pesticide, anti-fracking but we are for food sovereignty. The National Grange is dynamically opposed to all of those. They are pro-GMO, pro-pesticides, pro-big farming as opposed to small and local farms. Politically there is a dynamic difference.

Food Movies: Food Documentaries, GMO Movie, Farm Documentary Films

Southern California Photos

Thousands of places – all local, in California; Millions of possibilities for your road trips.

25 years worth of photographs:
the ever-growing Total Escape image bank is on
flickr

Recent feeble attempts at trying to manage over 50,000 photos from 2+ decades worth of California travels has lead me to flickr.com.

Residing in several locations – first, Southern California, then the Kern County mountains, then over to the Central Coast, San Luis Obispo county and now living in Northern California – traveling all over California to explore. Utah, Baja, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, the Lost Coast, Lakes, Deserts, mountains – all of it. All California back roads & small towns.

Why should a small biz like me need to pay for monthly bandwidth hosting photos, when most of you just wanna look at beautiful vacation photos? (bored at work presumably).

Way back sometime, I decided flickr was an easy enough venue for me to host my best work for you to see, plus tell stories, rave reviews, add recommendations. From mud-whomping to hot springing, petroglyphs, fishing creeks, hiking, camping – DanaMite has a lot of adventures, ready to share & inspire you to get outside this weekend.

While the majority of this image library is not focused on Southern California, it can lead SoCal residents to where they really wanna go – REAL WILDERNESS. California is a big, tall state with forests, mountains and lakes.

CALIF OUTDOOR PHOTOS

califrepublic

#1 Top Viewed Image

Lake Genevieve

California Wildflowers

CA Wildflowers 2010

Figueroa Mountain

Figueroa Mtn

21S94 – Sequoia NF

sequoia groves

Sequoia Groves: Forest Rd# 21S94
Sequoia National Forest

Windy Gap

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the Windy Fire

This impressive backcountry route is inside the newly formed Giant Sequoia National Monument. From the Western Divide Highway this graded route leads from an area North of the Trail of 100 Giants to the back edge of the Tule Indian Reservation. The 20 mile route turns north towards Coy Flat Campground (20 spots @ 5000′) & then meets up with Camp Nelson, California.

The Summit National Recreation Trail cuts right thru this region & there are many dirt roads meandering off of the main route# 21S94.

There are a few hidden Sequoia groves back here, great for day trips & picnic spots:

  • Peyrone Grove (via road# 22S91)
  • South Peyrone Grove (via road# 22S03 & trail #31E41)
  • Red Hill Grove

hiker

pinetree

nearby towns:

Closed Indefinitely

UPDATE SEPT 20, 2021
California National Forests, most have re-opened.
See Sequoia Wildfires & Closures

pinetree

Twenty five years ago, when I began this outdoor web site for California, did I ever imagine ‘times like these’ – where we would be held up inside our homes during summer, as annual wildfires destroyed our vast and beautiful forests. Frightened to breathe the toxic, smokey air outside. Saddened by news of yet another town or historic structure burning to the ground. Checking the destruction daily online, in hopes of more containment, fresh photos or any good report.

Now I fear Total Escape  may become photographic documentation of how beautiful California once was.

burnt forest

wildfire closures

Most California National Forest are currently closed!

Lassen Volcanic National Park is CLOSED due to damages from the Dixie Fire.

In case you missed it: 2020 was the worst year for wildland fires in California history, but 2021 is shaping up to be just as bad. Many forests, roads, trails, campgrounds and parks listed below have been closed to the public for the 2021 season, and possibly longer.

BIG SUR COAST
Julia Pfeiffer Burns SP
Prewitt Ridge
Nacimiento Road
Lucia Restaurant
Tassajara Canyon

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
Big Basin Redwoods SP
Butano Redwoods SP
Boulder Creek, CA

NORTHERN CALIF
Armstrong Redwoods SP
Austin Creek SRA
Mendocino National Forest
Lake Berryessa
Mad River / Ruth Lake
Forest Glen, CA
Salmon River
Six River National Forest
Snow Mountain Wilderness
Yolla Bolly Wilderness
Lassen National Forest
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Caribou Wilderness
Lake Almanor
Feather River (North Fork)
Susan River (near Caribou)
Trinity Alps Wilderness
Trinity River (W of Weaverville)

SIERRA NEVADA
Alta Sierra
Balch Park

Berry Creek, CA
Bucks Lake, CA
Butte Meadows
Caldor
Consumnes River
Dinkey Creek
Eldorado National Forest
Feather River (Middle Fork)
Huntington Lake, CA
Indian Valley
Greenville, CA
Mammoth Pool Reservoir
Mountain Home Sequoia
Plumas National Forest
Sequoia National Forest
Sierra National Forest
Shaver Lake, CA
Shirley Meadows
Silver Fork
Western Divide Highway
22N82 Forks of the Kern

aftermath
Camp Okizu

camp

Expect that campfire rules will be tighter in the future, overall. Campfires will likely be restricted to ‘only inside developed campgrounds’. Or only allowed during the wet season on the backroads or in the backcountry.

campfire

hazmat
My Front Yard (literally)

*Unfortunately, this is not a complete list of all the closures inside California parks and forests. I am adding more to this list, as more places burn. This page is a work in progress for autumn 2021

58 counties
58 Counties in Calif

Trail of 100 Giants Sequoia Grove

seqAmigos

The Western Divide Highway, at 6000 feet elevation, connects the Kern River Valley w/ granite peaks, dome rock, aspen groves & the Giant Sequoia trees! This is one of the southernmost Sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The easy hike is more of a nature trail, wheel chair accessible & approximately 1 mile long. Large Sequoia trees, picnic grounds, near campground.

SEPT 2021: Closed due to the Windy Fire

On busy weekends and holidays the rangers charge a “day use” parking fee, for those wishing to park in the paved parking lots. Avoid this fee by finding additional parking along the highway. Only a few good free parking spots along this busy 3 mile stretch of highway, and don’t forget to park all the way off the pavement.

SOUTHERN SIERRA: Great destination for camping families & sightseers traveling through the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains.

Western Divide Campgrounds

The USDA National Forest Campground across the road from the Trail of One Hundred Giants is called Redwood Meadow Campground. There is also a separate parking lot for the picnic grounds w/ a similar name.

Also nearby is Long Meadow, Long Meadow Group Camp, Peppermint Campground, Holey Meadow Group Camp and past Ponderosa. Quaking Aspen Campground and Quaking Aspen has a NFS Cabin Rental too.

Down near Camp Nelson, CA is the Coy Flat Campground.

Giant Sequoia National Monument has numerous dirt back roads for free, primitive, car camping. You’ll need a good topo map to find the best ones. Some roads may be muddy, overgrown or extremely rocky, depending on recent weather. Know you vehicles limitations. There is no tow truck service available way back here in the boonies.

Trail of 100 Giants Photos

All Redwood Groves in California

 

nearby towns –

Sequoia National Forest Map
Sequoia National Forest Map
Golden Trout Wilderness Trail Map
Golden Trout Wilderness Trail Map

Hidden Groves near Ponderosa CA

Los Coyotes

los coyotes SD

Los Coyotes Camping
Los Coyotes Reservation Campground

North County San Diego
Camping SD

Way out there, on your way to the Borrego desert, past Warner Springs somewhere is this little gem of a location. Near the southern slopes of Palomar Mountain, on the edge of Cleveland National Forest.

Los Coyotes Band of Indians Tribal Campground

open to the public

Great rural location, in-route to many destinations in Southern Cal. Temecula wine country, Warner Springs, Culp Valley, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs.

Campground is a popular spot with locals, so note that some weekends can get rowdy. Ask about a more secluded camp site option if needed. There is plenty of primitive land out here.

Oak trees and boulder hills, dirt roads, near Hot Springs Mountain. North San Diego County.

Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla & Cupeño Indians

Warner Springs, CA 92086
RECREATIONAL# 760-782-0712
ADMIN# 760-782-0711

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snowx
Hot Springs Mountain SD

More Time, Offline

boulder fire ring

sunflower3There once was a time when we connected more with nature. Before we closed ourselves off, behind the doors and windows, behind the computer screens, before the internet became part of daily life.

Overweight and obesity is now epidemic in America (as if you didn’t notice). Fast food feasting and soda pop, GMO-gut disorders – and yet we’re still frustrated or disappointed with life; Addicted to television, processed food, copious amounts of sugar, daily coffee, butterflysmoking, prescription drugs, and what else.

Wi-fi streaming, video games, always indoors, online, enjoying air conditioned cubes. Inactive physically, emotionally vacant, bored with our choices and always on social media.

Stop and think. Look what has happened to us.
Is this the life you envisioned?

blue light special

Campfire Community

Cooking over a camp fire and real conversation are just a few examples of what we have lost in our modern world of technology, fantasy and face-time. campfireFresh air, wild flowers, alpine lakes, star filled skies and total silence – all still exist in certain areas, but you must know where to look. Birds and bees, wildlife is disappearing at extinction levels. Pollution, powerful corporations and politics.

Stop and look. See what has happened to earth.
Is this the world you envisioned?

Highland Wildflowers


Gone! Away, split, out of town. Off work, out of school, on vacation. Outdoors, always. Far, far away.
Unplugged, out of range, vacant lands, big trees, open skies, clear views. California is the land of dreams. Opportunity, fantasy, education, agriculture, terrific terrain and epic scenery. Campfires, waterfalls and mountain meadows are waiting for you.

Taking time off of work – or your typical daily routine – is often rewarding physically as well as mentally. Imagine a week away in a gorgeous location, with minimal to do. Really relax, zone out, chill. Gaze at the water, nap in a hammock, find wildflowers, deer bones, or bear fur on a tree. Cook over the campfire, stargaze every night.

Running to a general store for ice will be your biggest task of the week.hiker

Wilderness boundary, abundant dirt roads and freedom; cell phone calls dropped. Beyond the city limits. Well past the county line.

Wilderness Lakes

Roads do lead out of the matrix, if you desire to follow them. Concentrate on a new reality – and disconnect long enough to commune with nature. Find the free time to really relax and re-evaluate life. Explore other options, consider real life in the bigger picture. Hike, bike, walk, camp, birdwatch. Be outdoors, often!

Vbeardrive
Beat the Summer Heat and head to upper elevation Cool Forests
Curly Lupine
Curly Lupine @ Mill Creek, CA

Cheap Road Trips

Total Escape is your California planner. We’ve been doing this “region” for more than 30 years, always focusing on the back roads. Discover hidden secrets, meadows and unknown waterfalls. Find free campsites, canyons, rivers, creeks and new places to explore.

Find something OUTDOORS, this weekend –

canoe

All posts alphabetical
California A to Z

avoid crowds

back roads

lake list

out of the box

play hooky

recreate

camp fish  4x4

Most popular pages on Total Escape –

Granite Creek
Granite Creek Campground NFS

nicemeadows

32S13 – Los Padres NF

Sierra Madre Road
Sierra Madre Ridge, San Rafael Wilderness

Los Padres National Forest
Forest Road #32S13

off of Cuyama Valley Hwy 166

32S13 Sierra Madre Road

East of Santa Maria, CA – along Highway 166 (on the south side of the pavement) are several dirt roads that lead up to the main ridge road that access this part of Los Padres National Forest.

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • dirt bike trails
  • dirt roads
  • hiking
  • horse camping
  • mountain biking
  • off road routes
  • petroglyhs
  • wildflowers

4WD not required, but high clearance is helpful. Open almost all year. Rainy season gate closures (at hwy) during winter months.

4x4

dirtbikes

cruiseronridge

Sierra Madre Mountains

Miranda Pine Mountain (elev. 4120′)
Timber Peak (elev. 4754′)
Peak Mountain (elev. 5843′)
McPherson Peak (elev. 5749′)
Samon Peak (elev. 6221′)

Sierra Madre Ridge is forest road #32S13, which parallels Hwy 166 (Cuyama River) for over 50 miles on the Sierra Madre Ridge at approx. 5000 feet elevation.

NOTE: A good stretch of this dirt road is closed to vehicle traffic. Although it connects to Santa Barbara Canyon near Ventucopa, you cannot drive it. Only hike or mountain bike!

Hog Pen Sign

NFS Gate locked at the HOG PEN trailhead, and from there you can bike or walk all the way the other end at Santa Barbara Canyon near Cuayama Fire Lookout @ Dick Smith Wilderness

Still Standing

camp

Small campgrounds in the region:

off Highway 166
Miranda Pine Campground (on 32S13 @ 11N03)
Bates Canyon Campground (via Cottonwood Canyon Rd)
also known as White Oaks Campground
Aliso Canyon Campground (via Aliso Canyon Road)
not accessible by vehicle, from dirt road 32S13; only by trail

in the backcountry
Painted Rock Camp (hike-in)
Sycamore Camp (hike-in)

high clearance, off road accessible
Horseshoe Springs (11N04)
Lazy Campground (11N04)
Wagon Flat Campground (11N03)
Barrel Springs (10N06)
Colson Canyon (11N04)

wildflower

coastridges

Highway 166 Cuyama River Valley
EAST San Luis Obispo County

Wildflowers Bloom: APRIL-MAY

mayflowers

redflora

San Rafael Wilderness

Sisquoc River
Native Rock Art
Sierra Madre Mountains

Rock Art Sign

MAPS of the Area:

hiker

Los Padres USFS MAP
Los Padres Topo Atlas
Los Padres West NatGeo Map
Dick Smith Wilderness Map

sisquocriver6nearby destinations: 

Cuyama Peak Fire Lookout
New Cuyama, CA

Rock Front Ranch 4×4
Santa Maria, CA
Ventucopa, CA

Footed Rock

Footed Rock @ Bald Rock
Berry Creek, California

Before and After Photo

Wildfire: Bear Fire / North Complex 2020

The Skinny Lone Cedar hangs on with Footed Rock. Bushes on the right side, had the flames licking at this tiny tree.

Footed Swipe

Berry Creek, CAfooted rock 95916

Many thanks to whoever cut/broke the mistletoe off in recent years. I never seem to hike with my loppers.

Bald Rock California

Footed Rock is a part of the popular Bald Rock hike. summer 2021 CURRENTLY CLOSED hiking trail in Berry Creek, CA

Mushroom Rock
Mushroom Rock @ Bald Rock

 

Lumber for Market
Lumber for Market, just sitting on the side of the road.

Log Truck Drivers make over $100/hour – yet there is still a job shortage in 2021. Go figure!

mountains

see more swipe photos –

Bald Rock California

decimated
Decimated forest at Bald Rock: Trail Closed 2020-2021

bigbaldrocks
Bald Rock, North Sierra Nevada Mountains

Big Bald Rock

elevation: 3350′

2021: CLOSED due to wildfire damage

Bald Rock Trailhead, Berry Creek, CA
Located above Lake Oroville and near the Middle Fork of the Feather River, this well known trailhead is a 1 mile (short, steep & sweet) climb on top of granite rocks – to a wonderful view over the North Sacramento Valley. Dirt parking lot w/ bathroom in a forested setting.  Can get muddy during winter. Seasonal creek runs along first part of the hiking trail. Locals like to party here at night. Families hike during daylight and sunset hour.  Trailhead sign is well marked on paved Bald Rock Road, about 6 miles from the Oro Quincy Highway.

see more info for this hike

digger pines

Bald Rock Country
Bald Rock Country

 

footed
Footed Rock @ Bald Rock, Berry Creek, CA

The granite dome hike (above) is often confused with a neighboring trail to the south, called Bald Rock Dome, located at the granite gorge of the Middle Feather River. A much longer hike w/ a canyon view, switchbacks, and longer dirt road access…..hiker

Dome Trail Hike

approx. elevation: 3200′

2021: CLOSED due to wildfire damage

Another dome hike in the same area as above, but on the other side of the pavement; gravel parking lot, and trailhead via dirt road; a right turn off Bald Rock Road (when going north). Near the residential forest of Berry Creek, CA

see more details

Plumas National Forest, above Lake Oroville, CA

The official map for Lake Oroville SRA has a granite dome marked as Little Bald Rock @ 3334′ elev. The USDA Plumas National Forest map has both a Little Bald Rock and a Bald Rock Dome (3509′) located on this side of Bald Rock Road.

As you can see listed below, giant granite domes or mountain peaks or river canyons often have the generic name of ‘bald rock’ There are also a heck of a lotta Bald Mountains inside the golden state.

camptruck

also, in the vicinity –

campBald Rock Canyon is downstream from the big waterfall, Feather Falls, on the Middle Fork of the Feather River; This stretch of wilderness waterway is called Feather Falls Scenic Area which includes, Milsap Bar Campground; Maybe be accessible, by 4×4 and steep foot trail – from the opposite side of the river. Off Lumpkin Road, which is off Forbestown Road (@ 162 above Lake Oroville) 2021: CLOSED due to wildfire damage

Bald Rock Peak (elev 7166′) a mountain peak near Chilcoot Campground and Frenchman Lake, N of Hwy 70 in East Plumas National Forest

Bald Mountain (5780′) off the Skyway, next to Stirling City, CA
Fire Lookout CDF, weather cam & antenna site

canoe

Little Grass Valley Reservoir has two Balds

pinetreeOn the north side of the lake is Grass Valley Bald Mountain (5906′ elev) in between Black Rock Creek and the northern shore.

The La Porte Bald Mountain Peak (5906′ elev) is located in dense forest, in Plumas National Forest; In between LGVR and the town of La Porte, CA 4959′

Area accessible via a long and curvy La Porte Road, which closes in winter on the north end (East Quincy). This Plumas County area is popular w/ snowmobiling due to the amount of snow they receive.

snowmo

Bald Mountain Range, due north of Truckee and Stampede Reservoir. Near the CA / NV border. Babbitt Peak @ 8790′ is the tallest peak within this range. Historical Henness Pass Road passes through this area.

fish

Bald Mountain OHV Staging Area, on Rock Creek Trails
inside Eldorado National Forest 

dirtbikes

Bald Mountain Peak @ Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
(2279′ elev) located in between Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley.

M22 Mendocino Forest, eastside
Forest Route #M22 is on Valentine Ridge, east of South Yolla Bolly (elev 8092′) and near Bald Rock Mountain (7762′)Road M-22 is also known as Bald Rock Road.
Mendocino National Forest – Two trailheads up this way are Ides Cove and Horsepacker. M22 wraps around south to Ball Rock @ 6663′ elevation, near Rocky Cabin Campground. Cold Springs Guard Station, Ball Mountain 6557′ and Whitlock Campground are on this route. Much this region has been burnt in recent wildfires of 2020 #ElkhornFire

driftwood

similarly named – BALD

Mount Baldy, Ranch Cucamonga Wilderness
San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles, CA

Popular, local snow ski destination for “the southland”; south of Pasadena, near Rancho Cucamonga, in the San Gabriel Mountains.’

snowski

Bald Mountain Road, also known as Inyo Forest Road #01S05, near Indiana Summit and the Mono Craters. East of the Eastern Sierra & US 395; south of Mono Lake, California.

Bald Mountain Road, near Bummerville, California.
Gold Country Sierra Forests, East of Hwy 49 @ Jackson, CA

Bald Mountain Road, rural ranches & residential;
and Bald Mountain Nursery in Browns Valley, near Marysville, CA

 

Bald Hills Rd
Bald Hills Road, Redwoods NP

Bald Hills Road, Northern California

Well- traveled, graded dirt road connecting the Redwood National Park to the Klamath River @ Hwy 96. Primitive camping, but check on fire restrictions. Must have camp fire permit.  Active logging roads on National Forest land, so weekdays could be busy: watch for equipment and big trucks.

pinetree

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Bald Mountain @ Shermans Pass
Kern Plateau; 4×4 access to reach Fire Lookout Tower
Sherman’s Pass Road# 22S05, near Dome Land Wilderness
Sequoia National Forest

NFSlogo

Bald Mountain 4×4 Trail
Western Sierra NF, overlooking Shaver Lake, CA

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

4x4

Mammoth Fishing



Stark Weather Lake

Originally uploaded by danamight

Mammoth Mountain Lakes / Eastern Sierra Fishing

Sure splendor for fishing, most of the time. Lake fishing, stream fishing, river fishing. Fishing the Eastern Sierra area, near Mammoth Lakes, California can be very rewarding. You may have read about places like these in the sports magazines, seen them on a television program, or imagined them in a fishing vacation day dream. Summers can be crowded, so pick a lake and camp carefully. Weather can change quickly, so come prepared. Autumn fishing w/ the golden aspens and less crowds is preferred.

fishing trip

Most of these Eastern Sierra lakes listed below are accessible by car, others by foot. Look at the photos, pick a destination and get a good map of the area, so you can explore everything around too.

Mammoth Lakes Area

Mammoth Area Lakes – Mammoth City

Mammoth Area Creeks –

Mammoth Area Rivers –

  • Owens River (high desert valley)
  • San Joaquin River (high country)

junelake

June Lake Loop
Eastern Sierra, US 395 @ Hwy 158

June Area Lakes –

June Loop Creeks –

Mammoth Maps

inyo maps
Inyo National Forest Map

Ansel Adams Wilderness Maps
Devils Postpile Map
Mammoth High Country Map
Mono Divide Trail Map
Mammoth Mono Map NatGeo

other Eastern Sierra maps –

Bishop Pass Trail Maps
Hoover Wilderness Trail Map
John Muir Wilderness Maps
Mono Lake Map
Palisades Trail Maps

horseback overnight trips
Abundant Horse Packers in Eastern Sierra, California