Tag Archives: creek

Plumas Campgrounds

Plumas Campsites

Snake Lake Campground near Quincy, California
Snake Lake Campground near Quincy, California

hikerPlumas National Forest has excellent outdoor recreation and developed campgrounds, as well as secluded, primitive back roads camping sites. If you prefer a camp with table, toilet and a campfire ring, then expect to pay a fee. There are several small, remote campgrounds listed below, but most are located on paved roads. Venture down dirt roads to find a premium camp sites for free. Scroll the map links below to explore the back roads of Plumas, and discover hidden fishing holes.

SOME CAMPGROUNDS are closed due to  wildfire damage in the Plumas region.

#BearFire #NorthComplex wildland fires 2020
#DixieFire wildfire 2021

fish  4x4  camp

Plumas Camping; Sierra Nevada Campgrounds; Feather River, Fishing Lakes, Reservoirs, PCT

campground elev spots toilet water notes
Black Rock Campground 5046′ 20 vault piped Little Grass Valley Res.
Boulder Creek Campground 5000′ 70 vault piped reservations
Antelope Lake
Brady’s Campground 7200′ 4 vault creek Greenhorn
Pine Creek
Cottonwood Springs Group Camp 5700′ 20 vault creek reservations
Conklin Park Campground 5900′ 9 vault creek US Hwy 395
Crocker Campground 5800′ 10 vault creek Eagle Lake
Deanes Valley Campground 4400′ 7 vault creek dirt road
#24N20

Feather Falls Campground 2500′ 5 vault piped CLOSED
Gansner Bar Campground 2300′ 14 flush piped Caribou Road,
North Feather
Gold Lake Campground 6400′ 6 vault lake 4WD camp site, LBRA
Grizzly Creek Campground 5000′ 8 vault piped reservations
Bucks Lake
Hallsted Campground 2800′ 20 flush piped reservations
North Feather
Horse Camp 5046′ 10 vault lake Little Grass Valley Res.
Hutchins Campground 5200′ 10 flush piped Bucks Lake
Lake Almanor Campground 4500′ 53 vault piped reservations
Lakes Basin Campground 6400′ 24 vault piped Lakes Basin Rec.
Laufman Campground 5100′ 6 vault creek US Hwy 395
Little North Fork 4000′ 8 vault creek CLOSED
Lone Rock Campground 5000′ 87 vault creek reservations
Antelope Lake
Long Point Campground 5000′ 38 vault creek reservations
Antelope Lake
Meadow  Campground 6100′ 6 vault no dirt road
#24N29
Mill Creek Campground 5000′ 10 vault piped Bucks Lake
Milsap Bar Campground 1600′ 20 vault creek CLOSED
North Fork Campground 2600′ 20 vault piped reservations
North Feather
Peninsula Campground 5046′ 25 flush piped Little Grass Valley Res.
Queen Lily Campground 2600′ 12 flush piped reservations
North Feather
Red Feather Campground 5100′ 60 flush piped Little Grass Valley Res.
Rock Creek Campground 4000′ 6 vault no dirt road
#24N20
Rogers Cow Camp 4000′ 5 vault no CLOSED
Ross Camp 6070′ 5 vault no high clearance
Silver Lake Campground 5800′ 8 vault lake CLOSED
Snake Lake Campground 4200′ 9 vault lake horse corrals
RV + trailers
Sundew Campground 5000′ 19 vault piped Bucks Lake
Tooms Vehicle Campground 5046′ 20 vault piped Little Grass Valley Res.
Whitehorse Campground 5000′ 20 vault creek reservations
Plumas National Forest Map
Plumas National Forest Map

 

ceremony site
This particular camp spot is shady and has bench seats. A perfect little ceremonial set up.

 

  • backpackingboatramp
  • boating
  • camping
  • fishing
  • forests
  • hiking
  • hunting
  • kayakingcanoe
  • lakes
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • swimming holes
  • wildlife

see also – Plumas Camping

primitive camp sites hikes camp NFSlogo

FIRE LOOKOUTS & NFS CABINS for rent

RogersCowCamp
Rogers Cow Camp on Oro-Quincy Highway, North Sierra Nevada
secludedcamp
Dense forest @ Deane’s Valley Camp, in between Quincy & Meadow Valley, CA

Plumas Forest Maps

goldshore
Mini Gold Lake, near Silver Lake @ Bucks

Plumas Forest Regions

  • Beckworth Ranger District

Lake Davis, Conklin, Crocker, Gold Lake, Lakes Basin

  • Feather River Ranger District

Little Grass Valley Res., Sly Creek, Feather River

  • Mount Hough Ranger District

Antelope Lake, Bucks Lake, Feather River Canyon, Indian Valley

Bike Trail Lake Almanor

Paved bike path along the west shore of Lake Almanor, a very developed lakeshore community, south of Mount Lassen peak.

Fouts Springs

fout springsFouts Springs California

dirtbikes

2018 Mendo Complex Wildfire has affected this area. Expect some closures on trails and roads.

Stonyford Recreation Area
USFS Grindstone Ranger District
Mendocino National Forest

roadtofouts
Paved Road M10, Mendo National Forest

Fouts Campground NFS

Lat – 39° 21′ 35.05307″
Long – 122° 39′ 07.87442″

4x4

OHV

off highway vehicle use is abundant

Fouts Springs is multi-use recreation area on the east side of Mendocino National Forest. Located near the Snow Mountain Wilderness trailhead, this region is popular with the off-roaders and dirt bikers. Expect some noise if camping overnight on a weekend.

Excellent picnic spots along creek in springtime. Wildflowers bloom March-May. Campfire restrictions may begin as early as July, so know current fire conditions.

fouts water

fouts camp

camp

campground elev spots veg toilet water notes
Davis Flat Campground 1700′ 20 mixed vault no OHV + RV trailers
Fouts Campground 1700′ 11 mixed vault piped OHV trails
Little Stony Campground 1500′ 8 pines vault no OHV trails
Mill Creek Campground 1700′ 5 mixed yes no OHV trails
South Fork Campground 1700′ 4 mixed vault creek Stony Creek

Spring Fouts MendoFouts campgrounds are located on the EAST SIDE of Mendo NF on paved road M10. Situated below 2000′ elevation and open year round.

Road M10 Mendo
Road M10 Mendocino

TRAVELERS NOTE: Tent campers, RV and truck campers can easily access this area, all paved roads. Exit Williams or Willows on I-5 and head west. A decent back country map or Mendocino National Forest Map is advised; Numerous canyons, forested creeks and campgrounds. Always check with Mendocino National Forest for road closures and conditions.

dirt bike crossing

OFF-ROADERS NOTE: Use caution on paved access road M10, especially when driving with trailers or large RVs. Narrow road, long and winding with blind curves and no guard rails. Always check with Mendocino National Forest for road closures and trail conditions.

4x4

Mendocino Ranger Stations can be found on link below

NFSMendocino National Forest

foutspicnic

picnic

wildflower

Roxie Peconom Campground

Lassen Forest Road #29N03
Roxie Peconom Camp

Roxie Peconom

MAIDU INDIANS: Roxie was a native medicine woman and lived over 100 years in these parts. Read more here

AUG 2021: Closed due to the Dixie Fire

Wild onions were found along the top of Thompson, Diamond, Eagle Lake, Willard, and Mountain Meadows.

Lassen National Forest – W of Susanville, CA

This pine forest is home to the developed NFS campground – which has been named after the tribal elder. The camp location is a sacred spot to the local native tribes. Just above Susanville, CA on the west side, south of the highway; forested w/ creeks and aspen groves. Autumn colors can be found in the creek beds.

Dirt roads all over the place, leading to far away destinations like Diamond Mountain, Antelope Lake and Taylorsville. The backcountry region was recently damaged by wildfires: 2020 Sheep Fire and now the Dixie Fire 

pinetree

FREE CAMPING – W Susanville, CA
en route camp

Less than 3 miles of dirt road #29N03 driving will get you back off the highway and into this forest, Hwy 36 W of Susanville. Bring the mountain bike for abundant usage and a week of exploring.

Only 13 miles to downtown Susanville, via the back road. Chaney Creek Road is a main dirt road near Highway 36, which parallels the river, the red rock bluff and the road, downhill into town.

This FREE campground is popular with the hipcampers and pediums – and gets rave reviews; small RV campers do like to use this camp spot, if they don’t mind a little dirt road driving; they’ll need to park in the dirt parking lot, 40+ feet away (not adjacent to the picnic tables or fire rings).

  • camping

  • ceremony

  • drum circle

  • fishing

  • hiking

  • horseback trails

  • hunting

  • mountain bike

  • off road trails

Roxie Circle
Bear Dance Circle @ Roxie

roxie seating

walk in campground, and close to town

hiker

Shady Campground

Walk-In Campsites @ Roxie

AUG 2021 – CLOSED due to the Dixie Fire

Roxie P Campground
Susanville, CA – Lassen NFNFSlogo

• Elevation: 4,800′
• Number of Sites: 10 (walk-in only)
• Vehicle Accessibility: any
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Campsite Fee: No
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: open all year
• Trailheads: Diamond Peak

 

shadycamp

Flat forest and easy to walk. Shade and pine needles, picnic tables and group fire pits. All facilities are encompassed with a  sturdy wooden, fence line. No RV or trailer access to camp sites. Mountain bikers like this spot and so do horseback riders. Travelers passing through eastern California will welcome the convenient location, plus the ease of dirt road.

The Roxie Camp is situated near Willard Creek on the south side of the Highway 36, close to Susanville. Willard is a feeder stream into the Susan River, which flows into town.  Quiet camp, most of the time. If a big family is camping here w/ children, or there is a tribal gathering, it could get loud.

PLAN B –  head over to Goumaz Campground NFS, due north. Located in between, near the junction of Hwy 38 & 44. Near the railroad tracks and the Susan River. Smaller camp near the NRT (National Recreation Trail), the  Biz Johnson Trail (BLM).
2021, this camp is CLOSED!

so find someplace else: PLAN C
(make sure any camp is open by calling rangers before traveling).

Fire Lookout hike near Milford Grade

Susanville Hiking Trails PDF
BLM Southside Trails
mountain bike, hike, horseback

aspenroxie
Aspen trees at Roxie in Autumn

dirtbikes

off road Susanville

OHV activity may be passing the developed campground, but are discouraged – due to the layout of camp. Plenty spots for ‘froaders further out – at the end of the road. Way back there!

Jeeps, 4×4 trucks, quads, dirt bikes, anglers and hunters travel these dirt back roads, as well as rangers, campers, horses, mountain bikes, and big logging trucks. 25 mph slow is always best. Daytime headlights help you get seen in the shadows. Forest is dense and road conditions are ever changing.

Forest Road #29N03 is Gold Run Road, the bumpy dirt road – that skirts around Diamond Mountain on the south side. Lots of one single track or one-lane dirt roads, which will require a National Forest map or a decent topo map to navigate properly.

OHV is common in these areas, but not so busy at this camp. If you seek peace and quiet and solitude, know how to read a map and where the noise is expected to be. Avoid the OHV areas, if you want to nap in the hammock and read a book.

Wild red necks with guns live in NorCal, so pay close attention to property lines and trespassing signs.

ranger

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

Lassen National Forest
Ranger Station USFS

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

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

fish

NEARBY TOWNS:

Chester, CA
Lake Almanor, CA
Susanville, CA
Westwood, CA

Susan River is nearby, but not really walking distance from Roxie Camp

eagleclouds
Large Eagle Lake, N of Susanville, CA

Lassen Hot Springs

Hot Springs Creek,
Lassen Volcanic National Park

pinetree

Are there any hot springs in Lassen?

ChildsMdw

Fumaroles and Boiling Mudpots
Hot Springs near Lassen Peak Volcano

South side of Mount Lassen, outside the National Park boundary several non-soakable hot springs exist:

  • Growler Hot Springs (private land)
  • Morgan Hot Springs (private land)
    * Measured temperatures of these hot springs range from 126 to 207°F (52-97°C), so basically SCALDING HOT & dangerous

USGS website link w/ detailed info on this whole volcanic region.
https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/fs101-02/

hiker

  • Little Hot Springs Valley (within the National Park boundary) is also not fit for public use either. Although it may be appealing as a sightseeing destination, (accessible by dirt road) it is far from soaking quality.

mountains

Hot Springs Creek flows south into Mill CreekNPS

DixieFire 2021 ravaged California’s Volcanic National Park. Morgan Mountain lightning strike fire merged with the monster fire to the east. NPS fire crews and CalFire lit a back fire near the Visitors Center on Hwy 89 – to burn and meet the bigger oncoming fire. Winds from the north forced the giant wildfire from the peaks and down hill to Mill Creek and Child Meadows, where firefighters were able to control the leading edge of the fire.

califrepublic

Lassen National Forest
Lassen National Park
Lassen Forest Roads
Lassen Lakes
Lassen Camping
Camp Lassen

drakesbadlodge

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

the only real hot springs worth visiting around Lassen National Park

rumors have it that the resort may still be standing – after the fire!

Built in 1900, this historic, rustic mountain meadow resort is accessible by dirt road through Warner Valley – north of Chester, CA. They have a  swimming pool, naturally heated by the local hot springs. Plus rental horses, hiking trailheads and a developed campground nearby.

JULY 2021 – Drakesbad is CLOSED due to wildfire Dixie Fire

showers

horserental

ranger

nearby towns: 

Chester, CA
Mill Creek, CA
Mineral, CA

Ross Campground

Ross Camp
Ross Campground

Plumas National Forest

Located 3 miles above Plumas Eureka State Park and historic Johnsville, CA

Adjacent to Lakes Basin Recreation Area – accessible by dirt road or hiking, or by paved road (back to the highway)

Jamison Creek Canyon:
the small stream flows all year long

ross camp

4x4Small Sierra Nevada camp on Upper Jamison Creek in a granite canyon, within a gorgeous red fir forests, wildflowers and fresh mountain air.

high clearance vehicle recommended

Gravel (rocky) road access, and here we use the word “road” loosely:
Plumas County Road #507
Plumas Forest Route 507

also known as Johnsville Road; Johnsville McRea Road (misspelled McCrea on Google Maps)

johnsville3

plumas

Ross Campground NFS
• Elevation: 6,070′
• Number of Sites: 5
• Vehicle Accessibility: High clearance; No RVs or trailers
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Campsite Reservation: No
• Toilet: Vault
• Water: Creek only
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May–October
• Trailhead: McRea Ridge & PCT

camp

granite canyon

private spot
PLUMAS_map

  • camping
  • dirt roads
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • swimming holes
  • stargazing
  • wildflowers

entrance

RUSTIC CAMP: No Picnic Tables!

4 camp sites are located at this turnoff @ driveway. Another single camp spot is located half mile up road, next to 2 nice swimming holes. Although the National Forest web site states that this place has 3 sites, it does indeed have 5 camp fire rings. All are available on a first come basis.

No OHV off-road riding in camp.snow

Snow is possible at this elevation, between October-April. Thunderstorms are common in summer in the Sierra Nevada mountains. 4×4 will be needed to access this area, if winter weather sets in.

Across Jamison Creek from Ross Camp
is Mount Fillmore @ 7715′ elev.
Up canyon is Mc Rae Ridge
PCT trailhead
Mt Etna @ 7063′
Blue Nose Mtn @ 7290′

camp fees

USFS  just started charging a fee for this remote creekside camp. It used to be free, but no more.

Lakes Basin California

nearest towns:

ceremony site
This particular large camp spot is shady, level and has bench seats. A perfect little ceremony camp setting.

Blue Lake Modoc

Modoc Blue Lake
Blue Lake in Modoc National Forest
Hiking Lake
Hiking Lake w/ Loop Trail in far Northern California

Blue Lake
Modoc National Forest

When you really wanna get away from it all, take a week off and head up to Modoc – the top northeast corner of California, where the volcanic mountains line the Great Basin.  The population is minimal, cattle are abundant and the campers few. Even in mid summer, this ideal lake campground rarely fills up.

camp

Jess Valley Road leads east off US 395 @ Likely, CA – 16 miles back to this hidden gem.

Headwaters to the Pit River.

NFS Campground is shady, well managed, and spread out on the eastern slope w/ numerous paved loops. Tent campers, cross country cyclists, truck campers w/ canoes, SUV families, motorhomes with kayaks and kids.

modoc map
Modoc Map

Blue Lake Campground NFS
• Elevation: 6,050′
• Number of Sites: 48
• Vehicle Accessibility: 32′ RV
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Campsite Reservation: No
• Water: Piped
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May –October
• Trailhead: Lake Loop
• Boat Ramp: Yes

Group Camp Facilities (by reservation only)
Modoc NF Warner Ranger District
@ 530-279-6116

Lava Blue Lake
Lava Rock @ Blue Lake Loop, in Modoc County, CA

Blue Lake National Recreation Trail

hikerRight next to camp: A pretty much perfect LAKE LOOP (1.5 mi) hiking trail is worth a serious stroll; footbridge, wildflowers, fishing spots, minimal hills, lava rocks, and awesome scenery. Plenty of wildlife can be seen, including butterflies and bald eagles. Trail is shaded by tall white fir and ponderosa pine trees. Trailhead is located at the Day Use parking lot, w/ paved boat ramp, dock, and picnic area.

stars canoe  fish

  • back roads
  • boating
  • camping
  • canoeing
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • picnicking
  • swimming
  • stargazing
  • wildflowers
  • wildlife

Wild Blue Lake

NOTE: not every CAMPSITE has a LAKE VIEW

Certain campsites are adjacent to the lake; some are set facing a meadow (Autumn w/ aspen groves), or the alpine forest w/ deer grazing. Perhaps an inner circle (interior) campsite, for those who like to be close to bathrooms and piped water. Large families will love the abundance of camp settings and accommodations.

Paved Loop
Plenty of Vault Toilets
Piped Water
Recycles & Trash Service

Large Campsites
Large Campsites can accommodate Motorhomes
  • no paved camp stall
  • no hook-ups
  • no dump station
  • no cell phone signalcamptruck

popular lake camp for motorhomes

When driving a large RV back in here, be courteous of other campers. Nothing sucks more than driving a long distance to the boonies, to arrive at camp just before dark and annoying everyone else already there.

Those needing to drive the campground loops (more than twice) looking for the biggest, levelest, best camp site – and burning $10 in gasoline doing so, should consider walking in.RV

Park that beast (near boat ramp area, before the camp entrance). Get out and walk the hills and loops, BREATHE & relax – prior to a choosing camp site.

Unhitch any tow vehicles; use that to scout out your perfect spot, if you cannot hike it. Trailers and large motorhomes will find this place ideal, but getting the right camp, can make all the difference.

Trail around Campground

Paved Trail around Campground

The wildfire: BLUE FIRE burned this region in 2001, but it is lush and green again (2019). Northern California gets some real weather. Rain and snow, more than half the year. The campground closes annually due to snow.

Kayaking is best done in the morning, cuz wind picks up in the afternoon. Canoes can launch at boat ramp, or at shoreline from trails near campsite.

Hiking trails can be found all around lake and campground. Wilderness access can be found at South Warner trailheads within a short drive from the lake.

Cyclists also love this camp, as it is located near a major highway and is a perfect place to really relax, soak in the scenery and get some quiet-nights sleep.

Modoc National ForestNFSlogo
225 West 8th Street
Alturas, CA 96101
530-233-5811

 

south warner sign

South Warner Wilderness is close by, driving distance; accessible by graded dirt roads. Signage is decent.

Modoc Forest Road #64 is a through-route, across the lower South Warners – 40
miles connecting to east side of the mountain, at Eagleville, CA.

Dirt Roads are suitable for trucks w/ trailers. SUVs and rugged passenger cars are okay. Motorhomes are not advised on this route.  Washboard conditions are typical. Winter closure on this route is common.

south warner mountains map

MODOC RD 64

Several miles away from Blue Lake, 2 rustic trailhead campgrounds are located back this way – East Creek Campground & Patterson Campground. Less than 10 camp sites each, equipped  w/ horse stalls, vault toilets and maybe piped water. Trailhead parking for backpackers. No RVs!

Autumn colors w/ aspen groves. Open, large meadows and mature forests w/ wildfire scars. Cattle can be found grazing all around, many cattle crossing.

Minimal primitive camping options, along road sides. Campfire permits required. No camping within one mile of a developed campground.

Cow Country
Modoc is Cow Country
Road64
Day Trippin – Out exploring Modoc Road 64 (and cutting firewood)

nearby towns –

see also –
Mill Creek Falls Campground

23S16 – Sequoia NF

Sugarloaf Ridge, Greenhorn Mts
Alta Sierra, Kern River Canyon

sugarloafrd
Sugarloaf Road, above Kern River Canyon

SOUTH SIERRA: This route is located in between the Western Divide Highway and the cedar community of Alta Sierra, CA

Sequoia Camping

Sugarloaf Ridge: Forest Rd# 23S16 – Thompson Camp Spring, The Den @ Sequoia National Forest

Driving north on Sierra Hwy N of Kernville, California; Passing Fairview & the Johnsondale bridge; After the R Ranch @ Johnsondale, take the left fork on the main highway; After you climb in elevation, look for brown signs on right side of road & turn left on Forest Service Rd# 23S16. Primitive camp sites are located throughout this area along Packsaddle Creek. Do not turn left up Sugarloaf Rd. There are no good camp sites up that way (unless you wanna make one).

RV campers are very common at Thompson Camp Spring, as this road is paved up to this point. The paved road is windy & narrows after this point. It is not advised for trailers or long motorhomes past Thompson.

For the more adventurous, Bear Meadow & Packsaddle Mdw are located up the dirt road a bit on #23S64.

Vsugar

Paved Sequoia route# 23S16 continues to climb, which leads to the Speas Meadow, the Greenhorn Mountains & you best have a real good map if you are heading up this way. 20 miles of awesome open meadows, small streams, dense forest, wildflowers, some primitive camp sites & great viewpoints overlooking the Kern Canyon. All passenger car accessible! Elevations between 6000-7000′. Sugarloaf Peak has cross country skiing.

Side route #23S05 will take you to White River Campground w/ 12 spots. The paved road winds west down the mountain to Posey & eventually Glennville on Hwy 155.

Instead, to easily reach Hwy 155 – you’ll need to get on dirt for a few miles. While on 23S16, look for the Panorama Campground (@ 7400′ elevation w/ 10 sites). Take dirt road #24S15 to get back to civilization @ Alta Sierra, California.

NFSlogo

Sequoia National Forest

Sequoia National Forest MAP

Sequoia Forest Topo Atlas

 

nearby small towns are:

Vbeardrive

Best Paved Roads in the Sierra Nevada

Pine Canyon Road
Inyo National Forest Rd # 6S17
Bishop, CA

Western Divide Highway
Giant Sequoia NM
Ponderosa, CA
(LIMITED ACCESS 2021, due to wildfire damage)

Forks of the Kern: Sequoia National Forest
Forest Rd# 22S82
(CLOSED 2021, due to wildfire damage)

23N16 Motorcylce Ride: Pashnit
pashnit.com/ca-forest-road-23s16

kernwildflowers
Kern River Wildflowers (April) w/ Sugarloaf Mountains

Matilija Wilderness

Upper Matilija Fall

Matilija Wilderness
Matilija Falls

Matilija Canyon
North of Ojai, California

Los Padres National Forest Map

Established 1992 by the Los Padres Condor Range & River Protection Act.

29,600 acres
Ojai, CA

Los Padres National Forest
Ojai Ranger District
805-646-4348

USDA web link – Matilija Wilderness

hikelospadres.com/matilija-wilderness

The coastal mountain range wilderness located approximately 12 miles north of Ojai, CA. Drive 5 miles N on Highway 33; left at the Matilija Canyon Road turn off.

Chaparral is the prevalent vegetation with poppies plentiful in springtime. Cottonwood, alder and maple trees dominate the canyon. One trail has trail campsites along it and follows 9 miles of the North Fork, gaining about 3,400′ feet in elevation as it makes a north-south journey, and leaving the Wilderness at a parking area on Cherry Creek Road. This road is open seasonally from Aug. 1 to Dec. 15

small water fall

This whole area burnt in a recent wildfire and much of it may be closed off to the public.

Matilija Canyon Trails & Trailheads

Landowner closes popular trail to Matilija Falls (2010)


View Larger Map

aaron climbing

Matilija Creek Bed

Fishing Maps California

owensfishing

California Fishing Maps & Destinations

California fishing recreation ranges from sport-fishing, an open sea adventure, to solo casting in deep river canyons. Big Sierra Reservoirs near Gold Rush Country to High Country Alpine Lakes, the golden state has the water – and the outdoor recreation you crave.

Below is an alphabetical list of popular fishing destinations within California. Mountains to coastline, there are many maps to choose from.

American River, California

gonzagadusk

Baja California Maps
Surf, Camp, Fish, Kayak, Dive
Sea of Cortez, Baja CA Mexico

Big Bear Trail Map
San Berdoo Mountains Map
San Bernardino National Forest Map USDA
San Bernardino National Forest
Big Bear Lake, Arrowhead & Idyllwild
SoCal Mountains

Lake Berryessa California
Wine Country Reservoir

Bishop Creek Eastern Sierra

Bishop Pass Trail Map
North Lake, Sabrina, South Lake
Bishop Creek, Eastern Sierra

Bucks Lake Wilderness Map
Bucks Lake Wilderness, Quincy CA
Bucks Lake Campgrounds
North Sierra Mountains

California Delta Maps

Carson Pass, Sierra Highway 88
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map
Central Sierra Nevada Lakes & Rivers

Casitas Lake, Ventura County

Clear Lake, Wine Country California

Crystal Basin Sierra Nevada

Crystal Basin / Silver Fork Map
Central Sierra Nevada Mountains
Eldorado National Forest

El Dorado National Forest Map
Mokelumne, American River

Dinkey Lakes Wilderness Map
Tom Harrison Map
Sierra Hikes, Dinkey Creek

Golden Trout Wilderness Map
Upper Kern River, Southern Sierra

Green Creek Road
creek fishing, trailhead campgrounds
Bridgeport, CA Eastern Sierra

Hat Creek California 
Headwaters to the Pit River

Lake Havasu, California 

Hoover Wilderness Map
Hoover Wilderness
Bridgeport, CA Eastern Sierra

Hot Creek @ Mammoth Lakes, Eastern Sierra

Inyo National Forest Map
Mount Whitney, Owens River, High Sierra Lakes
Bishop, Crowley, Mammoth & June
Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains

Kearsarge Pass Topo

Kearsarge Pass Trail Map
Rae Lakes Loop, High Sierra
Onion Valley, Eastern Sierra

Kings Canyon High Country Map
Kings Cyn National Park
Trails, Peaks, hike-in only Lakes

Klamath National Forest Map
Klamath River, NorCal
Hwy 96, Happy Camp, Hupa/Hoopa

Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Lakes Basin Map USDA
over a dozen small lakes, w/ trails, fishing
Gold Lake California
Sierra Buttes, North of Gold Country

Lake Isabella, Kern River

Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada Mountains

Lake Tahoe Map

Lake Tahoe Basin Map NatGeo

Tahoe Eastshore

Lassen Forest Map
Lassen National Forest &
Lassen National Park
Feather River, Lassen Lakes

Mammoth Map

Mammoth Lakes Map NatGeo
Mammoth Lakes CA
Mono Divide, High Sierra
June Lake, Eastern Sierra Recreation

Rush Creek

Lake Mead, Nevada

NatGeo Lake Mead Map

Lake Mohave, Nevada

Merced River Recreation Map NatGeo
Merced River & Tuolumne River
Yosemite Camping & Fishing
Gold Country, Western Sierra Rivers

Millerton Reservoir, West Sierra
Fresno, CA

Mineral King Trail Map
Southern Sequoia National Park
day hike to wilderness lakes

Owens River, Eastern Sierra

Plumas National Forest Map
Lake Almanor, Lake Oroville
Feather River (all 4 forks)

Piru Lake, California

Pit River Fishing Map 

Sacramento River, North State

Sequoia National Forest Map
Kern River, Lake Isabella
Kern Plateau, Kennedy Mdws

Shasta National Forest Map
Sacramento River, Lake Shasta
NorCal fishing, Mount Shasta

Sierra National Forest Map
San Joaquin River, Dinkey Creek
Dinkey Lakes Map
Kings River, Pine Flat Reservoir
Lake Edison, Florence
Shaver Lake Map, Huntington Lake
BlackRock, Courtright, Wishon

Stanislaus National Forest Map
Stanislaus National Forest
Sonora Pass, Dardalelle
Stanislaus River, Gold Country

sierra buttes

Tahoe National Forest:

Tahoe Sierra Buttes Map NatGeo
Sierra Buttes / Donner Pass
Lakes Basin Recreation Area

Tahoe Yuba Map NatGeo
American River, Yuba River
Gold Country California

Toiyabe National Forest:
Eastern Sierra Nevada Mts

Toiyabe Carson Map
Carson River, Markleeville
Eastern Sierra, South of Tahoe

Toiyabe Bridgeport Map
Walker River, Twin Lakes
Eastern Sierra, Yosemite East

walker river California
Walker River California

Walker River Fly Fishing Map

lakes

let’s not forget the ever expanding…

California Lake List

rocklakefishing

McWay Falls

mcwayfalls

The super scenic Central Coast of California is home to numerous waterfalls, but this one on the Big Sur coast is, by far, the most well-known.

Since I camped out and slept on the cliff featured above, I thought I ought to create a post about it.

Julia Pfieffer Burns State Park is where the most photographed waterfall is located. The creek falls off of a cliff into a secluded cove, on a sandy beach just a few feet from the Pacific Ocean.

After visiting this place more than once, I knew I had to keep coming back. I even found this waterfall photo used as graphic marketing for Mexican Riveria cruises, by Costco.

But it’s not located in Mexico, nor Baja.
McWay is Big Sur!

specialview

 

hiker

One sunny autumn day, I called my camping pals to join me on our pre-planned camping trip to the majestic Big Sur coastline. Not just any camping spot or campground, but the two rare, hike-in campsites – located above McWay Falls. The camp reservations had been made months in advance and I was eager to leave the smog basin of L.A.

One by one, all my friends backed out of their commitment to camp that weekend. Too busy at work, a wedding or other plans interfered, home improvements, or the typical lame excuses that city folks always use not to travel locally.

…only 2 camp sites exist here, perched on a forested cliff, overlooking a private sandy cove w/ a gorgeous waterfall

I thoroughly explained to them the spectacular scenery, the unique location, the advanced reservations and fees, and the carpooling options. But not one person could go, so I went anyway.

All alone; which may have been the start of me craving to camp solo (way back in 1995).

The California State Park system has named these as environmental camps, where you must haul your gear – a half mile, on foot, in order to reach these special campsites. Picnic tables and campfire rings are provided, along w/ one vault toilet. Although a real bathroom w/ flush toilets is within walking distance, over at the main paved parking lot.

California049.JPG

INACCESSIBLE:

The picturesque sandy cove is off limits to all = campers, hikers and climbers. New fencing and signs warn visitors not to enter the small beach cove area. Sheer, steep cliffs w/ erosion are unstable and dangerous; and you may have a citation awaiting you, on your climb back up.

Accessing the cliff edges or private cove is dangerous and difficult, and totally off limits. If you wanna die trying, that’s up to you.

OVERNIGHT TIPS:

Reservations are needed to camp at this location. Contact California State Parks for booking this spot.

The ocean sounds of crashing waves on rocks is very, very loud. located just below (100 feet) the ideal camp sites. Bring ear plugs for sleeping.

Leave food and cooking to the tailgate. Parking in the paved, forested parking lot, and not transporting food, ice chest and cookware back and forth is the lazy way. Since I was camping alone and the parking lot was secluded and full of vegetation, I decided to try minimal food at camp. Worked well for me.

Blackberry bushes are abundant around parking lot.

PANCAKES ANYONE?

Danger looms around this State Park entrance, as Coast Highway 1 drivers tend to speed by at 55 mph, on a big shady curve. Be very careful crossing the road at this location and listen for traffic before you walk.

camp

TRAILS & DAY VISITORS:

Swarms of tourists stop at this location, just to walk out, photograph and view this waterfall. Many pay top dollar (day use) to park and then stay less than an hour. The tunnel trail goes past a pelton wheel and then underneath the highway – skirting along the north shore of the cove. The State Park gate closes at sunset, so very few people will be found roaming around after sundown.

Just hiking around this park, plus the back and forth to camp and car will feel like you’ve walked many miles. There is a redwood canyon and creek hike located in the inland portion of the State Park. Mountain peaks here reach to about 3000′ elevation.

AUG 2020 UPDATE: WILDFIRES burning most of this State Park and Limekiln State Park. Not sure how  the cove looks now, or if it was affected, but expect the hills to be black, up above the highway.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

calsp52801 CA State Route 1, Big Sur, CA 93920
831-667-1112

View aerial photographs 

If there is a single most popular image of Big Sur, it is probably of the 80 foot falls seen from this trail as McWay Creek cascades onto the sandy shore. hikinginbigsur.com/hikes_mcwayfalls.html

pinetree

Even though I spent the warm weekend alone, camping on a waterfall cliff and hiking redwoods forests, I enjoyed myself and the seclusion. I did meet 2 surfers traveling in a vintage VW bus and they joined me for my tailgate dinner one evening. On  the last night, the weather turned windy and a storm came in, so the next morning I was happy to leave. So, for all the camping pals that backed out at the last minute, this 2020 post is for you.

McWay Falls...again!

McWay Falls, Big Sur, CA

Sunset at McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

see also –

Free Campgrounds Sierra

Granite Creek

Free Campgrounds in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

no charge camp, no fee camping, free campgrounds

No fee camping: Bare bones. California Sierra Campgrounds without the fee.

NFSlogoDeveloped BLM or NFS campgrounds, where you can still have a campfire. Vault toilets, panic tables and fire rings. Use bear boxes when provided for proper food storage.

secluded campgrounds

Below is a good long list of some favorite free developed campgrounds in the Sierras. Many will require dirt road driving, as most are located well of the highway. Perhaps the 12 mile rough road will thin out the crowds. Free overnight stay!

2020 update: this list is shrinking, as more California National Forests start charging for the smallest of campgrounds. 

campfirePack in your drinking water and pack out your trash. Campfire permits are not required at developed campgrounds; but a bringing a water bucket and shovel is necessary for tending your campfire. Piped water is not always available, or perhaps, not in working order at these primitive style camps. Be prepared to rough it a little.

Sierra National Forest – Central Sierra

Mammoth Pool Areacamptruck

Granite Creek Camp
Granite Creek Campground

Redinger Lake lakeboatramp
open all year long; no campfires

Redinger Campground

Courtright Reservoirlake
no-fee OHV

Voyager Rock 4×4 Camping

4x4

Huntington Lakelake
no-fee OHV

West Kaiser Camp 4×4

Kaiser Pass Roadlake
no-fee camping

Dinkey Creek Roadlake

Sawmill Flat Campground

Kings River Campgroundfish
free river camping

mosquito_lake
Mosquito Lakes @ Ebbetts Pass Hwy 4

Stanislaus National Forest – Central Sierra

Highway 4 – Ebbetts Passhiker

mosquitoTH

Highway 108 – Sonora Pass

Hwy 120 – West of Yosemite NPcamp
Tuolumne Wild & Scenic River

Eldorado National Forest – Central Sierra

Tahoe National Forest – Northern Sierra

creekcanyon
Canyon Creek, Tahoe NF

Highway 89 – Truckeehiker

Interstate 80 – Donner Pass

French Meadows Reservoircanoe

campsite snag lake
Snag Lake (free) Camping on Gold Lake Highway

Plumas National Forest –  Northern Sierra

Brady’s Campcamptruck
NFS Campground
West of Quincy, CA
Highway 70

breckensign

Sequoia National Forest – Southern Sierra

Breckenridge Campground
Forest Rd# 28S06
South of Kern Rivertree_stainglass

Giant Sequoia Area

Kings River Area

Mill Flat Kings River
Mill Flat @ Kings River
campground mill creek
Kings River Camping

see alsoWalk-In Campsites


California Meadows

Cherry Mdws

California Meadows

California meadow is a common term people search for when dreaming of their mountain retreat vacation or upcoming weekend camping trip.

Meadows are places in the forest where cool air collects and settles. Deer among other wildlife, can often be found here grazing around dawn and dusk. Alpine meadows are usually surrounded by trees with lush green grasses, located at higher altitudes above 6000′ – the ‘highcountry’ as most like to say.

Find meadows on National Forest lands from 3000-10,000′ elevation, and it is not uncommon to see cattle grazing in these same regions. California National Parks have some of the most protected meadows in the golden state!

MT SAGE – mountain sage meadows

High desert mountains have drier landscapes, with large sage brush meadows surrounded by sparse pinon pine and/or juniper forest. The Mojave desert’s sagebrush reaches out westward to the peaks of West Kern County. High deserts and mountain meadows can both have significant wildflower blooms. The deserts start to show color in March & April, while the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada can bloom as late as July & August. All California Wildflowers depend on autumn seasonal rains & snow melt.

Kennedy Meadows from Bald
Kennedy Meadows from Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

Wilderness Meadows

The best places to find secluded wildflower meadows is on the high country trails of various mountains – Mount Pinos, Sierra Nevada, Shasta, Trinity & Lassen – all have marvelous meadows, some have easy access w/ parking nearby and others are hike-in only. Locate hiking trailheads for meadows and possibly find camp nearby.

Excellent near Meadows:
Stargazing, Wildflowers, Wildlife Viewing, Horse Camping

Explore dirt back roads of California to find your very own meadow. If you would like to explore at this level, a good topo map is highly advised. The Sierra Nevada mountains have the most beautiful meadows in the state (by far). Their scenery w/ granite outcroppings and wild flowers, surpasses all else. Although on rare occasions, even the Antelope Valley can look amazing — with poppies.

Common Wildflowers

BEST PLACES TO FIND MEADOWS

Lupine Drive

Rules of the Meadow

Mountain Meadows are sacred spaces: Do not disturb the lush, grassy landscape, as wildlife rely on these areas for survival.

No driving on meadows. No camping on meadows; No Campfires; Camp next to (or nearby), but not on top of the meadow. Picnicking should be kept on the sidelines.

4x4Stay on designated dirt roads: No tires across the meadow; No mountain biking, No dirt bikes, No off roading. You’re not spreading the seeds, you’re destroying a fragile ecosystem.

Ranch FENCING w/ barbed-wire is quite common around meadows, to keep cattle out of certain problem areas. Fences also help keep the wandering public out of private lands or sensitive areas.

hikerWhen hiking – stay out of the muddy spots and know that if you choose to hike directly across meadow, you may encounter water and deep, sinking mud. HINT: There is usually a shallow creek running through most meadows, during all times of the year.

Winter snow usually blankets these fragile areas in winter, and when deep enough – making this terrain prime destinations for snowmobilers.

Snow Mobiling

highmeadows

meadow views

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

Onion Valley Campground

whiteVWcamper

Spectacular Small Campground located inside a granite bowl above 9000′ elevation, on the edge of the granite, near the John Muir Wilderness trails.camp

Inyo National Forest near Independence, CA
Eastern Sierra California

One of the best high elevation trailhead camp for backpackers in the Sierra.

High Sierra Lake Hikes

Onion Valley Campground

Onion Valley CA

  • Elevation: 9,200′
  • Number of Sites: 29
  • Vehicle Accessibility: no RVs
  • Camp Fee: Yes
  • Campsites Reservation: Yes
  • Toilet: Vault
  • Water: Piped
  • Length of Stay: 14 Days
  • Season: June – Sept
  • Trailhead Parking

Inyo National Forest hiker
Mount Whitney Ranger District
760-876-6200

Trailhead parking & camping for these High Sierra destinations –

onionsign

wild mountain onions?

High elevation NFS campground, located in a huge granite valley w/ waterfalls, wildflowers and aspen groves. The setting is breathtaking and the high altitude valley is nothing less than grand.

The views (east to the Owens valley) are from the paved road up, or from the hiking trails leading up outta camp. Gotta hike up (on foot) to see the views! Any visitor that does not hike, will be missing out on the best features of this destination. Plan to spend more than one day at Onion Valley.

ONLY OPEN for summer months! This small, developed campground closes annually.  Big winters and deep snow is the norm w/ elevation this high.

 walk-in camp sites

tent campas well as car camping sites.

  • picnic tables
  • fire rings
  • vault toilets
  • piped water
  • bear boxes

ONION VALLEY ROAD
access via Independence, CA

The paved road is long and very winding; sheer cliffs, steep drop offs, hairpin curves, minimal guard rails. RV motorhomes are not allowed on this route, due to the steepness of the terrain and the narrow roadway. conradkid2001

  • backpacking
  • camp
  • hiking
  • horse pack trips
  • lake fishing
  • mountaineering
  • rock climbing

 

horsepacks hiking Mountains

Rae Lakes Loop Map
Topo Hiking Map

HIKING LAKES in the Sierra

goldentroutlakecanyon
Golden Trout Lake Canyon

Gilbert Lake @ Kearsarge

see Onion Valley photos from –
Onion Valley Autumn 2008
Onion Valley Summer 2002

McGee Creek Campground

McGee Shade

NFSlogo

McGee Creek Campground NFS

near Crowley Lake, CA
Inyo National Forest Campground, Eastern Sierra Nevadacamp

• Elevation: 7600′
• Number of Sites: 28
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Campsites Reservation: Yes
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May – September
• Trailheads: McGee Creek, John Muir Wilderness

mcgee camp sign

Mc GEE CREEK CAMP is located –
8 miles north of Mammoth Lakes exit
4 miles from Lake Crowley
2 miles from McGee Creek Canyon trailhead

Aspen trees line McGee Creek that flows down from the Eastern Sierra peaks. Autumn is short and sweet, when the fall colors come and go – usually within a week or two. First snow fall of the season is generally in October and the camp closes for the winter season.

Located about a mile away from Highway US 395 in the wide open high desert. Sage meadows w/ minimal trees at camp. USFS has built shade structures for each camp site, so your time here is not spent in direct sunlight. Summer can get hot  and it can also be quite windy at this location.

  • backpacking
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • mountain biking

mcgee creek

more McGee?

Closer to US 395 highway, there is a McGee Creek Lodge & Restaurant, right along the frontage road (Crowley Lake Drive).

And also, a more commercial camp called McGee Creek RV Park & Campground at the junction of McGee Creek Road.

McKinley Sequoia Grove

McKinley Grove

McKinley Grove Big Trees

Sierra National Forest

Mc Kinley Grove is a small grouping of Sequoia trees in the Central Sierra Nevada; Located off Hwy 168 & way down Dinkey Creek Road (Sierra Rd #40). deep inside Sierra National Forest, past the Dinkey Creek Campground turn off. It’s a good stretch break and picnic stop on your way to Wishon & Courtright Reservoirs.

Located 17 miles; East of Shaver Lake CA

McKInley Sequoia

camp

Sierra National Forest Map USDA

closest campgrounds –

hikes

 

nearby destinations –

NFS

local rangers:

Sierra National Forest
High Sierra Ranger District
29688 Auberry Rd
Prather, CA 93651
559-855-5355

Sequoia campsite


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

Find a Creek

Finding a Creek in California

Creek Bound Campers

California Stream Fishing
California Creek Camping

Since SoCal is more of a desert terrain, big water in California can be found elsewhere throughout the state. Natural waterways flow primarily from NorCal and from the backbone of the west coast, the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Determining the region to explore is a first step, then narrowing it down to several possible camp spots after you’ve found a good printed map (a hard copy, non digital, non electricity, the old fashioned kind).

California Rivers are popular destinations for the outdoor vacationer. The most desirable streams or creeks in California flow into a reservoir, not out of. The wilder scenery above the lake, deeper up the canyons are the secluded places we seek. Some accessed only by dirt back roads. 4×4 camps are commonly positioned near creeks.  Wilderness trail heads can lead to even more privacy if you are willing to huff it.

SELECTING A MAP

Full color, waterproof maps show every creek, stream, river, paved road, dirt road

Topographic maps show more detail on terrain, elevation, trails, roads; Less colorful.

READING THE MAP

look for the tiny blue lines, the bolder the better

– is your choice a main blue line?
– does this one creek feed into another larger stream?
– is it a creek that will be flowing strong?
– how far from a paved road is it?

How to find a streamside camp

Forest Service Back Roads are usually one lane dirt roads and have strange long numbers attached to them. Maybe signed, but don’t count on it. In the illustration: Look Road #22S59 is right along a creek, and maybe 22S08 has some water sources, but has a developed campground w/ possible fee. 22S59 is very likely to have some dispersed sites along it. You always have options open when you have a good map; make your back up choices when planning your destination. Have a few plan B roads chosen, just in case your first choice is too steep of a slope, or packed with RV families, or totally muddy and impassable with your vehicle.

 

Creekside Camping in California

MIneral KIng Walkin Camps

4WD needed?

Spring snow melt is when the dirt roads are still closed (gated) and often quiet muddy. Some primitive camp sites may be best access with a 4-wheel drive, but each river or creek side camp spot is unique at different times of the year, due to the snow depth and land erosion process. For easy-going exploring purposes, small all-wheel-drive vehicles work well too, but clearance can be a limiting factor. You wouldn’t believe what passenger cars we see on the back roads of Baja. Almost anything goes anywhere, slowly, as long as it runs and rolls.

last tip – mosquito, where?

Screen room tents may appear unsightly, but those hungry, annoying mosquitoes don’t really care what flavor you are. Them lil suckers are abundant in areas with water, standing or still water, meadows, creek beds, especially active in the warmer summer months. Beat ’em before they hatch – camp in the springtime. By autumn their numbers seem to dwindle with the night time chilly temps, but make sure to come prepared for those colder nights.

4S12 – Inyo NF

rockcreekroad

Rock Creek Road

Rock Creek Lake, Eastern Sierra, California

Inyo Forest Road #4S12
also known as Inyo Road 12, and also Rock Creek Rd.

Majestic mountain scenery. Popular paved route that leads from US 395 up to Rock Creek Lake, on the edge of granite wild lands; lake is situated above 9000′ elevation and the hiker trailheads are further up, beyond the lake at over 10,000 feet. Steep canyon, large canyon, rocky granite canyon, high elevation.

Super scenic drive, but open less than half the year, due to deep snow. Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. Inyo National Forest

North of Bishop, CA
South of Mammoth, CA
SW of US Highway 395

hikes horse camp bike

backpacking
camping
fishing
hiking
horseback
trailheads
wilderness

A popular and favorite place for summer camping, fishing and hiking. Backpacking, horse trails, high elevation lakes, mountain passes, peaks, wilderness areas. RV campgrounds, tent camping, car camping. Mountain biking in vast canyon, near campgrounds and creek. No bikes in the Wilderness (up and above Rock Creek)

Autumn colors, aspen groves usually best in early October. Snow closure in winter months (Nov-May).

snowyautumn

elevation 7072′ @ Tom’s Place, CA (US Hwy 395)
elevation 9682′ @ Rock Creek Lake
elevation 10,272′ @ Trailhead Parking (end of road)

UP, UP, HIGHER & AROUND LAKE
One lane, paved route gets narrow, but keeps on climbing. Road #6S05 continues up – past Rock Creek Lake and ends at hiking trailheads, paved parking lot and a few picnic spots.

iris meadow
Iris Meadow Campground NFS

12 NFS Campgrounds in this region, starting with one at the highway, several along the way and the campgrounds at Rock Creek Lake.

No campfires are allowed in this canyon – outside of a developed campground. Not much in the way of primitive car camping options either, except for strapping on a backpack and heading into high elevation wilderness.

rockcreeklake

Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Campgrounds

Inyo National Forest
John Muir Wilderness

Trailheads along Rock Creek Road #4S12

  • Upper Hilton Lakes
  • Tamarack
  • Lakes Valley (Little Lakes)
  • JMT – John Muir Trail

Rock Creek NFS Hiking Trailheads (download PDF)

Eastern Sierra Maps:
Inyo National Forest Map USDA
John Muir Wilderness Maps
Mammoth Lakes Map by NatGeo
Mono Divide High Country Map

 

rock creek lake
Rock Creek Lake, first snowfall (Autumn)


looking for another place called ROCK CREEK in California? (we are working on that)

Walker Lake

mountgibbs
Mt Gibbs, elev. 12,764′

A few different Walker Lakes around California.

Walker Lake, California

Walker Lake @ US Hwy 395, Eastern Sierra
June Lake Loop – Hwy 158
June Lake, CA

Inyo National Forest (Lee Vining to Grant Lake)
Inyo Forest Road #1N17 access to side canyon route, Inyo Forest Road #1S23

small, scenic, hike-in only lake (pictured below).
1.2 mile hike downhill – strenuous, very steep; 800′ elevation loss. Bloody Canyon trailhead also connect to Sardine Lake, above Walker Lake.

hikeinlake

There is also another Walker Lake in Mendocino County California. Walker Creek, Ridgewood Park; west of US Hwy 101, south of Willits, CA

walkerpeak
Mount Grant, Nevada

Walker Lake, Nevada

very windy, Walker Lake, Nevada
US Highway 95, north of Hawthorne, NV
Mount Grant elev. 11,239′

Walker Lake State Recreation Area, now known as Monument Beach, is located along the western shore of the lake. The Hawthorne Army Depot, the world’s largest ammunition depot, fills the valley to the south of the lake. Naval Undersea Warfare Center?

Route 95 passes along western shore of Walker Lake. Walker River from the Eastern Sierra mountains in California, may sometimes flow into Walker Lake, Nevada.

Upstream water users have exploited the Walker River for profit, resulting in the destruction of Walker Lake, NV. According to the USGS, the level dropped approximately 181′ between 1882 and 2016. By June 2016 (under drought conditions) the lake level was 3,909′ above sea level, the lowest lake elevation since measurement began in 1882.

Better camping option, north @ Fort Churchill, NV