Tag Archives: lake

Eastern Sierra Lakes

Camping Lakes – Campground Lakes
Lake Eastern Sierra California

There is not enough room on this web site to list every single alpine lake in the majestic Eastern Sierra range, since there are hundreds, but we highlight a few of the hike-in accessible ones & the more popular camping lakes below.

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June Lake Loop is a paved, scenic drive highway that has multiple lakes with cabin rentals, camping, fishing, boat rentals. One of the best places to spend autumn looking for fall colors among the aspens.

DanaMite also knows a picture is worth 1000 words, so just click links for photos & enjoy!!!

convict lake Eastern SierraLone Pine Lakes include –

  • Diaz Lake (on US Hwy 395)
  • Cottonwood Lakes camping (hike in)
  • Lone Pine Lake (hike in)

Onion Valley camping
@ Independence, CA
Kearsarge Lakes include –

(all are hike-in lakes)

 

mountains

Bishop Lakes include – (Hwy 168)

ROCK CREEK CANYON
US 395

Paved road dead ends at over 9000′ elevation
Wilderness Access w/ Trailheads & Parking
NFS Campgrounds
Remote Cabin Resorts

hiker

LAKE CROWLEY CA

CONVICT LAKE CA

Mammoth Lakes include – (Hwy 203)

Walker Lake @ June Lake Loop
Walker Lake @ June Lake CA

June Lake Loop includes – (Hwy 158)

MONO LAKE CA

US 395 @ LEE VINING, CA
Yosemite NP [EAST ENTRANCE]
Tioga Pass Lakes include –
(Hwy 120)

califrepublic

LUNDY LAKE CA

Bridgeport, CA

NatGeo Mammoth MapEastern Sierra topographic trail maps to lakes

Mono Maloy

Big Bear Renaissance Faire

Big Bear Ren Faire

Big Bear Lake’s Renaissance Faire

Three weekends of fun, music and merriment. An authentic re-creation of an English Summer Faire. Visit an exciting, vibrant village where you can experience a joust, strolling entertainers, stage performances, beautiful handcrafts, delicious food and drink, children’s area and the spirit of the days of William Shakespeare and the Renaissance.

Meadow Park
41276 Park Ave.
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315

Annual event; August
909-237-0448

BIG BEAR, CA

bigbearrenfaire.org

Atascadero Fourth of July

Atascadero Fourth of July Music Festival returns

Atascadero Fourth of July Music Festival

Celebrate Freedom and Independence Day lakeside under giant shady oaks with three great musical acts on an afternoon of music, food & drinks! General Admission is free to the music festival. If you want to be closer to the music there is a reserved VIP area and VIP Plus to get into the front row. ?Don’t forget to bring your low back chair or blanket.

July 4th @ 4 to 8 pm

Atascadero Lake Park

Annual event: July
One day event,  always held on Fourth of July

Atascadero, CA

atascadero4thofjuly.org

Death Ride

monitorpass89

3 Sierra Passes: DeathRide Bike Race

A summer tour of the California Alps in a High Sierra 129 mile long cycling course. This is one of the premier cycling events – held for more than 30 years!

Climb 15,000+ feet in elevation. Monitor Pass (8314′); Ebbett’s Pass (8730′); Carson Pass (8573′)

Annual event; July

MARKLEEVILLE CA

deathride.com

markleeville

Markleeville CA & Monitor Pass (Hwy 89) are south of Lake Tahoe, connecting US Highway 395 to the upper alpine heights of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Car camping spots and backpacking in this region are located near the aspen groves, lakes, creeks or pine forest.

Summer is prime tourists season here; Grover Hot Springs State Park is nearby, so is a bunch of lakes & creeks inside the Toiyabe National Forest / Carson District.

hwy89easternsierra

rest stop in the valley at Monitor Pass

Lake Kaweah

wildflowers

Sequoia Foothills Reservoir, CA SR 198
Kaweah Lake

Southern Sierra lake located on Kaweah River, near the mouth of Mineral King Canyon. In between the western Sierra foothills and the agricultural San Joaquin Valley. West of Sequoia NP, east of Visalia, California.

Crystal Cave
Mineral King
Sequoia National Park
Three Rivers
Visalia

The small town of Three Rivers is just up the road from this small reservoir & their slogan is the ‘southern gateway’ to the Sequoia National Park.

There are several recreational reservoirs that are situated at the base of the Sierras, along the western slopes. The Kaweah River transports snowmelt deep from the Sierra Nevada mountains, down to the San Joaquin Valley (Central Valley), for human consumption, households, and agriculture.

Lake Kaweah California

elevation: 1945′
surface area: 1200′
vegetation: minimal trees, scrub oak, wildflower foothills

fishing –

  • bass
  • bluegill
  • catfish
  • crappie
  • trout

recreation –

  • backpack
  • bike
  • boat
  • camp
  • canoe
  • hike
  • houseboat
  • kayak
  • sail
  • swim
  • waterski

Horse Creek Recreation Area
Horse Creek Campground
76 camp sites

Kaweah Rentals

Kaweah Marina has patio boats, fishing boats, and paddle boards available for rent. Reservations are needed in summer for weekends and holidays. 559-597-2526

Kaweah Houseboats

Privately owned house-boats can be seen on this lake, although none are available at the marina for rent. Some can usually be found for sale on visalia.craigslist.org

Weather: Lake Kaweah Dam

US Army Corps of Engineers
PO Box 44270
34443 Sierra Drive
Lemon Cove, CA 93244
559-597-2301

Gateway

Sequoia Highway 198 has many side routes worth exploring: Mineral King Road will get you to amazing scenery, but there ARE NOT ANY Sequoia groves up that way; Crystal Cave, open for tours is located near the south entrance of the National Park; and a lesser known campground in this area is called South Fork, off on a residential side route canyon – South Fork Drive (Road #348); Located on the quiet South Fork of the Kaweah River.

Sequoia Maps:

North Fork Drive: North Fork of the Kaweah River is a seldom traveled dirt back road that leads from the east side of the lake @ Hwy 198, northbound (along the North Fork of Kaweah River), straight into the backdoor of Sequoia National Park’s ridge line highway @ Dorst Campground. The original town of Kaweah (elev 960′) is along this route. Many small dirt roads to explore up this way and a good topo map is advised.

 

Eshom Campground (on western border of Sequoia NP), a small slice of Giant Sequoia National Monument land, Redwood Creek and a trailhead called Redwood Saddle are all back up in here.

Independence Day Celebrations

July 4th in California

Beach Camping
Crowds are common at beaches all summer long.

go somewhere cool this summer

camping lakes

drifters

July 4th marks the busiest summer week in California. It’s mid Summer for most school kids. The golden state has its biggest increase of visiting tourists during this month too, along with the local residents traveling on seasonal road trips. Plenty of traffic, be warned.

Camping July 4th means EVERYBODY and their GRANDMOTHER will be outside this weekend. The majority of big family camp-outs and social BBQ events take place — on this very summer holiday weekend. Backpackers and serious car campers are on the road well ahead of time – headed for wilderness destinations.

Stay away from the biggest campgrounds and tourist traps, unless you are into that. Head for the back country for optimal seclusion, flowing creeks and coolest lakes.

 

 

City Fireworks & Parade Events can be found on various city web sites or chamber of commerce sites, which you can easily access through Total Escape.

California July 4

Fourth of July is also known as Independence Day, with celebrations in almost every major city & some notable small towns. City parades, firework displays, live music, streets fairs, BBQs, crafts, beach bon fires & in certain beach towns, total utter chaos. Below is only a sampling of popular July 4th events within California. Firework shows are so common that we are not listing most of them.

Street Fairs, Rodeos & Festivals on July 4th –

Music Festivals on July 4th –

califrepublic

Independence Parades –

Silver Lake California

Silver Lakes @ Bucks
Silver Lake, near Bucks Lake Wilderness

Numerous Silver Lakes, Creeks and other “silver” terrain can be found inside California. After the Gold Rush of 1849 in the western Sierra, Silver was discovered in Nevada shortly after (east of Sierra Nevada mountains). This page is an overview on all places with SILVER in the name, or places that have had a history of silver mining. California Counties are listed in parenthesis. Links below will lead to more detailed pages or campground reservations.

Silver Lake @ Lassen

(Lassen Co)

silver kayaker

Silver Lake @ Bucks

(Plumas Co)

silver88

Silver Lake @ Carson

(Alpine Co)

Silver Fork of the American River. Silver Fork Road connects US Highway 50 & Carson Pass Hwy 88. Silver Fork Campground & China Flat Campground (NFS) are both located on this remote, backcountry route, about 8 miles from US Hwy 50 campground

golden glow june

Silver Lake @ June

(Mono Co)

Autumn aspen groves ignite with color in October. Often, some of the best fall colors in the Eastern Sierra. Day trips w/ fishing. Hiking everywhere. Overnighters or backpackers could be greeted with snow at anytime in October or later. The June Lake Loop (SR 158) closes for snow annually!

California Lakes named Silver

Silver Lake @ Gold Lake

(Plumas Co)

Lakes Basin Recreation Area also has a hike-in Silver Lake, trailhead near Gold Lake on Gold Lake Highway

Silver Lake @ Gold

califrepublic

below are silver mining camps and other silver related destinations, plus some campgrounds

 

Bodie SHP (State Park) calsp
(Mono Co)
8375′ elev. US Hwy 395 near Bridgeport, CA. Infamous, high desert ghost town, now a California Historic State Park. Large gold mining camp w/ well-preserved, wooden, old town structures. Silver was discovered in nearby Aurora Canyon.  All dirt road access. No developed campground @ Bodie, so try nearby Green Creek Road instead. Or high desert, back road camping on Aurora Canyon Road over to Bridgeport Reservoir.

Cerro Gordo
(Inyo Co)
8500′ elev. Inyo mountains, West of Death Valley, east of US Hwy 395 @ Junction 136. Old mining camp rich in silver history. Someone might even live up there. Extreme remote location in rugged, high desert mountains. 4×4 is always required!

Silver City Sequoia NPS
(Tulare Co)
6935′ elev. cabin resort on Mineral King Road, in the South Sequoia National Park

Silver Creek Campground NFS campground
(Alpine Co)
Developed Campground south of Markleeville, Highway 4, Ebbett’s Pass, Central Sierra Nevada

Silver Creek Campground campground
(Placer Co)
Camp right on the Truckee River, and on busy Hwy 89. in between Truckee & Lake Tahoe, California

Silver Valley Campground & Silver Tip Campground (Alpine Co) are both located near Lake Alpine on Highway 4 Ebbetts Pass , Central Sierra

jacksonmdwsign

Silvertip is also a Group Camp at Jackson Meadow Reservoir (Sierra Co) off Hwy 89, North of Truckee, CA. Silvertip Group Campground, as with all group camping facilities, is by reservation only.

Silver Lake @ LA
(Los Angeles Co) a hip and popular, tree-lined neighborhood in Los Angeles, near Griffith Park.

Silver Lake
(San Bernardino Co)
Silver Dry Lake, a dry lakebed in the Mojave desert, near the Hollow Hills Wilderness, north of Baker, CA off I-15

Silver Lakes
(San Bernardino Co)
2430′ elev. a desert community southwest of Barstow, near Helendale, CA. Located on the Mojave River (which flows underground) in between Historic Route 66 & US Hwy 395. Attraction nearby – Exotic World, the Burlesque Hall of Fame.

 

silverstrand

Silver Strand State Beach State Park

(San Diego Co)
A sliver of sand makes up this narrow beach, barrier island for San Diego Bay. RV Camping, best in SD. South San Diego, Coronado Island campground

silverwood

Silverwood Lake SRA State Park

(San Bernardino Co)
State Recreation Area @ Cajon Pass I-15
in the San Berdu National Forest

 

lacontedivide

High Sierra, California

hike-in only

backpacking

Silver Pass Lake
Silver Divide & Silver Pass
(Fresno Co)
11,000′ elev

Located in between two 12,000′ peaks
near PCT – Pacific Crest Trail
John Muir Wilderness

backpacking

Silver Lake
(Tulare Co)
11,000′ elev

via Mineral King trailheads
Golden Trout Wilderness
South of Sequoia NP
Southern Sierra Nevada

Another Hike


Lake Davis California

lakedavis

As the massive wildfire bears down on yet another prime vacation destination in Northern California, I feel the need to update this old lake page, so you can see what areas are being affected.
(Dixie Fire of 2021)

Lake Davis @ Plumas National Forest
elevation 5886′

Three paved roads access Lake Davis which is located north of Highway 70. Residential areas exist on the south side of the lake, which is 7 miles north of Portola, CA

Grizzly Ridge (elev 7000′) is located on the westside of Lake Davis, East of Quincy, CA

Beckwourth Taylorsville Road #112 (a dirt road) follows Little Grizzly Creek down from Genesee, and flows into this rural reservoir. Grizzly Valley Dam, also known as the Grizzly Creek Dam, reinforced the lake when it was built in 1967.

View East from Davis
Crocker Mountain @ Lake Davis, California

Quiet Lake Davis

Lake Davis Recreation Area offers a wide variety of outdoor experiences for summer including: camping , picnicking,  fishing, hunting, boating, mountain biking, swimming, and wildlife viewing. Waterskiing and jet skis are not permitted.  In the winter, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing are popular activities.

canoe

Frequent strong winds can cause the lake to become very hazardous for small craft. Boat Ramps at Camp Five, Honker Cove, Lightning Tree and Mallard Cove.  Launching facilities have loading docks, paved ramps, parking and restrooms, and they all charge a fee.

Relatively uncrowded lake in the Northern Sierra, this location is often overlooked by travelers for more the popular, larger lakes. Locals use this location for outdoor recreation.
Plumas National Forestfish

  • bird watching

  • boating

  • camping

  • cycling

  • fishing

  • forests

  • hiking

  • horseback

  • kayaking

  • meadows

  • mountain biking

  • stargazing

  • wildflowers

  • wildlife viewing

davis_sign

davis_dirtroads

The developed campgrounds are located on the southern end of the lake. The backside of the lake is mostly made of up creeks, meadows, forests, dirt roads, wildflowers and abundant wild life.

recent wildfires:
Dixie Fire 2021
Beckwourth Complex 2021
Walker Fire 2019

camp

NFS Campgrounds near Lake Davis, California

Closed due to DixieFire 2021

genesee19mi
Half way between Genesee and Portola, CA

camptruck

fishingsign
Fishing Access Road
Lake Davis Trails
Lake Davis Trails

horseback

NEARBY TOWNS:

Portola, CA
Quincy, CA
Taylorsville, CA

meadowarea
Little Grizzly Creek

Blue Lakes California

Blue Lakes
Hwy 88 @ Carson Pass
South of Tahoe

Blue Lake California
ADA Camping (Americans with Disabilities) Handicap accessible camp sites at Blue Lakes, near Hope Valley, CA

Blue Lake Campgrounds

highest lake campgrounds in the vicinity

Eldorado National Forest in Amador Ranger District; a forest south of Lake Tahoe in the central portion of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This set of scenic, alpine lakes sits in between both Eldorado, Toiyabe National Forests and the Mokelumne Wilderness. But please take note that the Blue Lake facilities are owned and operated by utility company PG&E

No Reservations.
most camp sites are available first-come, first-serve

RV limitations: 30 feet

69 miles east of Jackson, CA on Highway 88 and then another 12 miles south on Blue Lakes Road. This area is close to Hope Valley, south of Lake Tahoe, CA

Blue Lakes consist of several developed campgrounds. Blue Lakes Rd# 13 is a well signed, paved road off Hwy 88, just east of Carson Pass (8560′ elev). The route is closed during winter snow, while it serves as a winter recreation area. The main paved road becomes dirt near the campgrounds. A dirt road continues past the lakes and south to Deer Creek and meets w/ Hwy 4 near Ebbett’s Pass.

RVblue lakes eldorado

RV campers, fishing folks, hikers, kayakers and disabled travelers like this lake camp area due to the easy access, paved parking and campground amenities. Handicapped camp sites are also prime lake front locations.

Group Campgrounds are reservable. Picnic Areas, Group Sites and campfire rings. Piped water, bear boxes and vault toilets. No RV hookups, no dump station, no showers. Unimproved boat ramps are available at Upper and Lower Blue Lakes.

Lower Blue Lake Campground
elev. 8055′
camp sites: 16

Blue Lake Dam
camp sites: 25

Middle Creek Campground
camp sites: 5

Upper Blue Lake Campground
elev. 8136′
camp sites: 32

Overflow Camp
camp sites: 34

hikesBackpackers and day hikers: Sierra trailheads out here lead south into the Mokelumne Wilderness Area. The infamous Pacific Crest Trail also passes thru this high elevation region: PCT access @ Carson Pass, Upper Lake & Tamarack Lake

recreation –PCT

  • backpacking
  • boating (non-motorized)
  • camping
  • fishing
  • hiking
  • horseback
  • kayaking

local topographic maps:

nearby townsLower Blue Lake

 

Tahoe Back Roads

driftwood

another blue lake?

Yep, there is more than one Blue Lake in California

Blue Lake Modoc
Blue Lake Modoc NF

Modoc Blue Lake

BLUE LAKE CAMPGROUND
NorCal region of the South Warner Wilderness in Modoc National Forest. That’s way out near Alturas. Likely, CA is the turn off US 395. Northeast California, real seclusion.

EASTBOUND Paved Road #64 is Jess Valley, which leads along the Pit River, cool volcanic cliffs, and up to forested Blue Lake Campground, elevation 6051′

Wild Blue Lake
Wildlife viewing @ Blue Lake Modoc

hiker

Donner Blue Lake

DONNER PASS – Sierra Nevada
Interstate 80

BLUE LAKE CAMPGROUND
i80 Donner Pass, near Truckee, CA; a PGE Campground w/ 4×4 access and hike-in only. First come, first serve. No tables or restrooms, elevation 5900′

fish

camp

Lake County – Blue Lakes

THE LODGE AT BLUE LAKES
Mendocino Lake Country

Highway 20, East of US101

Lake side resort w/ boat rentals and fishing, near Upper Lake, CA
elevation 1357′

A small resort w/ hotel suites and a lakeside setting w/ abundant nature. Two small lakes, kinda close to the highway. Non motorized boats only, kayaks, paddle boards, canoe, swimming, birdwatching, bike paths and fishing.  Wedding venue next to lake. Wineries, restaurants, and a casino nearby.

canoe

Humboldt County: Blue Lake, CA

Blue Lake, California  95525
Historic lumber town, located East of Arcata along the Mad River. Accessible via Highway 299

foggytown
Coastal fog is common in this neck of the woods.

pinetree

Yellow Post Campsites

yellowpost

 

Yellow Post Camping

Yellow Stake Camp Sites / Back Roads Camping NFS
near Cajon Pass, Big Bear & Idyllwild CA

YELLOW POST CAMPS are dispersed camping sites on the back roads in Southern California, where fire danger is greatest. Forest authorities have designated certain spots as ‘fire safe’ for remote, open camping options around Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin and the Idyllwild mountain area.

If you prefer to stay out of the developed campgrounds, you will be the minority. But you must know how to read a map well to reach these beauties.

Map Big Bear

camping

SoCal camping doesn’t have to mean crowded campgrounds. Seek your seclusion on the dirt back roads, where there are no fees, minimal noises & a private site waiting just for you. These are usually on a first come, first serve basis. A high clearance vehicle (SUV, truck or 4×4) may be needed to reach some of the premium camp spots, but there are also sites accessible by passenger cars. And, of course, a fire permit is required.

HeartBar14

In the San Bernardino National Forest there are several back woods ‘fire safe’ camping spots, that are noted with a single yellow post & some may require reservations in busy summer months. You can find out more on reserving from the Big Bear Discovery Center, 909-382-2790

campfires bannedExtra caution should be used when winds are high, camp fires are often banned due to wildfire danger. Check with local rangers for up to date conditions and always get your campfire permit.

No restrooms, no water, no facilities. Just a dirt road, a fire ring & a single picnic table. Hopefully your table will not be shot up, by the local rednecks who ‘get off’ doing stupid stuff like this. Pick up any litter & leave the place better than your found it.

Yellow Post Camps

These backroad camps are perfect for the 4×4 group, stressed out social club, church group w/ rugged van, or the city SUVer who wants to get away from the crowds. The most sought after camp spots are nearest to the lake or a site accessible by RVs and horse trailers, but there are many more excellent camp sites to be discovered. USDA Forest Service Map is highly advised to reach these remote, dirt road camp areas. Rugged, steep, one lane dirt roads that lead to some of these spots. A passenger car is sometimes not suitable for all dirt roads. Rutted and steep means turn around. Wet weather changes dirt roads. Often routes close for winter w/ locked gates.

Big Bear Back Roads Camping

download PDF maps
on Big Bear Yellow Post Sites

Campsite7

Big Lots

Cajon Pass Camping near I-15

Idyllwild Dispersed Camping

thomas camp
Topo maps, Wilderness hiking maps, Equestrian trails, OHV maps –

Silver Lake @ Bucks

Silver Lake from Above

Silver Lake @ Bucks Lake Wilderness

(Plumas Co)

Plumas Road #24N29, off Bucks Lake Road
East of Bucks Lake, California.
a six mile, one lane, dirt road is the only vehicle access into this high elevation, dammed reservoir, tucked back against the wilderness. Secluded lake campsites await, you’ll just need to get a little dusty first. The turn off, at a small brown sign reading “Silver Lake”, one which is very easy to miss – due to the amount of homes, cabins, fencing and driveways in the vicinity.

bucks trailhead

Bucks Lake Wilderness
Plumas National Forest

All Bucks Lake Campgrounds

Kayaker @ Silver Lake

hiker

No swimming allowed at this Silver Lake, as it serves as a drinking water source for the neighborhoods below. Canoe & kayaking are allowed. Fishing is also popular at this location. Hiking trailheads at Silver Lake lead to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), Mount Pleasant, Spanish Peak and a small gem of a swimming hole, we call mini Gold Lake.

Bucks Lake Wilderness Map

NFS Campground @ Silver Lake, near Quincy, CA

This small campground is actually set downhill from the rock earthen dam, which is something to ponder before/during a big earthquake. With sites 1-5 in a shady forest area and the others a bit closer to the lake, no campsite is too close to another. These are all well-spaced-out sites, providing decent privacy and minimal noise from neighboring campers. No campsites are located at the lake edge, as the rocky dam is a long structure and quite complex with water control measures.

All the campsites have new bear boxes for food storage, cuz ‘wilderness’ usually means black bears are roaming about. Deer tend to frequent campsites 1 & 2.

2020 update:
overnight camping fees now charged at this campground

silver camp 5

Silver Lake Campground NFS

campground

• Elevation: 5800′
• Number of Sites: 9
• Vehicle Accessibility: RV 22′
• Campsite Reservations: No
• Camp Fee: Yes
• Toilet: Vault
• Water: No piped/potable
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: May – October
• Trailheads: PCT, Gold Lake, Rock Lake, Granite Gap, Bucks Lake Wilderness

silverbackdrop

As with most of the high elevation lakes in California, winter months can mean deep snow and dirt road closures. This campground is usually open through the end of October, but call head to the local rangers if in doubt.

Plumas National Forest
Mt. Hough Ranger District
39696 State Highway 70
Quincy, CA 95971
530-283-0555

ranger

See all Silver Lakes in California

Ellery Lake Campground

Ellery Lake Campground

Inyo National Forest @ Yosemite East
Tioga Pass Hwy 120

ellerylake

This spectacular setting has a top-of-the-world feeling to it. Gorgeous meadow area, right along the main highway, with a small lake next to giant rock slides and impressive granite mountains.snow

The air is thin, the sky is clearest blue, the snow is melting, the stream is trickling and the nights are chilly – even in summer. Bring a winter coat and extra blankets, if you plan to camp.

ellerysign

Ellery is small campground is located just outside the EAST GATE of Yosemite National Park, along Highway 120 Tioga Pass. Easily accessible and fully paved, this camp is only open half the year due to deep snowpack. The snow usually melts by June, and camp often closes early due to higher elevation weather, sometime in October or November.

Lee Vining Canyon is to the east and Mount Dana is to the west.

RVokay

Ellery Lake is one of those magical places, where you can spend all day out in nature – without needing to drive anywhere. Gorgeous high country scenery surrounds you in every direction. Walk over to nearby meadows, creeks or neighboring lakes. Climb mountain peaks or enjoy extended day hikes. Watch wildlife from camp or fish in the lake. Stargaze at night w/ the darkest skies around.

Or how about, walk to dinner? This place is easy walking distance to the historic Tioga Pass Resort, where you can enjoy a real, sit-down meal at the cafe. (Hope they will re-open 2020)

stars

Ellery Lake – camp, hike, fish or kayak.
No motor boats allowed.

Travelers heading to or from the National Park,  often stop at Ellery to take photos and walk around. There is always a flurry of activity around easily accessible lakes and this one is no different. The busy highway and constant traffic may be heard from camp, but the ideal location and epic lake makes up for the inconvenience.

elleryview

This NFS campground is one of many small camps located along the highway, on the east side of Yosemite National Park. This special place is in high demand, can fill up fast and is quite busy most of the summer.

perfect for tent camperscamp

Small parking areas, tight walkways,  landscape and minimal campsites makes this a “no-turn-around” kinda campground, so don’t bring that huge RV (cuz it won’t fit).

Most sites do not have enough room to park a second vehicle at all. Each campsite has a locker for food storage. (bear country = store food properly)

Ellery Lake Campground

• Elevation: 9,538′
• Number of Sites: 12
• Camping Reservations: No
• Sites Available: First come, First serve
• Vehicle Accessibility: Vehicle limit 28 ft.
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Water: Potable water
• Toilet: Vault
• Season: Closed during winter & spring
• Fee: Yes
• Operated By: National Forest Service
• Closest Town: Lee Vining, CA

elev9538

see also nearby – Junction Campground

fish

Inyo National Forest
Mono Lake Ranger District

Bishop Ranger Station
760-873-2400

Mono Basin National Forest
Scenic Area Visitor Center

760-647-3044 NFSlogo

USDA campground link

7N01 – Stanislaus NF

Spicer Meadow Reservoir & more lakes: Paved Forest Rd #7N01

Spicer, Utica & Union Reservoirs, Central Sierra, Stanislaus National Forest

summit lake

Stanislaus National Forest
North Fork of the Stanislaus River
Highland Creek
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Area
Spicer Meadow Reservoir (6418′ elev)
Union Reservoir (6850′ elev)
Utica Reservoir

Spicer Meadow Reservoir can also be found on various publications, listed as Spicer Meadows, Spicer Mdws, Spicer Lake and Spicer Reservoir.

tent camping

Ebbett’s Pass is California State Route (SR 4) Highway 4, which cuts thru the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains (east-west). Wilderness peaks and rivers surround this whole region. Deep snow pack is common, so much of this region is off-limits half the year (or more). Always check with local rangers by phone before venturing out, as winter conditions can keep these roads closed late into the year.

Topo Maps of this Region:

Stanislaus National Forest Map USDA
Carson Iceberg Wilderness Map USDA
Carson, Emigrant, Mokelumne Map NatGeo
Sierra Nevada Topo Map

Wilderness Maps

N of Arnold, California; Continue up SR 4. Passing Calaveras Big Trees State Park & Camp Connell; After Big Meadow Campground, take the paved right turn for Spicer Meadow; This is forest road 7N01. Meandering thru a forest and descending in elevation, road will dead end at Spicer Reservoir.

7N01, the main paved mountain road, is located on the south side of the highway. The highway turn off reads ‘Spicer Reservoir’. Suitable for travel w/ RVs and trucks with boat trailers. Quite curvy, scenic and about 7 miles long. There are developed campgrounds in the vicinity.

The dirt side roads off the pavement can be narrow, muddy, rocky and overgrown, so be cautious when exploring. Choosing a dispersed camp site should be done during daylight hours, and will require a campfire permit ahead of time. Use an existing camp site whenever possible, instead of creating new ones.

freespice

Several man-made reservoirs attract outdoor seekers, mountain bikers, campers, canoes and fishermen. Kayakers tend to love Union and Utica, but power boats and sail boats prefer Spicer Lake.

hiker

Volcanic features mix with Sierra granite in this part of the forest, and geologic formations make for interesting hikes. Mountain biking is common around these lakes, as well as day hiking and backpacking.

Spicer Lake

NFSlogo

NFS Campgrounds in the region:

  • Stanislaus River Campground
  • Spicer Campground
  • Spicer Group Camp

Campgrounds only open June-September. Some campsites at the campground are wheelchair accessible. Boat ramp located near campgrounds.

camp

outdoor recreation:
backpacking
boating
bouldering
camping
canoeing
fishing
floating
granite
hiking
kayaking
mountain biking
lakes
sailing
swimming
trails
wildflowers

wildflower

Left fork turn off, Dirt Road #7N05 leads out to Utica & Union Reservoirs. Granite rock, alpines lakes w/ forests surrounding. No motorized boats allowed on those two lakes. Very popular among the stand up paddlers (SUP), all kayaks and canoes.

canoeNo developed campgrounds back that way either. No flush toilets, nor paved roads. No flat RV spots; only primitive style camping. These 2 scenic lakes get crowded during summer weekends, so opt for a mid-week stay if possible.

Another dirt road treks steeply up the hill from Union Reservoir to Lake Alpine (at the highway). That primitive truck trail is actually a (somewhat designated, but not well-signed) 4×4 route and suitable for high clearance vehicles only.

car camping lakes

Spur Road #7N29Y is another small dirt road which leads a couple miles into the forest, over to overgrown trailheads and primitive camping options. Ideal for accessing all the lakes (on foot) from this prime location. A camp fire permit is required. No water, no bathrooms, no facilities, no garbage services.

Pack it in, pack it out.

  • Elephant Rock Lake
  • Summit Lake (7068′ elev)

elephant rock

Closest small towns are:

ARNOLD
BEAR VALLEY
LAKE ALPINE, CA

lake camps

7N01 – Los Padres NF
There is another USFS Road in California named 7N01, but that one is a 4×4 OHV access route @ Dutchman Campground, located in South Central California; the southern part of Los Padres National Forest. We have mention of it on the page for Frazier Park Camping.

4x4

11S12 – Sierra NF

engineering_x

Black Rock Road #11S12
– Sierra National Forest

North Fork of the Kings River, Blackrock Rd

connects Kings River @ Pine Flat to Blackrock Reservoir.
Road closed seasonally for winter; call ahead.

This impressive Sierra Nevada route literally climbs a granite cliff high above the Kings River, near Pine Flat Lake north of Sequoia Parks, inside Sierra NF. This granite gorge is due east of farm city Fresno at the edge of Kings Canyon National Park.

If you are a nervous, inexperienced driver and scared of heights – be forewarned: this is not the road for you. The views are amazing, but the terrain can be unforgiving, even deadly.

Paved, narrow, one lane, giant rock overhangs, no guard rails (except on the bridge) the route skirts the North Fork of the Kings, coming down from Wishon Reservoir.

Blackrock Road

Click image above to enlarge and see the tiny Kings River far below the road.

 

Black Rock Lake

Blackrock Reservoir, located up the road – has a PG&E campground in a secluded canyon, with lake fishing and hiking, so it is well worth trouble to take this crazy road. Granite rock canyon, steep mountains, minimal roads.  Seclusion can be found, up this way.

Utmost safety should be taken on this road due to the extreme terrain. When driving one lane roads always keep an eye out for possible turn-outs and oncoming traffic. Forest and lake personnel have living quarters at the base of this road @ BALCH CAMP, so keep driving when passing thru. Follow signs to Blackrock.

breaktime

Above Blackrock Reservoir, further up the canyon, the road becomes DIRT when the pavement stops; this continues to Sawmill Flat Campground and eventually on to Dinkey Creek Road. This whole upper (dirt road) portion is gated for winter and closed during the wetter months. Call ahead to the ranger station at Trimmer to find out if this road is open.

Sierra National Forest
Trimmer Ranger Station
559-855-8321

Sierra Kings River Camping

Sierra National Forest Map USFS
northkings
North fork of Kings River
gorgeview
Road #11S12, gorge view

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

Wishon Reservoir

Lake Wishon – Sierra NF

Western Sierra Nevada Lake
Central Sierra California

lake wishon

East of Fresno, CA
East of Shaver Lake

EB from Fresno, Hwy 168 up to Shaver, w/ another 30+ miles on paved backroads
(Dinkey Creek Rd & then McKinley Grove Rd)
Way, way back, beyond Dinkey

You gotta really wanna BE at places like this. Magical High Sierra mountains – California’s finest. Sheer beauty surrounds this lake w/ granite domes, granite cliffs, granite trails, forests, peaks and plenty hiking, fishing, water and boating. It does take planning (way ahead) to make it out here, cuz the area is only accessible during summer months. Typical of high altitude lakes, snow buries them annually and the roads get closed off to the public (usually NOV-MAY is winter). Some backcountry routes become snowmobiling trails during winter, and the Sierra National Forest has plenty of great snomo action (if snow is deep).

Wishon Lake, California
elevation: 6600′

High Sierra Granite Reservoir with pines trees and rocky, granite shoreline. Not nearly as amazing as its cousin w/ the domes to the north, Courtright, Wishon has less granite & less wind, but more accessible backroads to explore, plus more car camping options. Both lakes are part of the Helms Creek hydro-electric project (dams) that make up the PG&E water infrastructure out in these parts – The Kings River Drainage System.

Backpacker trailheads, Woodchuck, Rancheria & Crown Valley all lead to dead end dirt roads – with nothing but solitude for miles & miles. Some might be passenger car accessible. Winter weather changes dirt road conditions (often).

The Kings River Geological Area is nearby, as well as both the John Muir Wilderness & Dinkey Lakes Wilderness.

Wishon Sierra Nevada

Large Reservoir with 8,000-10,000′ high sierra mountain peaks surrounding. Pine forests, views, fishing, camping, hiking in every direction, secluded dirt roads. Perfect high elevation trailheads, next to John Muir Wilderness. Great for backpackers!

All boating, but no waterski or jet ski.
One public boat ramp. Fishing boat rentals available.

WARNING: Water level changes daily.

 

lake area recreation:

Backpacking
Boating
Campground Camping
Dinkey Lakes Wilderness
Fishing
Hiking
Horse Pack Trips
John Muir Wilderness
Mountain Biking
Primitive Camping
Sierra National Forest
Snowmobiling the Sierras
Spanish Lake 4×4 Route

bridgewishon

Wishon is a summer vacation paradise for trout fishing, hiking, backpacking and back road exploring.

CLOSED FOR WINTER: NOV-APRIL = Snow closes the road for winter. For all you hardcore campers and hikers, you must call ahead to see if roads are open. It is rural forest, well traveled, but snow storms will shut everything down out here (for many months). Although, in some mild winters you can drive as far as Dinkey Creek on pavement. Gates are locked beyond that.

Central Sierra Wishon Lake Camping

LilyPad Campground @ Wishon Lake

Upper Kings Group Campground (by reservation only)

helpful numbers:

High Sierra Rangers Office: 559-855-5355
Pineridge and Kings River Ranger Districts
29688 Auberry Road, Prather, CA 93651

Dinkey Creek Ranger Station
(June thru September)
559-841-3404

Wishon Village RV
66500 McKinley Grove Road, Shaver Lake, CA 93664
559-865-5361

Engineering

Other places nearby


Black Rock Lake
Sierra Forest Road #11S12
Courtright Lake
Dusy Ershim 4×4 Trail

Dinkey Creek Campground
Dorabelle Campground
Gigantea Campground
McKinley Sequoia Grove
Sawmill Campground (dirt road)

Free, primitive or open camping abundant on the dirt backroads in Sierra National Forest. 4 wheel drive is not required for most routes, but a high clearance rig would help. Some gravel roads are graded annually and suitable for passenger cars – during summer months and only for about the first mile or two, off of the main road (pavement). Mud and snow are common on backroads!

Aspens @ Wishon, Western Sierra
nearby towns:
Fresno, CA
Huntington Lake
Lakeshore
Pine Flat
Prather
Shaver Lake

 

Sierra National Forest Map
Sierra National Forest Map
Dinkey Lakes Map
Dinkey Lakes Map
John Muir Wilderness Trail Maps Sierra Nevada Topo Map

Wilderness Wishon California

wish on

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH:
Wishon in Giant Sequoia & Wishon @ Bass Lake

There is another popular camp spot called Wishon Camp – on the Western Divide Highway, much further south in the Sequoia National Forest.

Wishon Campground on the Tule River in the Giant Sequoia National Monument. Just up from Springville, CA

And also, the Bass Lake Wishon; there is another WISHON Campground at popular Bass Lake, South of Yosemite NP.

Laguna Hanson Baja

hammock

Laguna Hanson

aka Laguna Juarez, Baja California Mexico

pinetree

(Laguna is Lagoon or Lake in Spanish)

elevation: 5,500′

Located inside the Sierra Juarez Mountains
Parque Nacional Constitucion de 1857, or
Constitucion de 1857 National Park, Baja California, Mexico

Pine forests in Baja California: Dirt roads access Laguna Hanson, so come prepared to drive many miles with dust & potholes — more than 20+ miles from the paved highway just to reach this prime high elevation destination. Since most of Baja is desert, dirt and coastline, this location is a rare treat for those wishing to travel (off the beaten path). The tallest mountain peak in Baja is nearby with the University Observatory.

observatorio
San Pedro Martir

campBaja Camping in the Mountains

Water levels drop well below normal & what we end up with is a shallow lake with huge boulders emerged. Kinda surreal looking. Tall pines & dense forest surrrounding lake. Wide open & flat areas perfect for biking, stargazing and group camping.

grazerland

4x4This Baja National Park campground is more like dispersed, or open camping around lake shore. Very popular place in the summer months & if you want seclusion camp away from the lake, deep in the forest. The best quiet spots are located in the north east vicinity.

No motorhomes allowed: the road is steep, long, all dirt and narrow in certain spots.

baja maps
Baja Maps from NatGeo
  • bouldering (rock climbing)
  • camping
  • dirt bike trails
  • hiking trails
  • horseback trails
  • hunting
  • kayaking
  • mountain biking
  • off-roading
  • sightseeing


No services at lake. Minimal camping facilities. Self sufficient campers a must. 

checkBRING EVERYTHING = ice chest w/ block ice, drinking water, flat tire repair kits, tow strap; extra blankets, medication, first aid kit. There is no store within 30+ miles of here, and the dirt road is very long (both ways) – so it is best to be prepared with all food and beverages.

LOCALS NOTE: An occasional rancher may approach your camp with his farm truck, selling fresh made cheese, beef jerky or other farm produce.

campfireNo pavement, no picnic tables.
Minimal pit toilets, few rangers patrolling and rock fire rings.

CAMPERS TIP: The toilets can be nasty!! Bring a shovel and wipes; walk into the forest for your bathroom break.

See our CAMP POTTY page for pooping in the wild

greatbkrds

 

dirtbikesOHV trails are nearby. OFF ROADING, dirt biking and 4×4 routes are essentially any dirt road that is within this forest; Drive slower, keep your ears peeled and watch out when they pass you, cuz they are most nimble and quicker.

No motorcycles signs are posted, but that doesn’t stop them riding all hours of the night. The mountains near Tecate and Mike’s Sky Ranch both cater to dirt bikers and tours, and are located nearby (sorta).

Park rangers & rules here are a lot more lax that in the “States”.

MAP NOTE: Google Maps has this place listed as Laguna Juarez

openspots4


Sequoia Lakes

XTERRA KEN

Sequoia National Park Lakes

Southern Sierra Nevada Lakes

A decent list of California Lakes, Reservoirs and Ponds, in the Sequoia region of the Southern Sierra mountains ….spanning from the Kern River to the Kings River. Some are well known recreation lakes with boating available, while others are secluded lakes or small ponds. Enjoy nature – it’s free!boatramp

camp canoe

onatrunk

Hiking Lakes around Sequoia NP

hikerAll the hikes listed here are to super remote alpine lakes w/ granite mountain peaks all around. The Sierra gems are located in the steep, granite, high altitudes, that require hours of strenuous hiking and backcountry skills. These are not paved granny trails by any means. They are the total opposite.

Long, steep trails, with the freshest thin air. Know your physical conditioning (or lack thereof) before taking on a 10 mile day hike. It will wipe you out!!! Backpackers should obtain a wilderness permit before venturing overnight into the back country.

Mineral King Canyon, backpacking or day hikes to high country alpine lakes
Base camp: Cold Springs Campground fish

  • Franklin Lakes
  • Amphitheater Lake
  • Columbine Lake
  • Big Five Lakes

Lodgepole Lakes in Sequoia National Park.
Beyond the waterfalls, in the high country backpacking or day hikes –

  • Moose Lake
  • Big Bird Lake
  • Pear Lake
  • Heather Lake
  • Aster Lake
  • Emerald Lake

Kings Canyon Lakes, Kings Cyn NP at the very end of Hwy 180.
Backpack or day hike trails, from moderate elevation canyon to alpine high country w/ rivers, waterfalls and lakes –

gilbert lake
Gilbert Lake near Keasarge Pass – High Sierra Hiking

NFSlogo

Parks & Forests in Sequoia / Sierra Nevada –

back road maps & hiking trail maps of this Sequoia area –4x4

Lake Isabella, Kern River Canyon
Lake Isabella, Kern River Canyon

see also –campfire

McKinley Grove, near Dinkey Creek & Wishon Reservoir

All Sequoia Groves in California

Sequoia Camping on the Back Roads


Mammoth Pool Reservoir

Mammoth Pool Lake, Sierra Nevada

San Joaquin River, Sierra National Forest

Mammoth Pool California

Awesome granite domes of the western Sierra, plus a scenic recreational lake that is only accessible half the year. Home to “Hells Half Acre” – Mammoth Pool Lake is one of the lesser known reservoirs in the western Sierra Nevada mountains. It’s kinda hard to get to although it is located on the border of Yosemite National Park. Area is totally surrounded by granite creeks, hiking trails, dirt roads and wilderness. This Mammoth Pool is an hours drive, way back behind Bass Lake (off Highway 41), and NOT located near Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra.

Camping just outside of Yosemite. Although the National Park boundary and trailheads are near by, accessing Yosemite Valley for day trips from this location will be quite tiresome and difficult, with long winding roads and over 2 hours drive one way. Better to camp near Bass Lake if you wanna be convenient to Yosemite NP.

Mammoth Pool
Sierra National Forest
3330′ elevation
123,000 acres

Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

(loop road, backcountry route closed in winter months)

Near the town of Oakhurst and Bass Lake California, get off the main highway and head over to the small town of North Fork. Take South Fork Road 225 (Italian Bar Rd) to Minarets Road (#81) also called Mammoth Road. Side trip paved Auberry Road (#222)  which skirts oak hills down to Redinger Lake Road. Hook up w/ Minarets Road (#81) that parallels the San Joaquin River on the forested ridge above, traveling 20 miles to  Numerous developed campgrounds and primitive camping sites off this route. Mammoth Pool is a signed right turn down Mammoth Pool Road, a steep road w/ a couple of campground near the lake shore and the only public boat launch is narrow, one at a time and it is not paved.

boatramp

The lake is closed to the public during May and the first half of June to allow migrating deer to swim across the reservoir. The reservoir is inaccessible following the first snowstorm, as the access road is not snowplowed.

rangerGrizzly Road, a paved route that leads deeper into the woods and connects over to BEASORE. Back on the main route (Road #81) on the far north end of the loop, a narrow, paved side route connects Clover Meadow Ranger Station and the impressive Granite Creek Campground. Plenty water and hiking trailheads that lead into Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park.

Back on the main route (Road #81) – the pavement becomes dirt in some sections and the route loops down to Beasore Road (#7), which traverses past meadows and dense forest, and heads back towards Bass Lake.Sierra Forest Map

backpacking, boating, camping
fishing, water ski, kayaking
sailing, swimming

backcountry side routes

NFS Campgrounds nearby –camp

hikers trailheadsMammoth Reservoir

  • Shake Flat
  • Logan Meadow
  • Hells Half Acre
  • South Fork
  • McCreary
  • Cassidy
  • Mammoth
  • Isberg
  • Fernandez
  • Norris
  • Jackass Lake

 towns nearby –


View Larger Map

Smith Lake California

Smith Lakes in California

Numerous places called SMITH LAKE exist in the Sierra Nevada.

wildflora

Lakes Basin Recreation Area has two different spots named SMITH LAKE. This region is in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains, near Downieville, at the north end of the California Gold Country @ Highway 49.

smithlake

Smith Lake hiking trail can be accessed from the Gray Eagle Lodge area along Gold Lake Highway; or this hiking lake can also be accessed from a park on the north side. Plumas Eureka State Park, via the Jameson Creek trail.

mikeatsmiths

Lakes Basin also has a small set of two lakes called “Smith Lakes” – located on Smith Creek. Way back behind the larger, most famous Gold Lake.

4×4 Road #11E71 will lead you to this remote destination, with the proper vehicle, of course. Creek crossings and large rocks; A quality topographic map and a 4 wheel drive rig is needed for this adventure.

nicemeadows
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Lakes Basin California
North Sierra mountains, Sierra granite meets Cascade volcanic rock. Bordering of State Park & 2 National Forests

nearby towns:

driftwood

Snake Lake, California
Snake Lake, California

Snake Lake Campground, located west of Quincy, CA – has a small neighboring lake named Smith Lake. Chances are Smith is covered with lily pads, just like Snake Lake. Smaller Smith is accessible via dirt road only. Many people hike, horseback, mountain bike or dirt-bike back on these narrow dirt roads, so use caution when traveling. Butterfly Valley Botanical Garden is located way back here, if you can find it. A real forest service map is advised.

  • black bears
  • butterflies
  • frogs
  • snakes

driftwood

Smith River National Recreation Area is a remote watershed located in Northern California, on the Oregon border.

another Smith Lake in California? We’re still looking.