Tag Archives: wildfire

Gurnsey Campground

bestcampgurnsey

Gurnsey Creek, Lassen Forests & Fishing

NFS Gurnsey Creek Campground: W of Chester, CA

CLOSED 2020-2022: Campground is undergoing some serious work with removal of hazardous trees and forest clean up. NOTE: DixieFire 2021 did not damage this portion of the forest highway (CA 36)

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

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

Gurnsey Creek begins in Childs Meadows, north on Hwy 36 – just outside of Lassen National Park 

gurnseycreek

Gurnsey Creek Campground, California

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

Lassen Creek Camping

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

GURNSEY CREEK CAMPGROUND

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

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

GROUP CAMP RESERVATIONS NFS

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

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

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

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

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

see also – Lassen Lakes

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

Trailheads near Gurnsey Campground lead out to –

NEARBY TOWNS:


View Larger Map

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

California Wildfire Affected Areas

Forest Fires in California

pinetree

A list of recent wildfires in California, with counties and acres affected. Forest fires listed here are the ones that have affected public lands – like National Forests, National Parks, State Parks and BLM land.

On public lands you may see signs like –

Warning: Entering a Burned Area
Potential Hazards include:

  • LOOSE ROCKS
  • FALLING TREES + LIMBS
  • STUMP HOLES
  • FLASH FLOODING
  • DEBRIS FLOWS

>>> Entering a CLOSED FOREST with burn scar is a crime and can result in jail time. Check USFS forests web site for current closures. 

Forest Fires listed below are alphabetical. Green links to more data.

Dixie Fire
2021 Dixie Fire @ Lassen National Forest

2021 Wildfires in California

TOTAL ACRES
3,083,507 acres

_______________________________

Alisal Fire
Santa Barbara Co
16,970 Acres
_______________________________
 
Siskiyou Co
145,632 Acres
_______________________________
 
Beckwourth Complex
Plumas, Lassen Co
105,670 Acres
_______________________________
 
Caldor Fire
Eldorado Co
221,835 Acres
_______________________________
 

Dixie Fire
Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Shasta, Tehama Counties
963,309 Acres
_______________________________

Fawn Fire
Shasta Co
8,578 Acres
_______________________________
 

French Fire
Kern Co
26,535 Acres
_______________________________

(Sequoia National Park Fire)
Tulare Co
88,307 Acres
_______________________________
 
Siskiyou Co
26,409 Acres
_______________________________
 
Siskiyou Co
94,962 Acres
_______________________________
 
Shasta, Tehama, Trinity Counties
122,653 Acres
_______________________________
 
Trinity Co
223,124 Acres
_______________________________
 
Siskiyou, Trinity Co
199,359 Acres
_______________________________
 
River Fire
Mariposa, Madera Co
9,656 Acres
_______________________________
 
Salt Fire
Shasta Co
12,660 Acres
_______________________________
 
Tamarack Fire
Fresno Co
68,637 Acres
_______________________________
 
Tennant Fire
Siskiyou Co
10,580 Acres
_______________________________
 
Tulare Co
8,777 Acres
_______________________________
 
Tulare Co
97,528 Acres
 
California Wildfire Affected Areas
 
California Wildfire Affected Areas
2020 Bear Fire @ Zink Road; North Complex
 
2020 was a year of many “Complex Fires” inside California. These names were given to a grouping of multiple forest fires caused by lightning strikes, during dry thunderstorm events in mid August. The coastal Santa Cruz redwoods were on fire; then shortly after the Sierra Nevada started burning fast, and campers were rescued by helicopter. We started loosing Giant Sequoia trees at an alarming rate – starting this year.
 

2020 Wildfires in California

TOTAL ACRES 
4,397,809 acres

_______________________________

Riverside Co
33,424 Acres
_______________________________
 
Glenn, Mendocino, Lake, Tehama, Trinity, Shasta Counties
1,032,648 Acres
_______________________________
 
Blue Ridge Fire
Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside Counties
13,694 Acres
_______________________________
 
Los Angeles Co
115,997 Acres
_______________________________
 
Butte/Tehama/Glenn Lightning Complex 
Butte Co
19,609 Acres
_______________________________
 
Fresno, Madera Counties
379,895 Acres
_______________________________
 
San Mateo, Santa Cruz Counties
86,509 Acres
_______________________________
 
Monterey Co
124,924 Acres
_______________________________
 
Dome Fire (Mojave Preserve)
San Bernardino Co
43,273 Acres
_______________________________
 
San Bernardino, Riverside
22,744 Acres
_______________________________
 
Napa, Sonoma Counties
67,484 Acres
_______________________________
 
Lassen Co
22,634 Acres
_______________________________
 
Hog Fire
Lassen Co
9,564 Acres
_______________________________
 
July Complex
Modoc, Siskiyou Counties
83,261 Acres
_______________________________
 
Colusa, Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Yolo Counties
363,220 Acres
_______________________________
 
Loyalton Fire
Lassen, Plumas, Sierra Counties
47,029
_______________________________
 
Fresno Co
29,667 Acres
_______________________________
 
Mountain View Fire
Mono, Alpine Counties
20,385 Acres
_______________________________
 
North Complex
Bear Fire
Plumas, Butte Counties
318,935 Acres
_______________________________
 
Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity Counties
144,698 Acres
_______________________________
 
River Fire
Monterey Co
48,088 Acres
_______________________________
 
Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Merced, Stanislaus Counties
396,624 Acres
_______________________________
 
Sheep Fire
Plumas, Lassen Counties
29,570 Acres
_______________________________
 
Orange Co
12,466 Acres
_______________________________
 
Siskiyou, Del Norte Counties
166,127 Acres
_______________________________
 
Slink Fire
Alpine, Mono Counties
26,759 Acres
_______________________________
 
SQF Complex
Castle Fire
Tulare Co
174,178 Acres
_______________________________
 
Valley Fire
San Diego Co
16,390 Acres
_______________________________
 
W-5 Cold Springs
Lassen, Modoc Counties
84,817 Acres
_______________________________
 
Shasta Co
56,338 Acres

 

disaster zone

California Wildfire Affected Areas

CapRadio WILDFIRES MAP

California Wildfire Map
click above for interactive map spanning 150 years of wildfires

 

California Wild fires

coming soon :

2019 Wildfires in California
2018 Wildfires in California
2017 Wildfires in California

California Wildfire Affected Areas
Madrone trees burned hot with 60 mph winds

Mill Creek California

Lassen Camping for Free, Mill Creek @ 172
Lassen Camping for Free – on Mill Creek

Mill Creek w/ Lassen Peaks (July 2011)

Numerous Mill Creeks exist in the golden state of California. Here we will list most of them, some with campgrounds and others without. Waterfalls, big rivers and

driftwood

millcreekresort
Mill Creek Resort, California

LASSEN NF

The well-known Mill Creek, is the one south of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Certain areas could be closed to the public, due to the 2021 Dixie Fire

camp

MILL CREEK, CA

Small mountain resort in the forest near Mill Creek, with cabin rentals, RV camping and campgrounds nearby. A general store is open in summer months, and snow can be found in winter. Highway 172 makes a nice paved loop around this forested area and joins back to Hwy 36. Route may be closed due to snow in winter & spring. Free camping can be found along this creek, although a campfire permit is always required for camping outside of developed campgrounds.

Mill Creek Resort
40271 Highway 172, Mill Creek CA 96061
530-595 4449

Mill Creek Resort Campground

elevation = 4720′

  • 14 tent sites
  • 8 RV sites
  • reservations & fees
  • closed in winter
  • showers & flush toilets
  • picnic tables
  • camp fire rings

Mill Creek Indians: Described as a group of ‘renegade and outlaws’, from multiple tribes in NorCal. Mill Creek Indians took shelter in secluded Mill Creek gorge, located below the Mill Creek Rim, a volcanic ridge which extends from Mount Lassen to the Sacramento River Valley. See more on Ishi Wilderness.

see also – Hole in the Ground Campground in Lassen NF

Mill Creek Lassen
Mill Creek near Lassen (2015)

Camping Mill Creek
Camping Mill Creek – along Hwy 172

driftwood

MENDO NF

Fouts Springs is a popular off-road camping area on the far east side of Mendocino National Forest. Many miles off I-5, near Stonyford, CA. Numerous NFS campgrounds exist is this rugged canyon. One of them is called Mill Creek Campground and it has few pine tree and lots of chaparral, plus a decent little creek flowing nearby. OHV – off highway vehicle use is heavy in this region, so know when to go. At certain times of the year this remote canyon can be quiet and peaceful. Call the local rangers to find out.
ranger
Stonyford Workcenter
5171 Stonyford-Elk Creek Road
Stonyford, CA 95979
530-963-3128

NOTE:  RANCH FIRE, this whole Mendocino Forest was badly burned by recent wildfires.
Mendocino Complex Fire 2018

All of the Snow Mountain Wilderness was burnt and affected, including all the National Forest land surrounding it. Fouts Springs Campgrounds may have been spared, but the hills, trails and roads now lead to blackened forest.  Many routes could be closed; check with ranger station in advance of travel.

Mill Creek Camp @ Mendo
Mill Creek Camp @ Fouts Springs

driftwood

MODOC NF

south warner sign

Warner Mountains  hwy395

Mill Creek Waterfall is located on the western slopes of the Warner Range, near the South Warner Wilderness. On the headwaters to the Pit River; About 6 miles east of US Highway 395, near the town of Likely, south of Alturas, California

elevation = 5680′

mill creek falls
Modoc Mill Creek Falls in NE California

driftwood

KLAMATH NF

Mill Creek inside the Marble Mountain Wilderness.

  • Mill Creek Ponds Trailhead – Mill Creek Ponds Trail
  • Etna Mill Creek Trailhead – Etna Mill Creek Trail
    (Pacific Crest Trail access)

PCT

driftwood

PLUMAS NF

Mill Creek @ Bucks
Mill Creek @ Bucks

The Bucks Lake Wilderness region also has a developed NFS Mill Creek Campground. The camp location is well off the Bucks Lake Road, tucked deep in a tight canyon; northern most point and near a dam for the large NFSlogoBucks Lake.

elevation = 5200′

  • 10 camp sites
  • fee
  • closed in winter
  • 14 night camp limit
  • RV = 21′ max
  • pit toilets
  • picnic tables
  • camp fire rings

Bucklin Road (aka Bucklin Dam Rd and Road 33) #24N24 a paved road on the west end of Bucks Lake, connects to Road #24N88X which leads back to this smaller campground; camp sites are paved. Steep driveway down.

This Mill Creek intersects Bucks Lake at the campground, then connects to the PCT hiking trail, although the narrow dirt road #24N88X veers away from creek a few miles up.

driftwood

SEQUOIA / SIERRA National Forest

This Mill Creek is located on the south shore of the lower Kings River, above Pine Flat Reservoir. This is the boundary where Sequoia NF meets the big river, and on the other side of the water is the Sierra NF.

Mill Flat Campground (also known as Mill Creek Camp) is a shady, oak flat campground on a dirt road, located at a dead end canyon site, right on the rocky rivers edge.

kings river view

As usual – the further you drive, the more seclusion you will find. This observation holds true for this Mill Creek location. During peak summer months, there may be families enjoying this spot, but most of the year it is virtually empty and rarely used.

Oak foothills, canyons, granite rocks, wildflowers. Fishing, camping, hiking, rafting, kayaking.

No cell phone coverage back in this deep canyon.

free river camp sites

NFS Mill Flat Campground @ Lower Kings River

elevation = 1167′

  • 5 camp sites
  • free, no charge
  • open year round
  • 14 night camp limit
  • RV = 25′ max
  • pit toilets
  • picnic tables
  • camp fire rings

kings tables

campground mill creek

Mill Flat Kings River
Mill Flat Kings River


Childs Meadow

Childs Meadows @ Lassen Forest

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

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

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

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

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

Lassen: Childs Meadow (before the fire)

July 2011 vs. July 2021

lassenmeadows2011

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

Childs Meadow 2010
Childs Meadow Resort in 2010

mountains

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

childs meadows

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

Burnt Above
Highlands Ranch Resort with Dixie Fire burn scar on ridge above 2021

October Snow Barn
Historic Barn – early snow in October 2021

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

cafe and motel
Cafe and Motel (1950s postcard )

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

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

Zink Trail 21N78

Plumas National Forest
Trail #21N78

Before and After Photo

Straw Swipe

21N78before21N78after

Trailhead at Top of Zink Road in Berry Creek, California
This route is Straw Rd on GoogleMaps

In summer 2017 this trail from Zink saddle to the Big Bald Rock was so dense and overgrown that I only made it half a mile, before I quit and turned back.

SEPT 8, 2020 #BearFire cleared it all in one night.

21N78straw

Decimated Plumas Forest

Plumas Forest View
from the top of Bald Rock

Before and After Photo

Forest Swipe

Burnt Forest

We used to have such a beautiful, lush and diverse forest in the Northern Sierra Nevada, but all that has changed with recent wildfires that have scorched millions of acres of National Forest land in the past few years.

Survivor

An unbelievable amount of destruction has taken place with losses in wildlife, forest ecosystems, personal property, and human lives, as well as buildings of historic value.

Sadly, I find my California landscape photographs are now mere documentation of what beauty once was.

 

Plumas National ForestNFSlogo

Berry Creek, California

 

 

decimated
Decimated forest at Bald Rock

California Areas Affected by Wildfires

Our Sequoia

Before and After Photo

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

Sequoia Swipe

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

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

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

UPDATE DEC 2021

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

Mostly brown, but green appearing May 2021.

Sequoia Strong
Holding out hope for the Sequoia.

Sequoia toasted

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

SEQUOIA PROGRESS

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

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

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

califrepublic

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

Kern River Camping

relaxing at kern

Kern River California

Kern River is a top recreation destination for the lower half of the state, since it is the only big Sierra river within easy reach of Southern California.

Lower mountain elevations 2000-4000′ means camping all year is possible on the Kern. With only a few inches of rainfall, plus an average high temperature of 60 degrees in December & January, Kernville has become a year-round recreation destination for the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Kern Canyon and most surrounding mountains are managed by USDA: Sequoia National Forest, which extends south to the Tehachapi range!

Sierra Nevada ROAD CLOSURES during winter restricts that Kern Canyon is only accessible via the Hwy 178 route. Both the Western Divide Highway (to the north) and Sherman’s Pass Road (to the east) close for many months, due to snow. (typically, NOV-APRIL closure)

Snowy Springs

 

Popular Kern Recreation – backpacking, camping, fishing, hiking, river rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, off-roading & floating (inner tubing).

Kern Tube Ready

Kern River can be divided into 5 different & distinct regions:

kern gorge
Granite gorge, Kern River, South of Whitney

Kern River High Country

headwaters of the Kern River.
High Sierra, Golden Trout Wilderness, Kern Hot Springs, Mount Whitney snowmelt, Kern Gorge. foot access only, wilderness backcountry. fishing, day hikes, backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering, horse packs.

fencedmeadow

Upper Kern Plateau

Southern Fork of the Kern River
Golden Trout Wilderness
Monache Meadows (Inyo NF)
Troy Meadows
Kennedy Meadows
Horse Meadow Campground
Big Meadow
Long Valley Campground
Chimney Creek Campground
Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway

johnsondale bridge @ KERN

Forks of the Kern

(areas north of Johnsondale)

Johnsondale Bridge
backpackers & fishing trailheads
Big parking lot at the bridge. trails travel rivers edge into a tight canyon, impressive rock gorge continues up to the tallest mountain peaks in the High Sierra.

rincon
Shermans Pass Road hard right, up hill, turn-off
the main (paved) route that connects Kern River to Mojave desert.

RINCON CAMP – The Rincon Fault (an earthquake fault line) runs in a north-south direction, on the east side of Kern River. Popular and rugged RINCON, a dirt bike and mountain bike trail runs this ridge as well. An overgrown hunters camp (which has been almost destroyed) is located up hill from Brush Creek falls; but accessible via unmaintained dirt road – unsigned pull out, just off Shermans’ Pass Road. High clearance vehicle is needed to reach this spot.

Johnsondale Cabins: R Ranch

johnsondale
Johnsondale under Fire 2002

Sequoia #22S82 – Forks of the Kern Road

>> recently burnt in wildfire Windy Fire 2021
Boy Scout Camp Whitsett
Lloyds Meadow
Kern River Gorge
Lower Peppermint Campground
Primitive camps – Camp 1, Camp 2, Camp 3, Camp 4, Camp 5
Jerky Meadows Trailhead to Golden Trout Wilderness

kern flat camping

Upper Kern River

Kern River north of Kernville, CANFS

BUSY: This part of the Kern River sees much of the action, with kayakers, river rafters, fishermen, RVs, motorcycles, mountain bikers, backpackers and car campers, seeking easy river access, hiking trailheads or just a good picnic spot.

Numerous small lodges between Kernville & Johnsondale

Brush Creek: awesome waterfalls & pools on Brush Creek, only accessible by hiking trail.

Rincon Trail runs above the river on the east side, via the Rincon earthquake fault. This is right where Brush Creek comes down the steep mountain. RINCON is favorite mountain biking trail, that is also open to dirt bikes (OHV) & equestrian, so share the trail and play nice. Rincon Camp is rugged, may be overgrown and unmaintained. Long dirt road might require high clearance vehicle or possible 4×4, if weather is wet.

kern fishing

Lake Isabella

Huge recreational reservoir in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Dry and high desert terrain. Canyons have more vegetation. East part of lake is a wildlife refuge w/ abundant cottonwood trees, which turn golden yellow in Autumn.

The earthen dam is on the south westside. California State Route 178 (Hwy 178), which connects Mojave desert w/ Bako. This major east-west Sierra route is a four-laner (freeway) cutting thru the valley. EXIT#  intersects w/ CA 155 to reach Alta Sierra, Wofford Heights, Kernville and all place north of there.

Breckenridge is a Mountain to the south of Isabella and Lower Kern. Tall pines with an empty campground awaits!

Isabella Lake

Lower Kern River

(river access / camping, southwest of Lake Isabella)

Historic Kern – Keyesville OHV
Off-Road Camping

hobo camping
Hobo Camp has a fishing trail along the river.

Old Kern Canyon Road

Minimal to modest campsites in the lower canyon. Most seclusion for overnight spots, can be found along the empty stretches of the Old Kern Canyon Road. Many curvy mountain miles, one lane, paved, several flat spots for easy road-side camping. Caution for cattle in roadway. Speed limit is generally under 40 mph for this historic route which parallels the 178, in between Lake Isabella and Bako.

Kern River Hot Tub
Local Hot Springs

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

Footed Rock

Footed Rock @ Bald Rock
Berry Creek, California

Before and After Photo

Wildfire: Bear Fire / North Complex 2020

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

Footed Swipe

Berry Creek, CAfooted rock 95916

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

Bald Rock California

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

Mushroom Rock
Mushroom Rock @ Bald Rock

 

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

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

mountains

see more swipe photos –

Primitive Camping California

Sierra Creek Camping

Primitive Camps in California

Free camping outside of a developed campground, for a self-contained camper who wants seclusion and privacy. Real relaxation in total peace and quiet. More nature, less people and minimal vehicles.

Campfire NIghts

Free Campsites • Dispersed Camps  Open Camping Boondocking

primitive camp sites the bare minimum. a clearing for a tent, maybe a fire ring. no toilet, no fees; dirt road access.

campfire

campfire permits required. And it is up to you to know the current fire restrictions in the area you seek to camp overnight.

Campfire Restrictions in California

  • shovel

  • water

  • topo maps

  • trash bags

  • tow strap

  • camping gear

Back Roads to Secluded Camps –

The further out you are willing to drive, the more remote you can be. Good topo maps of the region help you to find these ultimate, secret camping spots. National Forests & BLM Lands require a free camp fire permit to have a campfire.

4x4

Fire safety is always a big concern in wildfire prone areas like California. Additional Permits & Passes may be needed in some forests or parks; each location is different. Check with the local ranger station for up to date restrictions.

Many dirt roads lead avid campers to the best out-of-the-way camp sites. Camps may have picnic tables or just a fire ring, but usually NO toilets. Have the “No Bathroom Blues”? Don’t sweat it. check out the page on Camp Potty

Some camp sites are as bare as a small clearing, a rock fire ring if you’re lucky. A detailed backcountry map is always advised. If you count on your digital mobile device and online access for mapping, you could find yourself very lost. GoogleMaps is known for mislabeling the smallest of back roads – and they do not feature dirt roads either.

free desert washes
Turtle Mountain Road, SoCal

camptruckA high clearance vehicle may be needed to reach certain camp spots, but many can be accessed with a standard passenger car. Low riders will likely bottom out and motorcycle riders will get dusty.

Know your vehicles limitations for any off-road use and don’t get stuck in a bad situation. Soft sand is quite common in deserts and 4×4 might be needed. There aren’t any tow trucks out in the boonies and if you do find one, it’ll cost you something fierce. Watch for large rocks, deep ruts or tree limbs in the road (at any time) and watch low overhanging branches when driving a motorhome in to such spots. Some dedicated, hard-core RV campers prefer to camp in remote locations.

Kern RV spot

yellow-post camp sites

Southern California has something called yellow post camps, but we’ve really ONLY seen them inside San Bernardino National Forest areas, which includes Idyllwild and Mount San Jacinto, plus all the Big Bear Lake Mountains.

YELLOW STICK? These are fire safe spots w/ picnic table; secluded in the forest, some accessible by passenger cars, while other camps require a 4×4 to reach. Yellow post sites campfires are often off limits during fire restrictions, when only fires are allowed inside the larger developed campgrounds.

dirt road and trailheads

Backpackers trailheads often have a few camp sites near the parking lot, but these may be busy during summer months. Dirt roads leading to trailheads can have primitive camp sites along them as well. Long, big creeks in the forests are notorious for having awesome camp sites. Big river camp sites are sometimes free, if you know where to look. Sometimes the smallest of California campgrounds have no charge, first come, first serve (BLM, National Forest, or State run).

freespice

No charge campgrounds in the Sierra Mts 

find free camp spots

Before it got labeled BOONDOCKING: Primitive Camping in remote spots was what we lived for. Camp outside of developed campgrounds, for free. Campfires will usually be banned on these back roads during the driest part of the year. Check with local ranger stations for current fire restrictions.

Campfire Restrictions in California

check

inyohighroad
Inyo High Country Roads

39N06dusk
McCloud #39N06 – Grizzly Peak Lookout Rd

pros and cons

possible dirt road access, seclusion, privacy, darker skies, no fees, no crowds, real peace & quiet

no toilet, no picnic tables, no pavement, no hospital, a long hike out, no cell phone service?

hiker

always be prepared to hike out (if need be). a giant tree can come down and block your exit road. landslides often happen on dirt back roads. the vehicle could break down or become disabled. get a topographic map and know how to read the terrain, without your device/phone.

elevation

PAY extra close attention when driving in (visually with terrain and your eyes and your map). You never know when you may need to back track – or turn around to find a PLAN B campsite.

Avid camper people are indeed known to GPS waypoint their favorite pick campsites (way on the back roads), so they can arrive after work, in the dark, on a Thursday night. Now that’s planning ahead!

rockfirering

Camp Hole

northlassen

Primitive Campsites


National Forest Cabins

California Fire Lookouts for Rent
US Forest Service Cabins

red cabin

NFSlogo
Rent a secluded cabin with an amazing view, a historic tower for wildfire spotting, or a USFS guard station – hidden deep inside USDA California National Forests. Several of these NFS lookouts have been closed recently, so the ones listed below have links to status and reservation information.

Dirt road access is common to reach these remote locations. Some require stair climbing, or steep access hikes. Winter months are usually snowy, inaccessible and sometimes dangerous for these high country locations. Access roads suffer from closures due to rock slides or landslides. Check with the locals ranger station for current conditions.

A few of these rentals are open all year long – in the southern part of the golden state.

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Harvey West Cabin
4,720′ elev. on Silverfork American River, Gold Rush

Loon Lake Chalet
6375′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin
6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Sly Guard Cabin
Sly Park @ Jenkinson Lake, near Placerville, Gold Country California

Van Vleck Bunkhouse
6549′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California
download PDF info sheet

Lassen National Forest USFS

McCarthy Point Lookout
overlooking Mill Creek Canyon and Ishi Wilderness
ranger & info 530-258-2141

Mendocino National Forest USFS

Pine Mountain Lookout
>>>> Renovated & ReOPENS soon! April 2020
4400′ elev.  over looking Eel River wilderness
ranger & info 707-275-2361

Plumas National Forest USFS

Crocker Guard Station
5700′ elev. near Meadow on back road
Lake Davis Loop, way out behind Portola, California

 

Big Bear Lake 2002
Big Bear Lake, Southern California

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Coon Creek Cabin
Actually this one is a reservable group campground – next to a set of historic cabins. Big Bear Area Group Camp Site. Heart Bar Rd #1N02 near Angeles Oaks, CA

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
(no longer available overnight stays 2019)

Coon Cabin
Coon Cabin – Southern Cal

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station
off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; located in between Sequoia NP & Kings Canyon NP

Camp 4 ½ Cabin
1100′ elevation; Lower Kings River
near Pine Flat Lake, CA

Grouse Valley Cabins
3 cabins near lakes; Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide
4800′ elev.

Mountain Home Guard Station
Mountain Home State Forest, Sequoia Groves
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Needles Fire Lookout
(destroyed in structure fire 2011)

the needles
View of The Needles, from Dome Rock on Western Divide Highway (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Oak Flat Lookout
Oak Flat Cabin Rental
4900′ elevation; Kern River canyon near Lake Isabella

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

Quaking Aspen Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide Highway near Ponderosa, CA

Wishon Cabin Rental
Tule River, Giant Sequoia National Monument; open all year round. 4000′ elev. near Camp Nelson, CA

Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

Forest Glen Guard Station
near Trinity River & Forest Glen, CA

Frog Meadow Guard Station
7760′ elev. near Lake Isabella, CA

Girard Ridge Lookout
Historic Fire Lookout Tower
4809′ elev. near Dunsmuir, CA

Hirz Mountain Lookout Tower
Hirz Mtn. Fire Watch Tower Rental
overlooking Shasta Lake, CA
(currently closed for repairs 2019)

Harris Springs Guard Station
near McCloud, CA

Little Mount Hoffman Lookout
Mt. Hoffman Rental
7000′ elev. near McCloud, CA

Post Creek Guard Station
near Hayfork & Platina, CA


Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Camp 4 ½ Cabin Rental
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir

 

Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte Cabin & Fire Lookout
elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
(road damage & access issues 2017)

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, North Gold Country CA

lakes basin views


California Fire Lookout

Dome Land from Bald Mtn, KERN
Bald Mountain (elev 9382′) Lookout in Sequoia National Forest

NFS Fire Lookout Towers

JULY 2019 – Many thanks goes to Pike County Lookout for initially spotting the #RockFire – in the Plumas National Forest, near Berry Creek, CA

Lookouts in the California National Forests

Ready to see far and wide – with wild terrain? Views for 100 miles out and the best scenery California has to offer. Be prepared to off road or hike to reach one of these destinations.

Below is a list of historic look out towers & cabins used for spotting wildfires. Some are located on steep granite peaks, ridge lines or dirt roads. 4WD may be recommended to reach some of these. Road conditions can change w/ harsh mountain weather, so be prepared to rough it. Thunderstorms are common on these mountain ridges.

Several of these places are cabins, some are stone houses, but most fire lookouts are basic metal towers – with high climbing staircases, so you must be in decent physical strength to haul your ass up this high.

rangers cabin mountains hikers vacation

Cabins are also called guard stations, huts, bunkhouses. Most are located on mountain tops, but a few exist in desert regions. Some are refurbished & available for overnight rentals. Bare bones furnishings, so forget the frills. People come up here for the thrills. To be outside w/ epic views, way away from the urban grind & to feel on top-of-the-world.

Coon Creek Cabin

 

NFSlogoSee the full list of overnight accommodations on mountain peaks & ridges, some near meadowsNational Forest Cabin Rentals

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin
6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Cuyama Peak
Cuyama Lookout is a rough road up. Off Hwy 33, Los Padres NF

Los Padres National Forest

4x4Cuyama Peak Lookout Tower (pictured above) off Hwy 166 & via Santa Barbara Cyn, 4×4 recommended. Sorta near jct w/ Hwy 33

Big Bear Lake 2002
Big Bear Lake, Southern California

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Butler Peak Fire Lookout
elev. 8537′ (no overnight stays)
located in between Green Valley Lake and Fawnskin

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
(no longer available for overnight stays 2019)

Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout
(no overnight stays)
above Rimforest, off Bear Springs Road, N of Hwy 18

Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout
elev. 8846′ (no overnight stays)
highest lookout in the San Bernardino NF

hiker

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Bald Mountain Lookout (no overnight stays)
off of Sherman’s Pass Road #22S05, 4×4 may be needed.
Bald Mountain 9382′ elevation; in between the Kern Plateau & Kern Riverranger

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station
off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; located in between Sequoia NP & Kings Canyon NP

Mountain Home Guard Station
Mountain Home State Forest, Sequoia Groves
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Needles Fire Lookout
(destroyed in structure fire 2011)

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round 4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

pinetree

Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Camp 4 ½ Cabin Rental
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir

 

Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte Cabin & Fire Lookout
elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
(road damage & access issues 2017)

4x4

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Pike County Lookout (no overnight stays)
near Challenge, CA & New Bullards Bar Reservoir

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, North Gold Country CA

lakes basin views

BEWARE:
California is the land of wildfires!

campfireAlways check for local fire conditions at nearest ranger station, obtain a free campfire permit when camping outside of developed campgrounds, and always practice fire safety when visiting our public lands. You can be held liable for wildfires. Outta control campfire, cigarettes, idling vehicles on tall, dry grass. Be very cautious with fires on the often dry, west coast.

see also –  National Forest Cabin Rentals

20N01- Mendo NF

20N01

Forest Road #20N01 – Mendo National Forest

Road 308 Ivory Mill Road. Located on the EAST SIDE of the coastal mountain range, west of Stony Gorge Reservoir.

South Fork of Elk Creek, California

Lodoga Stonyford Rd #306 – also known as just plain Stonyford Road, skirts the coastal foothills in a north south direction, on the east side of the range. Oaks and ranches, livestock grazing and fences everywhere. CHP out in force, so watch your speed (55). Public lands and forests are up the hill, above the valley, on the dirt roads. Free camping, off roading, hiking, creeks, lakes, mountains.

Drive up paved Road 308 passing the ranch lands and private properties.

Just inside the National Forest boundary, 308 peels off sharply to the left, uphill and steep, super sandy. The views over the valley, hills and reservoir are epic, but the dirt road is fluffy dry dirt, tight curves, no guardrails. A long and winding track, with very little spot to turn around. Maybe designated as OHV route?

This whole area is where the Ranch Fire of 2018 was burning; contained at road 308. The wildfire burnt half a million acres in Mendo NF (the largest fire in California history). Some of these roads may be closed off now. Call the rangers for current, up-to-date accessibility!

So… back at the National Forest boundary: Straight. Take the right fork instead, which goes straight into the forested canyon, up the creek. Elk Creek, south fork coming from the higher peaks above. This pleasant forest drive is called Mendocino Rd #20N01 and it climbs upward with hairpin turns; continues up to the top of the forested ridges @ 5000’+ elevation.

Forest Oaks Mendo

Wildflowers in Spring. Snow in winter. This back route may have been paved once in 1960, but it is nearly back to dirt again in most sections. Suitable for passenger car travel at slow speeds. Unless of course, it is raining or snowing, then 4WD may be best. And being that this is real Northern California territory, rain and snow are annual.

Campfires on the Back Roads
SPRINGTIME: Free Camps and Campfires on the Back Roads

Dispersed camping is allowed in this region with a valid fire permit.

Various camping spots near roadside, after mile 8. Reset trip meter when your turn off main drag (Lodoga Stonyford Road).

Mendo National Forest
Mendocino National Forest Map

Snow Mountains Wilderness
Fouts Springs

towns nearby:

Alder Springs
Elk Creek, CA
Stonyford
Williams, CA
Willows, CA