NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

East Fork- Carson River- Near Markleeville

Sponsored by Carson River Resort

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Description: If trout fishing in rivers gets your attention this is one of the nicest places to pursue your trade. Between the hamlet of Markleeville and Ebbetts Pass (that crosses the Sierra Nevada Mountains) Hwy. 4 is both a beautiful drive and a wonderful place to fish. The river is fairly robust here, such that in the early summer when the runoff is muscular river rafting is popular. But later on ,when the river calms down somewhat, anglers take center stage. Making things even better, Hwy. 4 parallels the river for quite a ways in this area, with many very good access points. So if you combine a quality trout stream, a pretty drive, easy access to the river and the opportunity to hang out in a wonderful place this spot should be on your agenda. Parts of the river are catch-and-release only so check with Todd at the Carson River Resort or any of the nice people in Markleeville, including the Alpine County Chamber of Commerce. The river is stocked on a regular basis by DFG with typical planters and by Alpine County with bragging material. And do not fail to drive over Ebbetts Pass, either coming, going or just for drill. Check out Mosquito Lake and Woods Lake in particular. Grover Hot Springs State Park is nearby, as is Indian Creek Reservoir.

If you want to fish in quiet luxury, consider staying at the rustic Carson River Resort. They offer cabins and RV sites with full hook-ups just across Hwy. 4 from the river, a cabin on the river, and a campground on the river side of Hwy. 4 with some sites right on the river. A store with provisions, fishing gear and local information complete the picture. Click the link for more info.

A tip: Fuel up before you get into the mountains, particularly if you need diesel. There was a gas station in Markleeville but as of mid-2010 it was longer in business. Those needing diesel may need to drive to South Lake Tahoe to fill-up.

Location: If you are coming from the western side of the Sierra's, Option 1 is to take Hwy. 4 from its start in Hercules or anywhere else as it makes its way east; Stockton would be a logical start for many. Stay the course as you cross the mountains over Ebbetts Pass and wind your way east. As you descend you will come to the river on your left. Camp and fish along the way, or continue to about 2.5 miles from Markleeville if you want to sample the offerings at the Carson River Resort. Option 2 has you taking Hwy. 88 from Stockton over Carson Pass to the junction with Hwy. 89 where you turn right toward and through Markleeville. You'll soon see the river on the right. Stop at will and enjoy the experience.

Camp: Grover Hot Springs State Park. This is a nice option as you can camp in one of the better state park campgrounds and partake of the hot spring, with its 102 degree Fahrenheit mineral bath. It's soothing waters are reputed to have a beneficial effect on, if not cure, bad fishing luck. Click the link. At one time another option was Indian Creek Recreation area on Indian Creek Reservoir near Markleeville. You can still camp there but the surrounding area has been clear-cut by the logging industry so its not very pretty these days. But camp if you must. 19 sites for tents or RV's to 30 feet. No hook-ups. Ten walk-in tent sites. One group site for up to 40 people. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and restrooms with flush toilets and showers. Boat ramp. Some sites with wheelchair access. No reservations for individual sites but required for the group site. Open late April- mid-November, weather permitting. Located on Hwy. 89 just outside Markleeville. Contact the Bureau of Land Management, Carson City Field Office, at 775-885-6000. Turtle Rock Park. A county park with 28 sites for tents or RV's to 34 feet. No hook-ups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water, pit toilets and showers. Some sites with wheelchair access. Reservations not accepted. Open May-mid-October, weather permitting. Supplies nearby in Woodfords. Located on Hwy. 89 4.5 miles from Woodfords. Contact: Alpine County Public Works. 530-694-2340. Markleeville Campground. A small 10 site forest service camp for tents or RV's to 20 feet. No hook-ups. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water and pit toilets. No reservations. Located on Markleeville Creek (poor fishing) 1/2 mile from Markleeville on Hwy. 89. Contact: Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Carson Ranger District. 775-882-2766.

Supplies/ services: Carson River Resort. A convenience store with some supplies and fishing gear. Markleeville has a general store, restaurants, and other amenities but no fuel; the gas station was shuttered at last visit in mid-2010. Alpine County Chamber of Commerce. PO Box 265, 3 Webster St., Markleeville, CA 96120. 530-694-2475 or

Note: When in Markleeville stop at the Chamber office and pick up a free copy of a paper titled "Fishing the California Alps." It's a great resource for any angler with some great articles by local pros.