NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Highway 108- Things To Do


Camping opportunities abound in the area. At the lower elevations year-round camping is possible and by early summer the choices are infinite. There are two ways to locate your campground. Option 1 is to click a highlighted link on the itinerary page to a listed lake or park. Option 2 is to click the Campground link on that page or below; these are additional campgrounds not located at a listed lake or park. So, if you want to camp at a lake or park, click the highlighted link. For others, click the campground link.


In the early going, at the lower elevations, Woodward Reservoir, Lake Tulloch and New Melones Reservoir provide fishing for warm water species, supplemented with stocks of rainbow trout. Don Pedro Lake adds kokanee salmon to the mix. As the road climbs inexorably into the higher elevations of the Stanislaus National Forest stocked and native trout come to the fore at any of several local lakes: Pinecrest Lake, Beardsley Reservoir and Donnells Reservoir. Leavitt Lake, at over 7,000 feet, attracts those with 4-wheel drive vehicles and a desire to go where some will fear to tread. Kirman Lake sits at the junction of Hwys. 180/395 and attracts anglers for stocked brook and cutthroat trout. River wonks have access to the Clark and South Forks of the Stanislaus River and the West Walker Rivers, offering fishing for stocked trout in several areas with truck access and native trout in the hard-to-reach stretches. The next two are really Hwy. 395 options, but are nearby and make a nice fit. Buckeye Creek has stocked trout near the campground and native trout elsewhere. Robinson Creek offers much the same.


The Carson-Iceberg, Hoover and Emigrant Wilderness Areas offer a plethora of opportunities to the backpacker, with beautiful and remote alpine lakes in the offing for those who like such things. Who doesn't?


We like two guides to 4-wheel drive trails. The best is Backcountry Adventures: Northern California by Massey & Wilson. The other is Guide to Northern California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails by Charles A. Wells.

The Niagara Creek and Niagara Creek Off-Highway Vehicle campgrounds cater to off-road enthusiasts, with nearby access into Forest Service lands. Niagara Rim Trail is 6.4 miles rated difficult. Niagara campgrounds are the place to start. Eagle Peak is 10 miles rated moderate. Pinecrest Lake is the place to set up camp. Dodge Ridge is 23.7 miles rated easy. Pinecrest Lake is home base.  The Bourland Trestle Trail is 6.7 miles rated easy. The Crandall Peak Trail is 28.8 miles rated moderate, providing access to the Stanislaus River as well as the Crandall Peak Off-Highway vehicle area. Pinecrest Peak Trail is 5.6 miles rated moderate offering backcountry camping. 4,700-Foot Road is 10 miles one way rated easy that passes close to Beardsley Reservoir and ends at Donnell Reservoir and the western edge of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.

Day Hikes

There are numerous quality day hikes in the area using the described campgrounds as jumping off points. Cleo's Bath is 5 miles round trip rated moderate with Pine Crest Lake Campground as a starting point. Secret Lake is a 7.1 mile loop rated moderate with Leavett Meadow Campground as the trailhead. Boulder Creek is a 5.3 mile round trip rated moderate with several of the campgrounds along Clark Fork Road near the trailhead. These are just a sample of the quality hikes in the area.