NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California


Highway 4 Campgrounds

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees State Park- North Grove & Oak Hollow Campgrounds

A 6,500 acre park paying homage to two groves of giant sequoia. The north grove includes the Discovery Tree. The south grove the 2 largest; Agassiz Tree & the Palace Hotel Tree. The south grove hike is highly recommended, an easy hike thru shaded forest with access to some impressive trees.

Location: The park entrance is just off Hwy. 4 three miles east of Arnold. Arnold is approximately 23 miles from Angels Camp.

Attraction: Two groves of giant sequoia. Fishing, swimming, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, exhibits, seasonal visitor center.

Campsite Description:  North Grove: 51 tent sites; 48 sites for RV’s to 30 ft. 5 hike-in sites. Group camping area. Wheelchair access. Oak Hollow Campground: 23 sites for tents; 18 sites for RV’s to 30 ft. Dump station at North Grove campground.

Season: Year-round

Reservations: 800-444-7275 or www.reserveamerica.com

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access North Grove campground
Fees $20-25   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers Yes   Elev 4,800 ft.
Toilets Flush   Supplies In Arnold

Information: Calaveras Big Trees State Park, 209-795-2334. www.parks.ca.gov.

Day Hikes in Area: North Grove Trail- 1.5 mi. loop passes 150 sequoias. South Grove Trail- - 3.5 mi. trail passes the biggest trees. Less popular and crowded of the trails.

Columbia State Historic Park

Columbia State Historic Park

A side trip off Hwy 4. to a restored mining town where gold was discovered in 1850 and the population of between 25,000-30,000 made it one of the largest cities in California by 1853. Well worth a visit for a few hours. No camping.

 Amenities of the day, as advertised on the hotel door.

The Lake Alpine Experience

There are several campgrounds surrounding the lake as well as a private lodge (Lake Alpine Resort) that offers boat and kayak rentals, a small grocery, a coin-operated laundry, coin-operated showers ice and propane and a sit-down restaurant and bar. The campgrounds have flush toilets. Only the Lake Alpine Campground is actually located on the lake, which makes it popular. But it tends to be more crowded so those desiring privacy and space may opt for another camp. The others require a short hike or drive. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout.

A short distance south lies Spicer Reservoir. Considerably larger than Lake Alpine, it too is very scenic, is stocked with trout, has a boat launch and a campground. It has no other amenities. The well-marked access road is just off Highway 4 and is paved the entire 10 mile distance. Just off that access road on well maintained gravel roads one has access to several other lakes that offer walk-in camping ( a short walk) with pit toilets and wonderful ambience. Union and Utica reservoirs are 2 miles distant, Summit Lake 3 miles and Elephant Rock Lake 4 miles.

Visitors can provision up in Arnold, a town with anything one might need. Of particular use would be Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods, with fishing, hunting and camping supplies as well as Sierra Nevada Adventure Company, primarily a kayak sales and rental center but with a decent inventory of quality camping gear, primarily attire.

This is a forest service campground area. There are some limited ranger talks, hikes, etc. during the summer. A must hike is to Inspiration Point, with outstanding views of the surrounding country, including the other lakes in the area. The Duck Lake hike is also recommended.

This is a popular area on weekends and the campgrounds are often full by Thursday afternoon during the busy season.  There are no reservations, so a traveler arriving later than that risks a lock-out. The ranger station listed keeps close tabs on campsite availability so check with them if you are arriving at a problematic time. Campgrounds empty out Sunday night.

This area gets inundated with snow so watch the weather in the spring and fall to ensure that roads are open. Above Lake Alpine Hwy. 4 over Ebbetts Pass is closed in winter. Bear Valley Ski Area is just south of the lake.

Pine Marten Campground- Lake Alpine

One of the major campgrounds. A short hike/ drive to the lake itself.

Location: Drive 29 miles past Arnold to Lake Alpine, and thence to the northeast end. Entrance right off Hwy. 4.

Attraction: Camping, hiking, boating, fishing.

Campsite Description: 32 sites for tents or RV’s to 27 ft. Picnic tables and fire grills. Boat ramp, grocery store, propane gas and coin laundry nearby.

Season: June thru early October, weather permitting.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $22   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Yes. 10 mph limit
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Yes
Showers No   Elev 7,320 ft.
Toilets Flush   Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Osborne Hill- 2.2 mi. round trip rated easy. Inspiration Point- 2.2 mi. round trip rated moderate. Woodchuck Basin Trail- 3.8 mi. round trip rated moderate. Duck Lake- 2 miles rated easy.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: Tahoe-Yosemite Trail to Clark Fork- 19.8 mile shuttle rated moderate with recommended duration of 3 days.

Silver Valley Campground- Lake Alpine

One of 4 campgrounds on Lake Alpine. Northeast end of lake.

Location: Lake Alpine.

Attraction: Fishing, camping

Campsite Description: 21 sites for tents or RV’s to 16 ft. Picnic tables, fire grills.

Season: June thru October, weather permitting.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $22   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Yes
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Yes
Showers No   Elev 7,400 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Duck Lake- 2 mi.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: Trailhead- Lake Alpine- Silver Valley- 41.5 mile shuttle rated moderate with a recommended duration of 5 days. Tahoe-Yosemite Trail to Clark Fork- 19.8 mile shuttle rated moderate with recommended duration of 3 days.

Lake Alpine Campground- Lake Alpine

The most popular site at Lake Alpine. Walking distance to store. The only campground that is actually right on the lake, which accounts for its popularity. For those craving solitude this would probably not be the campground of choice as sites are relatively small and closely bunched.

Location: Lake Alpine

Attraction: Camping, fishing, hiking

Campsite Description: 25 sites for tents or RV’s to 27 ft. Picnic tables and fire grills. Grocery store, restaurant, coin showers & coin laundry nearby.

Season: June thru October, weather permitting.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $22   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Yes. 10 mph limit
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Yes
Showers Nearby   Elev 7,303 ft.
Toilets flush; pit   Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Duck Lake- 2 mi. from Silver Valley Campground.

Silver Tip Campground- Lake Alpine

One of the four major campgrounds on Lake Alpine. A 1 mile hike to the lake, or short drive. A perfectly acceptable campground with no serious flaws.

Location: On lake Alpine

Attraction: Hiking, fishing, camping, boating

Campsite Description: 23 sites for tents or RV’s to 27 feet. Picnic tables and fire grills.

Season: June thru early October

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $22   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Yes. 10 mph limit
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Yes
Showers Nearby   Elev 7,350 ft.
Toilets Flush   Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Duck Lake- 2 miles round trip rated easy. Inspiration Point- 3.5 mile round trip rated moderate.

Lodgepole Campground

An overflow campground off Hwy. 4 just south of the regular campgrounds at Lake Alpine.

Big Meadow Campground

Provides access to North Fork of Stanislaus River, Lake Alpine, Spicer, Utica and Union  Reservoirs. A convenient location close to both Lake Alpine and Spicer reservoir right on Hwy. 4. Would be a good alternative if the lake campgrounds were full.

Location: On Hwy. 4 just west of Bear Valley. Near Angels Camp drive Hwy. 4 30 miles three miles past Gann's meadows to the campground.

Attraction: Close to Lake Alpine, Spicer, Utica, and Union reservoirs, Summit and Elephant Rock lakes.

Campsite Description: 68 sites for tents or RV’s to 27 ft. Picnic tables and fire grills, vault toilets and drinking water. One group tent site requiring a short walk from your car for up to 50 people.

Season: June thru October, weather permitting.

Reservations: Accepted for individual sites, required for the group site.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $19/50   Fishing yes. River.
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 6,460 ft.
Toilets Pit Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Stanislaus River Campground

Excellent access to North Fork of the Stanislaus River. Kind of a haphazard campground with limited structure. Probably not a first choice for those desiring order. Would be very attractive in the off-season when you were there alone.

Location: From Angels Camp on Hwy 49 turn east on Hwy. 4 and drive 44 miles to Spicer Reservoir Road. Turn right and drive 4 miles to campground on right.

Attraction: Camping, river fishing

Campsite Description: 25 sites for tents or RV’s to 35 ft. No hookups. Fire grills, picnic tables, drinking water and vault toilets. No garbage collection. Supplies in nearby Bear valley

Season: June thru October

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $8   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 6,200 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Elephant Rock Lake- 5.8 mile loop rated easy.

Spicer Reservoir Campground

Small 227 acre reservoir. Good trout fishing. Boat ramp on site. Not the prettiest campground in the area but certainly workable. The boat ramp is first-class, with an adjacent dock.

Location: Drive 32 miles from Angels camp to Spicer Reservoir Road (FR 7NO1). Turn right, drive 7 miles, bear right at fork with sharp right turn, drive 1 mile to campground at west end of lake.

Attraction: Camping, fishing. A small boat is recommended.

Campsite Description: 60 sites for tents or RV’s to 50 ft. Group site for tents or RV's to 28 feet without hookups for up to 60 people Picnic tables, fire grills, vault toilets and drinking water. Boat ramp nearby.

Season: June thru October, weather permitting.

Reservations: None for individual sites, required for the group site at (209) 296-8895.

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $22/140   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Yes. 10 mph limit.
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Yes
Showers No   Elev 6,200 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies No

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Elephant Rock Lake (Hike 49).

Union Reservoir Walk-in Campground

Primitive campground on a beautiful lake. The campground is a short walk from the access road. Despite its lack of amenities it is very popular in-season. The lake is very pretty.

Location: On Union Reservoir 2 miles off the Spicer Reservoir access road via very good gravel road. Walk-in sites close to road. Limited pit toilets. Nearest supplies at Bear Valley or Lake Alpine.

Attraction: Camping, swimming, fishing.

Campsite Description: 15 primitive sites with ill-defined boundaries. Vault toilets but no drinking water or garbage collection.

Season: June thru September, weather permitting.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees No   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Yes. 5 mph limit.
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site Yes
Showers No   Elev 6,850 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies No

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Mosquito Lakes Campground

Pristine lake highly rated for beauty at 8,260 feet. Modest fishing for trout (no stocks). A good spot for those liking solitude. Close to Lake Alpine (6 miles) and other local lakes.

Location: From Lake Alpine drive 6 miles north on Hwy. 4

Attraction: Beauty, limited camping

Campsite Description: 11 sites for tents or RV’s to 16 ft. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire grills and vault toilets. No drinking water or garbage collection. A campfire permit is required.

Season: June thru September, weather permitting.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $5   Fishing Limited
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site Yes
Showers No   Elev 6,800 ft.
Toilets pit   Supplies No

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Bull Run Lake- 7.4 miles round trip rated moderate. Heiser Lake- 4.4 miles round trip rated moderate. Noble Lake- 8.6 miles round trip rated moderate . Upper Kinney Lake- 3.8 miles round trip rated easy.

Backpacking Hikes in Area: Stanislaus Meadow Trailhead- 8 mile shuttle rated leisurely with recommended duration of 3 days.

Bloomfield Campground

Primitive camp near Ebbetts Pass. The North Fork of the Mokelumne River runs past camp with fishing access nearby. The access road continues to Highland Lakes with boating, fishing and trailheads into the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness.

Location: Drive to Lake Alpine on Hwy 4. and continue for 15 miles to Forest Road 8N01, 1.5 miles west of Ebbetts Pass. Turn right and drive 2 miles to campground. Rough access road; trailers not recommended.

Attraction: Primitive site.

Campsite Description: 20 sites for tents or RV’s to 16 ft. No hookups. Picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets and drinking water. No garbage collection.

Season: June thru October, weather permitting

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $8   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 7,800 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies No

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Bull Run Lake- 7.4 miles round trip rated moderate. Heiser Lake- 4.4 miles round trip rated moderate. Noble Lake- 8.6 miles round trip rated moderate. - 3.8 miles round trip rated easy.

Highland Lakes Campground

Remote campground at 8,600 feet nestled between 2 small alpine lakes with limited fishing for native brown trout and access to some nice day hikes. The Pacific Crest Trail is nearby.

Location: Drive 12.7 miles east of Lake Alpine’s East Shore Road, or 1.4 miles west of Ebbetts Pass summit on Hwy. 4 and turn south for Highland Lakes. Drive 5.8 miles up an unpaved rough road; trailers not recommended.

Attraction: Camping at a remote location.

Campsite Description: 35 sites for tents or RV's to 16 feet. No hookups. Drinking water, vault toilets, fire pits and picnic tables are provided. No garbage collection.

Season: June to October.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees $8   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating Yes
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site Nearby
Showers No   Elev 8,600
Toilets Pit   Supplies No

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Day Hikes in Area: Asa Lake (52)- a 4.4 mile round trip rated easy. You can also hike along Disaster and Boulder Creeks.

WA KA LUU HEP YOO Campground

Riverside Forest Service campground providing fishing access to Stanislaus River and a put-in for whitewater rafting. River stocked in this location for rainbow, brook and brown trout. Some preserved artifacts in area. Wheelchair accessible trail.

Location: From the west, drive past Arnold to Dorrington to Boards Crossing Road. Turn right and drive 4 miles to campground (just before bridge crossing Stanislaus River).

Attraction: Camping, fishing, rafting.

Campsite Description: 49 sites for tents or RV’s to 50 ft. No hookups. Four walk-in sites. Picnic tables, fire grills, drinking water, vault toilets as well as restrooms with flush toilets and showers. Some facilities with wheelchair access. Campfire permits are required.

Season: Memorial Day weekend thru October, weather permitting.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access Yes
Fees $20   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water Yes   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 3,900 ft.
Toilets Flush   Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381.

Sand Flat Four-Wheel Drive Camp

Rough, steep road to a site on the North Fork of Stanislaus River with fishing for small trout. No trailers allowed.

Location: Take Hwy. 4 from Angels camp 25 miles to point .5 miles past Big Meadows. Dirt road to right. Drive 2 miles on rough access road.

Attraction: Fishing, 4 wheel driving.

Campsite Description: 10 tent sites with picnic tables and fire rings. No drinking water or garbage collection.

Season: June thru October, weather permitting

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees No   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 5,900 ft.
Toilets pit   Supplies Nearby

Information: Stanislaus National Forest, Calaveras Ranger District- 209-795-1381

Off-Road Opportunities in Area:

Deer Valley- 6.6 mile trip rated difficult. Start at Hermit Valley Campground on Hwy. 4 north of Lake Alpine.

Corral Hollow- 13.9 mile trip rated moderate. Drive east on Hwy. 4 and turn north just after sign for Alpine County line about .6 miles before Bear Valley. Trail marked 7A, partially obscured.

Slickrock Trail- 5.2 mile trip rated difficult. Take Hwy. 4 to Lake Alpine north of Bear Valley. Turn right at west end of lake following signs to Lake Alpine C.G. Head south and stay to right when roads branch left. When bike trail goes right, go left. Bear right at blue cabin then right again at private drive. Follow narrow road to well-marked trailhead .7 miles from Hwy. 4.

Crandall Peak Trail (Northern Sierra #5)- 28.8 mile trip rated moderate. Can be started at Parrots Ferry Road (CR E18) 1 mile southeast of Hwy. 4. Access to Stanislaus River at two points. Forest Service campground beside river. Provides backcountry access to Sand Bar Flat Campground, Fraser Flat  Campground and Beardsley Lake.

Black Springs Route (Northern Sierra #8)- 18.4 miles rated moderate (four) providing access to Calaveras Dome Trail, Mattley Ridge Trail and Corral Hollow OHV Route..Starts on Hwy. 4 3.5 miles north of Dorrington.

Calaveras Dome Trail (Northern Sierra #9)- 42 mile plus spurs rated easy-moderate (two) starting at Hwy. 4 6.7 miles southwest of Bear Valley. Provides fishing access, camping and swimming on North Fork of Mokelumne River. Rock climbing at Calaveras Dome. Eastern trailhead off Hwy. 4 close to Bog Meadow Campground. Provides access to Corral Hollow OHV Trail, Mattley Ridge Trail, Calaveras Dome, Moore Creek Campground, Mokelumne River Campground, White Azalea campground, Salt Springs Reservoir and other unnamed campgrounds.

Corral Hollow OHV Route (Northern Sierra #10)- 12.5 miles rated high moderate (five). Starts at Hwy. 4 .6 miles southwest of Bear valley. Provides access to historic Bear Trap Cabin.

Mattley Ridge Trail (Northern Sierra #11)- 5 mile trip rated moderate (four).

References: Backcountry Adventures: Northern California by Massey and Wilson.

White Azalea Campground

One of three primitive and remote camps on the North Fork of the Mokolumne River. The other are Moore Creek Campground and Mokelumne Campground. Road not recommended for trailers or RV’s.

Location: Take Hwy. 88 thru Jackson 18 miles past Pioneer to Ellis Road/ Forest Road 92 and turnoff for Lumberyard Campground. Take Ellis Road 12 miles to Salt Springs Road (FR 9). Turn left and continue 3 miles to campground.

Attraction: Remote location with fair fishing.

Campsite Description: 6 tent sites with pit toilets only.

Season: Year-round

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees No   Fishing Yes. River.
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 3,500 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies No

Information: Eldorado National Forest, Amador Ranger District, 209-295-4251

Moore Creek Campground

One of three primitive and remote camps on the North Fork of the Mokolumne River. The other are White Azalea Campground and Mokelumne Campground. Road not recommended for trailers or RV’s.

Location: Same as White Azalea but turn right on Salt Springs Road and continue for 2.5 miles.

Attraction: Remote site.

Campsite Description: 8 tent sites with picnic tables and vault toilets only.

Season: Year round

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees No   Fishing Yes. River.
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 3,200 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies No

Information: Eldorado National Forest, Amador Ranger District, 209-295-4251

Mokelumne Campground

One of three primitive and remote camps on the North Fork of the Mokelumne River. The other are White Azalea Campground and Moore Creek Campground. Road not recommended for trailers or RV’s.

Location: North Fork, Mokolumne River.

Attraction: Remote site. Fishing.

Campsite Description: 13 sites for tents with vault toilets and picnic tables only.

Season: Year-round, weather permitting.

Reservations: No

Public/private Public   Wheelchair Access No
Fees No   Fishing Yes
Hook-ups No   Boating No
Drinking Water No   Lake on Site No
Showers No   Elev 3,200 ft.
Toilets Pit   Supplies No

Information: Eldorado National Forest, Amador Ranger District, 209-295-4251

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