NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Highway 4 Itinerary

Columbia State Historic Park

Columbia State Historic Park

Leaving Stockton behind, before one gets to Copperopolis one could detour slightly to the south on Milton Road to Woodward Reservoir. A little further along, a left turn on Rock Creek Road will lead north to Salt Springs Reservoir. At Copperopolis its a short ride to Tulloch Reservoir. Now you're in historic Angels Camp, with easy access to New Melones Reservoir and Recreation Area. A short detour takes you to Columbia State Historic Park, well worth a visit; in addition to its history is still functions as a real town. The historic gold mining town of Murphys is also worth a visit, and if you are not camping you may wish to spend a night there. Then its on to Arnold, where you will want to stock up on provisions and fishing gear because from here on most everything you buy will come in a can. But that's the way its supposed to be.

Calaveras Bib Trees State ParkJust past Arnold comes a must-stop, Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Here you can hike (South Grove is a must) and camp in a nice park in a great area. From there you will make the climb to Lake Alpine and her many sister lakes. If you are a fan of camping, boating or fishing in pristine alpine lakes you are in for a treat.

The Lake Alpine area is ideal for many travelers. Alpine itself is the hub. It is pretty, surrounded by forest, unlikely to be drawn down to any significant degree, offers excellent boating to a wide range of tastes (from waterskiing to float tubes) has small resorts and facilities so you can replenish some food or do the laundry, and is great for swimming or fishing for stocked rainbow trout. On the water you will see an occasional water-skier, but aluminum fishing boats and kayaks predominate. The campgrounds are in heavily wooded areas and nicely separated. But a real plus is its proximity to other pretty lakes. Drive south a few miles and you can fish, boat, camp, swim or picnic at Spicer Reservoir. You'll see sailboats too, and a very classy boat ramp and dock. On the way there you will pass Union & Utica Reservoirs, both remote lakes where you need to carry everything in, and out.

If you're traveling in warm weather you must continue on over Ebbetts Pass down to Markleeville. To call this a pretty drive probably understates the case. You'll pass pretty Mosquito Lake (bad fishing) and one of those secret gems, Woods Lake. The latter is very special with a nicely situated national forest campground; at a minimum stop for lunch and if you're a camper plot your return. Then its on to the hamlet of Markleeville and Grover Hot Springs State Park. If you want a change of scenery on the return home you can continue past Markleeville to Hwy. 88 and return that way over Carson Pass, which is far faster with fewer turns in the road. But it's still pretty. Click our link for the Hwy. 88 Road Trip for more info.

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