Highway 4- Angels Camp to Lake Alpine & Environs
California Highway 4 was named for Major John Ebbetts, who in 1853 set out to plot a railway route across the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It never happened here, but a stage route was established in 1864 to serve the mining town of Silver City. Today, Hwy. 4 has its western terminus where it meets Interstate 80 near Hercules. On the eastern front, it terminates where it meets Hwy. 89 just south of Markleeville. It isn’t until it passes through Stockton enroute to Angels Camp and points east that it begins to interest the inveterate traveler.
Just east of historic Angels Camp and Murphy’s lies one of the major outdoor draws in the region, the Calaveras Big Trees State Park. It is known for its two significant groves of giant sequoia. A short detour of about 5 miles off Highway 4 takes you to Columbia State Historic Park, a partially restored historic mining town well worth a visit. As one continues north past the village of Arnold for about 25 miles you enter one of the better recreation destinations in Northern California, Lake Alpine and its nearby lakes. Lake Alpine is probably the primary draw for many travelers. Although man-made, unlike many reservoirs it was created to provide water to the mining industry, not for drinking water. It and its neighbors are rarely drawn down significantly, making them perpetually scenic. Lake Alpine has several campgrounds with flush toilets, fishing for stocked rainbow trout, low-speed boating and lots of kayaking. Within an easy commute are several other pristine lakes with fewer amenities but equally impressive views. Past the lake one begins the ascent over Ebbetts Pass, a don't miss drive, except in winter when the pass is closed. Read on.
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