NorCal Roadtrips

An Explorer's Guide to Northern California

Highway 88- Things To Do

Hiking near Silver lake

Camping

There are two ways to locate a campground. Option 1 is to click on a highlighted link on the itinerary page (occasionally elsewhere) for a write-up on that lake or park, which will include camping options. Option 2 is to click on the Campground link. This page lists campgrounds that are not located at a lake or park.

Fishing & Boating

Virtually all of the lakes listed here offer both boating and fishing opportunities. The larger lakes at lower elevations like Camanche and Pardee will accommodate larger boats with more robust motors, and the fishing tends to favor warm water species like bass, catfish and crappie. But stocked rainbow trout are common even in those lakes. And even alpine lakes like Silver Lake allow waterskiing. Our lake write-ups will describe the options and opportunities at each lake we cover.

Off-Road

The best guide to 4-wheel drive trails is Backcountry Adventures: Northern California by Massey & Wilson. They provide turn-by-turn directions as well as descriptions of what you will encounter and a history lesson as well.

Red & Blue Lakes Trail- starting at Hwy. 88 at the eastern end of Red Lake this recommended 4WD road leads to Upper and Lower Blue Lakes, with a side trip to Twin and Meadow Lakes. It ends at Blue Lakes Road, which connects with Hwy 88.

Baltic Ridge Trail- Starting at Mormon Emigrant Trail (FR 5), 2.7 miles west of Hwy. 88, this 15.6 mile unpaved road traverses part of the Eldorado National Forest. There are no lakes or rivers along the way.

Backpacking

In our opinion the print publication Sierra North is a definitive guide to backpacking this region. If all you want to do is drive to the trailhead and take the hike go right to that publication and enjoy. If your desire runs more to establishing a base camp at a place other than a trailhead parking lot and hiking out of that, we may be able to help.

Sierra North lists five trailheads along the Hwy. 88 corridor. We will show you where you may wish to consider a base camp for each, and note other things you may wish to do while in the area. Management falls to Eldorado National Forest, 100 Forni Road, Placerville 530-644-6048. call for info. about required permits, etc. This is not a trail guide: buy Sierra North. The recommended duration in days includes both hiking time and layover days.

Trailhead- Silver Lake- Granite Lake. Near the north end of Silver Lake past Kit Carson Resort, 1.4 miles from Hwy. 88.

Recommended Base Camp- Silver Lake East, Silver Lake West

Hike- Long Lake. An 18 mile round trip rated moderate with a recommended duration of 3 days.

Trailhead- Thunder Mountain. Thunder Mountain Loop trailhead on Hwy. 88 3.25 miles east of Silver Lake & 1.75 miles west of the Kirkwood Meadows junction.

Recommended Base Camp- Silver Lake East, Silver Lake West

Hike- Scout Carson Lake- A 13 mile round trip rated leisurely with a recommended duration of 3 days.

Hike-Summit City Canyon- A 22 mile round trip rated leisurely with a recommended duration of 5 days.

Hike- Mokelumne River- A 33 mile round trip rated strenuous with a recommended duration of 7 days.

Hike- Silver Lake-Granite Lake Trailhead- A 32 mile round trip (shuttle) rated strenuous encompassing the above destinations. Recommended duration 6 days.

Trailhead- Woods Lake- Off Woods Lake access road from Hwy. 88.

Recommended Base Camp- Woods Lake Campground.

Hike- Round Top Lake- A 5 mile round trip rated leisurely with a recommended duration of 2 days. Could easily be a day hike as well.

Trailhead- Carson Pass West- .3 miles west of Carson Pass. Also known as Meiss Meadow Trailhead.

Recommended Base Camp- Kirkwood Lake campground.

Hike- Showers Lake. 10.2 mile round trip rated moderate with a recommended duration of 3 days.

Hike- Echo Summit Trailhead- 13.4 mile round trip rated moderate with a recommended duration of 3 days.

Trailhead- Carson Pass East- Right at Carson Pass on Hwy. 88. Carson Pass information Station also there.

Recommended Base Camp- Kirkwood Lake Campground.

Hike- Fourth of July Lake. 14 miles round trip rated moderate with a recommended duration of 3 days.

Hike- Tahoe-Yosemite Trail- 26.6 mile shuttle trip rated strenuous with a recommended duration of 5 days.

Trailhead- Upper Blue Lake- Granite Lake- 6.3 miles east of Carson Pass leave Hwy 88 and drive south on Blue lakes Road, 10.3 miles from Hwy 88. Continue for 1 mile; turn right at Mokelumne Hydro project. Proceed past Middle Blue Lake to parking area just below the spillway of Upper Blue Lake.

Recommended base Camp- Middle Creek Campground.

Hike- Grouse Lake- 12 mile round trip rated leisurely with a recommended duration of 3 days.

Day Hikes

In our view the best day-hiking guide to this area is Best Short Hikes in California's North Sierra. Buy a copy to get a detailed description of the hike. Also buy a topo map, a compass and a whistle.

Devils Lake. 2.2 miles round trip rated easy with 500 foot elevation gain. Have a picnic. Shriner Lake. 4.2 miles round trip rated easy with a 420 foot elevation gain. Have a picnic. Shealor Lake. 2.8 miles round trip rated easy with a 840 foot elevation gain. Swim, picnic, camp. Granite Lake. 4 miles round trip rated moderate with a 600 foot elevation gain. Swim & picnic. Lake Margaret. 5 mile round trip rated easy with a 590 foot elevation gain. Fish, picnic, camp. Emigrant Lake. 8 miles round trip rated moderate with an 800 foot elevation gain. Fish, picnic. Round Top. 6.4 mile loop with an 2,170 foot elevation gain rated strenuous. Shortcut: Winnemucca Lake at 1.6 miles. Topo map recommended. Meiss Lake. 8 mile round trip with an 880 foot elevation gain rated moderate. Part of Pacific Crest Trail. Busy on weekends. Stocked with cutthroat trout.

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