Some of my favorite lakes
- Lakes with boat ramps: California has 195 recreation lakes with boat ramps. Most are set in the foothills of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys, as well as in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and Shasta-Siskiyou ranges. Virtually all have campgrounds, fishing and nearby hiking or biking Here are the prettiest: 1. Lake Tahoe at Emerald Bay; 2. Sardine Lake, Graeagle; 3. Donner Lake, Truckee; 4. Convict Lake, Inyo County; 5. Lake Siskiyou, Mount Shasta. Others of note: Best boating: Shasta Lake, Redding; best fishing: Barrett Lake, San Diego; best camping: French Meadows, Tahoe National Forest.
- Lakes you can reach by vehicle without boat ramps: California has 190 small lakes that you can reach with an SUV with 4-wheel-drive or car with high clearance. With a canoe, kayak or inner tube, you can create your own paradise at many of them. Many have campsites. Here are the prettiest: 1. Tenaya Lake, Yosemite National Park; 2. Faucherie Lake, Tahoe National Forest; 3. Castle Lake, Shasta-Trinity National Forest; 4. Gerle Creek Reservoir, Eldorado National Forest; 5. Tamarack Lake, Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Note: Many of these 190 can provide outstanding car-top boating, camping and fishing, and dozens are set near trailheads.
- Lake in wilderness: California has roughly 800 wilderness lakes large enough to provide habitat for trout, and of these, about half provide lakeside campsites, good fishing and stellar destinations. These are sprinkled across about 60 major wilderness areas. Here are the prettiest: 1. Rae Lakes, John Muir Trail, Kings Canyon National Park; 2. Marie Lake, John Muir Trail, Selden Pass; 3. Kearsage Lakes, Inyo National Forest out of Independence; 3. Spirit Lake, Marble Mountain Wilderness; 5. Velma Lake, Desolation Wilderness.
Never get stuck again for a camp: The 2013 edition of Moon California Camping.
What sets you free? Hike. Bike. Camp. Fish. Boat. Wildlife watch. Explore.