The Sierra, 500 miles of a visual spender and recreational nirvana, is almost too large to comprehend for the weekend warrior or once-a-year traveler. As summer comes into focus in 2023, winter leaves a rather odd feeling in my gut regarding what is left to discover. I have been exploring the Sierra for over 12 years and writing about my adventures for over nine years. Yet daily on social media or through various blogs I follow, I am reminded that I have barely scratched the surface of what there is to explore and discover.
I was once told there are over 4000 lakes in the Sierra. But, unfortunately, I have only visited maybe 200 of them. This summer I will make my first-ever visit to the southern Sierra, and I am so excited about what I might discover. These facts have led me to this question: What are my favorite recreational corridors of the Sierra? Besides Yosemite, which is my obvious #1 or Lake Tahoe, which is obvious, where do I head when it is time for a bit of discovery in my week?
Three Great Recreation Corridors for Summer Discovery in the Sierra
Bridgeport to June Lake
Our favorite recreation section in the Sierra can be accessed via HWY 395 between Bridgeport and June Lake, California. To be fare, this section has the Tioga pass attached, which is our favorite recreation area, period. But besides Yosemite and Tioga, this area has incredible hiking, camping, fishing, and Ohv experiences, plus one of the best Fourth of July celebrations in the West.
In this corridor or travel and recreation, you will find us hiking to stunning mountain lakes on many great trails. These trailheads all merit significant consideration if you are visiting this area:
- Robinson Creek / Barney Lake Trail
- Green Creek Trail
- Virginia Canyon Trail
- Parker Lake Trail
- 20 Lakes Basin
This area also has excellent OHV activities and lots of open space for recreation East of the highway, generally speaking, is all open public land.
Summertime in this area also provides you with multiple options for food that are incredible experiences. Our personal favorites include Mono Cone in Lee Vining, the Barn in Bridgeport and June Lake Brewing in June Lake
Markleville to Arnold – Ebbett’s Pass
Highway 4 over Ebbett’s pass and through the high country of Bear Valley is just a pure adrenaline fest for the senses. The high country off Ebbetts pass is second only to Yosemite, ( in my humble opinion) for breathtaking scenic value while exploring. Hiking, Biking, Boating, camping etc.. Just go.
There is so much to see and do. Direct access to the PCT trail , Fishing Mosquitos Lakes, Camping fishing & Kayaking at Alpine Lake or Leser, visited Utica or Union reservoirs.
Plus on the west side, you have all the glory of Calaveras Big Tree State Park and the giant sequoia trees. The Wild and Scenic Stanislaus River and Mokelumne rivers also feather great spots to enjoy.
Some of Our personal favorites include:
- Hiking Wolf Creek and Carson Iceberg Wilderness
- Hiking / Backpacking the Pct to Kinney Lakes
- Kayaking Utica reservoir
- Hanging a Hammock on the Mokelumne River or Pacific Creek just below Mosquito Lakes in the Hermit Valley
- Fishing roadside Mosquito Lakes
- Fall color drive up Ebbetts pass.
The Truckee / Downieville / Quincy Triangle
This triangle of recreational nirvana is the stuff that people lose their minds over. If you like trees, and lots of water with elevation changes and plenty of wildlife, this corridor is for you. I now call this area the Sierra Connected Communities Corridor thanks to the trail visions of the Lost Sierra and Truckee communities that have transformed this region into a mountain bikers paradise.
Surprisingly, it is only in the last few years that I started revisiting this area, after many visits with my parents as a kid on the Yuba River. The Gold Lake Highway out of Greagle is packed full of water recreation and hiking opportunities. The Yuba and Feather Rivers provide exciting fishing, gold panning, and rafting opportunities. And the Sierraville to Truckee section in the Tahoe National Forest is perfectly made for disappearing into the mountain life.
Our Personal Favorites include:
- Hiking the Sierra Buttes region and Gold Lake highway trails
- Hanging out at Lake Davis for the day, fishing with Bald Eagles and enjoying the large pines.
- Afternoon stops at the Brewers Lair – trust me, look it up. It is a magical place hidden in the woods that begs to be discovered.
- Bucks Lake Wilderness out of Quincy is always fun to explore
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