Highland Lakes – Stanislaus National Forest

Camping, Fishing and Hiking Highland Lakes off HWY 4

The lakes are set in a spectacular high alpine valley, close to the top of Ebbetts Pass at an elevation of 8,600 feet. These two lakes are unique in that they are headwaters for two different watersheds: the eastern lake flows into the Mokelumne River drainage, while the western lake flows into the Stanislaus River drainage. Maximum boat speed on both lakes is 5 mph, and gas powered motors are discouraged. Highland Lakes visitors enjoy camping, hiking and horseback riding. 


Highland Lakes Campground is located at the end of Highland Lakes Road, 5.6 miles off Highway 4. Highland Lakes Road is a narrow, steep and winding dirt route where safe travel speeds average 20 mph or less.
General Notes:

No garbage service or dumpster; Pack it in, Pack it out.

Campground Camping

High country lake at 8200 feet. 35 sites.

No. of Sites35
Reservation Infofirst-come, first-served

Highland Lakes Campground is situated right beside the lakes, making a convenient place to set up your tent or park your RV. Four miles back on the road is Bloomfield Campground. Many people opt for “dispersed camping” along the road. You can find more campsites farther down Highway 4 on either side of the pass.

Open shorelines offer good fly fishing and spin casting. Float tubes work well on the lakes except when the wind comes up.

-Highland Lakes are probably best fished late in the summer when mosquitoes have abated.

Highland Creek trail

This trail follows Highland Creek canyon down to Hiram Meadow and can be used to hike all the way to the northeast end of Spicer Reservoir; it continues to Rock Lake, Duck Lake, and ends at the Silver Valley Trailhead at the east end of Lake Alpine. It also connects with trails to Elephant Rock Lake and Union Reservoir.

Elevation: 8635 feet.
Lat/Long: 38.4850, -119.8099

Garden Meadow Trail

This trail first passes through Bear Tree Meadow.  In .8 miles from the trailhead the trail enters the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. A few yards (meters) later, a trail branches off to the right and loops back towards Lower highland. Branch Left for a 4 mile out and back trail good for all hiking levels.

Tryon Meadow Trailhead

This trail provides access to Milk Ranch Meadow, the southeastern side of Peep Sight Peak, Pacific Valley, and the northern end of Spicer Reservoir.

Milk Ranch Meadow via Tyrone Meadows Trail is a 5.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail. This is an easy hike near Highland Lakes.  The trailhead is just before the Tyrone Meadows cow camp and is marked by a sign and parking area.  The trail shows very little evidence of use and in some areas, especially once it gets to the Upper Gardner Meadow, becomes hard to follow, but this is open country so it is not hard to find a way to go.  The route generally contours along the shoulder of the mountain, crossing creeks and meadows, with great views of the surrounding mountains.

Elevation: 8445 feet.

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