Trails in Northern California

Trails in Northern California

Leave No Trace!

Visit for more information about Desolation Wilderness. Visit or call 1- 877-444-6777 to make park reservations. Visit Campfire Permits to get a permit online. More about Leave No Trace principles.

July 23, 2013

Sugar Pine Reservoir: Hikes, Fishing, Boating, Camping, Swimming...

Beautiful views, an easy drive, forested, and at higher elevation for a cooler temperature. Perfect for a family day on the water.  Equestrian trails too.

Located 15 miles northeast of Foresthill.

Perfect.  There are four main recreation areas around the lake, including the boat ramp, campgrounds, a picnic area, and a swimming beach.  There are numerous places to swim and hang out which you can get to by trail or boats, kayaks, and rafts.  I found two rope swings near each other. Most of the facilities are wheelchair accessible.  Boats are limited to ten miles per hour.
One entrance.  The trail beyond this is excellent ~ don't worry!  There are other places to park and get to the lake, too. 

One of the things I enjoyed was how quickly some places along the lakeside have a drop off so I could get submerged at once rather than wade in slowly and painfully! If you prefer the gradual, beach-like spots, they are all around the lake too.

The trail is shady, making your hike more pleasant, then you can choose some sunny spot to hang out if you prefer.  I had few bugs or mosquitos bother me.  At 3500 feet elevation, this makes a great escape from the valley heat!

 For your inner tarzan! 
 Rope swings were popular this weekend.

 Fishing for warm and cold water species is good.  The boat ramp (with a large parking and restroom)is located on the southeast side of the lake.  I parked on the southwest side where there is also ample parking, no restroom, that is located along Sugar Pine Road before it becomes Iowa Hill Road.

 Several campgrounds are walking distance from the lake, as well as day use parking with the advantages of picnic tables and bathrooms.  Manzanita Day Use Area fills up on hot days.  There are also biking and horseback riding trails available, and OHV areas are open in Tahoe National Forest.

 Family and group sized spots were available when I drove through Shirttail Campground on Saturday, but I would always recommend trying for reservations.

 As I left, I made the decision to follow the "primitive road", Iowa Hill Road to Colfax, rather than retrace my longer drive up through Foresthill.  The views were a pleasure, if you don't mind driving along a mountainside with steep canyon walls descending father down than the eye could see along one side!

Before long I entered the fee area (laughably) since behind this sign is a wide turnout without so much as a garbage can!  However, there are some excellent recreation sites and campgrounds in Tahoe National Forest.
   For campgrounds and fees, click here.

 Hairpin turns on this "primitive" route too.  As you can see, the term means narrower, and curvy, but not dirt or for four wheelers.  The pavement was well maintained.

 As you reach the North Fork of the American River, there are day use spaces (fees apply) and a campground available near the river.  Not far back up the hill from here is the parking for another favorite hike called Windy Point Trail.

On my way to town, I couldn't resist stopping in a non-fee area to pick blackberries.  They are delights, each and every one!  More flavorful than any you find in stores or fruit stands!

Almost everything here fits into "Easy" ratings, although the day use beach and near the boat ramp are best with small children.
To find your way, a map is provided here.

 Happy Trails!  See Trails By Locations for more ideas!

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