Summer may be just starting according to the calendar, but it’s been a warm June so far and those in the know are spending their free time on the water. We prize our lakes and rivers here in Calaveras and thought you might like an update on the state of the lakes, given all of the drought related stories in circulation.
You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s little water in these reservoirs, especially if you’re comparing them to the abundant high water marks of years past. But these are huge bodies of water and there are thousands of acres of lake surface to play on in all corners of the county. So check out the listings below and make plans to keep cool and wet this summer as we continue to make the most of Calaveras County lake recreation.
Earlier this year, several news stories covered the possible draining of Lake Tulloch, which stores water for Central Valley irrigation as well as provides a lakeside way of life for visitors and residents of Copperopolis. Luckily, that did not happen and the lake is currently full! With over 55 miles of shoreline and secluded coves to explore, you’ll catch views of volcanic Table Mountain, beautiful Valley Oak trees and discover some of the best waterskiing around. Lake Tulloch Campground and Marina will provide the amenities you need for camping, boating and provisions for a great day on the water.
Camping from $23 nightly; Cabins from $100 nightly
For reservations: www.laketullochcampground.com or 800-894-2267
With over 3500 surface acres and water temperatures in the mid 70s, Lake Camanche is a short drive from the Central Valley and a favorite for party boaters and fishing. It’s known for great bass fishing, and is stocked every year with both trout and bass. There’s a $5 per day access fee for fishing and standard state fishing licenses are required. Click here for fishing updates. Note to boaters – upon entry to Camanche, boat inspections are in effect for invasive mussel species.
Camping from $28 night / $150 week; Cottages from $170 night / $800 week
More info: www.camancherecreation.com (209) 763-5912.
Currently checking at about 90% full, Pardee Recreation Area will be closing July 10 this year due to a large construction project, but RV hookups and campsites, as well as decent fishing is available until July 10. The park will reopen in early 2016. Find fishing reports, camping and boat launch information at www.pardeelakerecreation.com or 209-772-1472.
Salt Spring Reservoir
Located at the west end of the county near Copperopolis, some consider Salt Spring to be their “secret” fishing spot. With an easy boat launch and plenty of water, you should have no problem hooking Bass, Crappie, Catfish, Red Ear Perch and Bluegill. Camping is available for $20 nightly, Day use is $10. Check out the Salt Spring Valley Reservoir for more details or call 209-785-7877
New Hogan Lake
Built in 1964 on the Calaveras River just outside of Valley Springs, New Hogan Lake offers 177 campsites – all of which are currently open, as well as several day use and picnic areas. Most day use areas including recreational trails around the lake are free. There are also now two disc golf courses. Camping is available from $14 nightly; Click here for reservations.
The Fiddleneck Recreation Area and boat launch ($4 day use fee) offers lifejackets to borrow for the day, all sizes are available. At this time, no marina services are available, so remember to pack in your own fuel and supplies. You can buy an annual pass for $30, or New Hogan Lake honors three of the America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Passes: the Interagency Senior, Interagency Access and Interagency Military passes. Visit the New Hogan Lake website for details.
New Melones Lake
There are a few great things at New Melones Lake to be aware of this summer. The new marina which is located in the Glory Hole Recreation area, has been brought back to life with new ownership and offers full service, including boat and slip rentals, groceries, gas and boating accessories. Glory Hole Sports, at Highway 49 and the park entrance, is where you’ll find a huge selection of fishing gear, bait and friendly staff. Their website is a great resource for up to date fishing reports and lake conditions. The lake is currently holding 431, 534 acre-feet of water and is in the mid 70’s. Boaters should be aware that the Glory Hole boat launch is a dirt road and is best advised with a four wheel drive vehicle.
This summer at New Melones the Bureau of Reclamation (the lake’s managing agency) has a fun line up of free activities and interpretive programs scheduled for the whole family to learn about the area’s history and habitat. All activities are at the Ampitheater at the Glory Hole Recreation area. Click here for the calendar.
Campgrounds are open and available from $22 nightly; Click here for reservations and lake info.
Late spring storms brought much needed rain and snow to the High Sierra and have left most of the upcountry reservoirs with a generous amount of water. Mild daytime temperatures and crisp cool lake waters make these ideal spots to visit when the heat starts to rise in the lower foothills.
While there’s no camping at White Pines Lake, this little gem just outside the town of Arnold is a perfect spot to take the kids on a hot day, with a shaded picnic area and extensive play structure, as well as a nice sunny beach with a shallow wading area. Need to rent kayaks or paddleboards? Head over to SNAC and they’ll fix you up. Be sure to load up on picnic supplies at Big Trees Market in Arnold before heading out. Make it a day long outing with a hike or bike ride on the nearby Arnold Rim Trail and a visit to the fabulous Sierra Nevada Logging Museum, just a short walk from the lakeshore.
No question this is one of the most picturesque places to spend a summer day, take the four-mile trail around the lake, much of which is wheelchair accessible or opt for a more strenuous hike to Inspiration Point, overlooking the lake and surrounding wilderness. There are four campgrounds on Lake Alpine, as well as a restaurant, bar and general store. Rent a kayak or check out the free interpretive programs by local forest rangers. Lake levels are currently good for all forms of recreation. Located 60 miles east of Angels Camp on Highway 4, 3 miles east of the town of Bear Valley. Go to the Lake Alpine Resort’s website for information on boat, kayak and paddle board rentals.
Spicer, Union and Utica Reservoirs
About four miles west of Bear Valley on Highway 4 is Spicer Reservoir Road, which will take you 9 miles down to this trio of granite lined lakes. Surrounded by National Forest and the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, this region has limitless possibilities for hiking and exploring. Spicer is the largest of the three but is currently quite low, making boat launching difficult, though Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods reports excellent fishing if you are able to launch.
Utica and Union Reservoirs are both at normal water levels and they’re a favorite fishing and non motorized boating, with many rocky islands that offer a unique boat-in camping opportunity. Spicer has piped water available, while you’ll need to pack in the H2O at Utica and Union.
More info: Camping and recreation