I didn't have a car during my first year of college. When it came time to go home for the summer, my dad drove down to Southern California to pick me up. Instead of going straight home, we set off toward the desert to begin a road trip up U.S. 395 along the eastern slope of the Sierra.
It's hard to avoid making comparisons between the most beautiful places I've ever seen and the visual world created by Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings films. One particular part of that world -- the arid hills and jagged mountains of Rohan -- reminds me of one of my favorite places in California.
One of my favorite "new places" of 2012 is Montaña de Oro State Park near Morro Bay. You know you've found a great spot when you've made two trips within two months and have plans to go back.
The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional urban park district in the United States. It operates over 100,000 acres of parkland throughout Alameda and Contra Costa Counties crisscrossed by over 1,150 miles of trails. Thats an area about 1/8 the size of Yosemite National Park, but 350 more miles of trail.
Based on the popularity of the "road guides" to the Ebbetts and Carson passes that I wrote earlier this summer, here's a guide to another great route -- Sonora Pass. If you're looking for something to do over Labor Day Weekend, Highway 108 over 9,624-foot Sonora Pass is a great choice. It's also a gateway to stunning fall colors in late October.
I finished this summer with a 45-mile backpacking trip that I'd been eying for a long time. A buddy and I hiked from Kennedy Meadows through the Emigrant Wilderness and the western edge of Yosemite to Cherry Lake. As Yosemite's lesser-known northwestern neighbor, the Emigrant Wilderness has similarly breath-taking scenery. The only major difference is the addition of picturesque volcanic ridges, especially in the eastern section.
Last week we ended our journey along the Generals Highway where it enters Sequoia National Park. The highway got its name because it connects the Grant Grove and its namesake Grant Tree to Sequoia National Park's Giant Forest and the General Sherman Tree. The Sherman Tree is the largest living sequoia and the Grant Tree is the third largest.
KINGS CANYON Yosemite is by far the best-known national park in California. Close to home, but often overshadowed, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are the other national parks in the Sierra Nevada. Although technically two separate parks, they are adjacent to each other and managed as a single unit.
I get excited when I find a few bucks in a pair of pants I haven't worn for a long time. Finding money you didn't know you had is always a good surprise. Unless, of course, you're California's Department of Parks and Recreation.
Last weekend I backpacked in the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness, east of Fresno. The name doesn't do the area justice. The lakes were named for a dog named "Dinkey" who saved his master from an angry grizzly bear. He didn't deserve his name, either.
Just a few miles south of Lake Tahoe, Highway 88 is a two-lane, all-year highway that crosses the Sierra Nevada on a route used by the Washoe Indians for many centuries. Although the route is more popular than Ebbetts Pass, it receives fewer visitors than the area directly around Lake Tahoe. If you spend the night near the top of Carson Pass and the junction with Highway 89, Tahoe is within easy driving distance.
If you're looking for a great Sierra experience that is "off the beaten track," try Highway 4, also known as the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway.
The heat of summer has arrived and it's time to start thinking about places to escape it. "Summer Vacation" offers many simple pleasures but after enough 100 degree days it's easy to start dreaming about a "vacation from summer."
A few weeks ago I suggested some great camp-grounds where you can set up your tent and hit the trail with you four-footed friends without having to get behind the wheel.I want to add a few that didn't make the list either because you might have to drive a few miles to hike, dogs aren't welcome, or both. Nevertheless, they are some of my favorite camping spots, and they're close enough for an easy summer get-away.
As the July 1 deadline draws near many groups are frantically working to keep state parks from closing. Despite a hard fought effort, Mariposa's Mining and Mineral Museum will be closing in just a couple of weeks.
About 2½ hours from home, Sonora Pass is a gateway to another world. From Sonora to Kennedy Meadows, Highway 108 climbs through pines and meadows, sometimes following the channel of the Stanislaus River through steep granite.
California's annual budget crisis appears to be over for this year, but there is no doubt that it will return next year. One of the sacrifices made to achieve a balanced ledger sheet is the closure of 70 of the state's 278 state parks.
For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of a three-day weekend, which falls at the end of a of a hot week. If cooling off in the water sounds appealing, here's some nearby places where you can enjoy the water.
As the weather continues to change, I'd like to provide some updates on outdoor activities in our area: