The Central Sierra: Big Trees, Dinkey Lakes

Sunset, June 1991 | Go to article overview

The Central Sierra: Big Trees, Dinkey Lakes


The central Sierra: big trees, Dinkey Lakes It's the calm lap of lake water against a canoe, the crunch of pipe needles underfoot, and the squawk of a Steller's jay. Grocery stores stock white gas and night crawlers, T-bone steak reigns as king of the restaurant menu, and you're never more than 10-minute hike from some heart-tugging view of granite peaks.

This is summer in the central Sierra Nevada Compared with Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon natioanl parks next door, the region doesn't get much attention. Even at popular Bass, Shaver, and Huntington lakes, you should be able to reserve a cabin, campsite, or pack trip saddle for a few days, if you're flexible about dates. And thanks to March's snow-storms, the lakes should be fuller than they've been in years.

We've divided the region into two tours: one centered on Bass Lake, the second on Shaver and Huntington.

Bass Lake, big rocks,

big view, big trees

Bass Lake's shores are dotted with resorts that range from glossy to rustic (see box), while the lake's waters hold salmon, trout, swimmers, and water-skiers.

North Fork, 10 miles south, deserves a visit. At the junction of roads 225 and 228, you can see the Sierra Mono Museum's displays of basketry and beadwork. Hours are 9 to 4 Mondays through Saturdays; admission is $1.50.

North Fork is also the start of the Forest Service's new Sierra Vista Scenic Byway -- the most spectacular little-known drive in California. The 90-mile route (16 miles of it unpaved gravel) follows, Mammoth (at points called Minarets) and Beasore roads as they climb with the San Joaquin River canyon to put you within sight of the Sierra crest, then descend again to take you near two must-see detours; Fresno Dome, a view-filled out-cropping reached by an easy 1 1/2-mile round-trip hike; and 1,500-acre Nelder Grove, whose giant sequoias include the Bull Buck Tree, once through to be the largest in the world. …

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