Bear Valley Outdoor Recreation: Spring/Summer/Fall 2006
Hiking | Mountain Biking | Road Biking | Rock Climbing | White Water Rafting
Kayaking | Canoeing | Wind Surfing | Fishing | Fly Fishing | Swimming
Spring, summer and fall at Bear Valley are ideal for hiking, rock climbing, mountaineering, road biking and mountain biking. Or try flatwater kayaking, canoeing, white water rafting, swimming and fishing.
Outdoor adventures abound in this spectacular mountain setting, from hiking through scenic canyons and biking on back roads to scaling granite cliffs and fly fishing on cobalt-blue alpine lakes. Below is a snapshot of the many recreational activities that await in the spectacular Ebbetts Pass (elev. 8,730 feet) wilderness area and the Calaveras Big Trees State Park area, all easily accessible from State Highway 4.
Numerous trailheads dot the Highway 4 corridor, leading hikers into the Mokelumne and Carson-Iceberg wilderness areas where over 150 miles of high elevation trails are maintained by the Calaveras Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest. Whether looking for a short stroll through a grove of thousand-year-old redwoods or a hardier hike through mountain meadows carpeted in wildflowers or along cliffside trails to craggy snow-capped peaks, visitors will find it all here—amid some 150,000 acres of public land. For starters, try the North Grove Trail in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a 1-mile loop through an ancient sequoia redwood grove, or the 5.25-mile South Grove Trail loop. Or take the 5.1-mile trail from Bear Valley to the east side of sparkling Lake Alpine, part of the proposed 300-mile Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail that will eventually stretch from San Francisco Bay to Ebbetts Pass.
Mountain and Road Biking
It's hard to keep track of all the biking options that await in the Bear Valley Region, where bikers can sample everything from leisurely rides on paved roads through scenic pastoral countryside to challenging rides on steep single-track dirt trails in the spectacularly rugged backcountry. Mountain biking is allowed on all non-wilderness National Forest trails and roads and on all wider-than-one-track roads in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. For mountain biking instructions, scenic guided mountain biking tours (including a beginner ride to Lake Alpine), and rentals, visit Bear Valley Adventure Company near Bear Valley Village, (209) 753-2834, www.bearvalleyxc.com. While there, pick up a copy of the Bear Valley Mountain Bike Trail Guide, a complete guide to the area's mountain biking trails.
For those who'd like to try their hand at some rock climbing, stop at Mountain Adventure Seminars (MAS) at BaseCamp Lodge near Bear Valley Village. The company offers instruction, seminars, rock climbing camps and site maps for the nearby rock climbing venues that offer excellent bouldering opportunities for all levels of climbers, from novice to expert.
Tucked away in all those massive granite uplifts and volcanic ridges of the wilderness areas surrounding Bear Valley are scores of alpine lakes fed by melting winter snows and a pair of major Sierra rivers snaking down through the deep canyons. All of which spells paradise for watersports enthusiasts. Grabbing whatever paddle rocks their boat, they'll find plenty of pristine, high mountain lakes for flatwater kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and windsurfing. Kayaks, canoes, and boats are available for rent at Lake Alpine. Bear Valley Adventure Company near Bear Valley Village, (209) 753-2834, www.bearvalleyxc.com, offers flatwater kayak lessons and paddles. A nice alternative to taking a dip in a frigid alpine lake is the outdoor heated pool adjacent to Bear Valley Lodge. To experience the exhilaration of white water rafting, head for the North Fork of the Stanislaus River or the North Fork of the Mokelumne River. Several long-established rafting companies run chartered trips on these rivers in the spring and summer.
The rivers, creeks, and lakes in the Stanislaus National Forest abound with rainbow, brown, and brook trout, offering fishing enthusiasts a first-rate rod-and-reel experience, with an extraordinarily spectacular alpine setting as an additional lure. The trout fishing season begins in late April and runs through mid-November; a license is required. Several lakes in the region are open to fishing year-round.
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