Monday, February 19, 2018


We did back-to-back weekends of camping since the weather forecast had called for another warm weekend. So, back we headed to New Melones lake to check out the Ironhorse campground.

We picked an area in the one loop in which nobody else was camping.

There were no neighbors around. We only had views of the lake and the oak trees that have been hit by the blight. After setting up camp and eating lunch, we headed up to Arnold to hike a portion of the Arnold Rim Trail.

We parked at the Valley View Road staging area to hike a loop that would bring us to Cougar Rock. From the staging area, we hiked the P9 trail with Mountain Misery (aka bear clover) on either side of the trail until we descended the one ridge and came to the junction of the P9 and the ART.

We followed the ART along the creek for a short ways and then crossed the creek and started the climb up the next ridge to Cougar Rock.

After a moderate climb, we were rewarded with a beautiful vista. 

After soaking up the views of the region, we headed back down the ridge.

We quickly left the ART from Cougar Rock, took the P8 back to the P9, and made the last climb on P9 back to the car. This hike was such a delightful surprise. Many times we have driven past Arnold on our way to Alpine lake region, and I had always wondered what trails were in the Arnold area. Now that we know of this gem with wonderful trails to explore, we will be back to explore more of the ART.

Back at camp, our fearless dog was reward with a Junior Ranger New Melones pin from the friendly camp host, Justin, after telling him of our hiking adventure for the day. Justin had remembered us visiting last weekend at the Big Oak campsite. When he saw that we had returned from our hiking adventure for the day, he came over to our campsite to welcome us back. After chatting with him for a bit, he went off and then quickly came back with the Junior Ranger pin. He is the nicest camp host that we have ever met.

After another restful and quiet sleep, the next morning we took a hike along the section of the Carson Creek trail that we didn't do the previous weekend. 

When the water is low, a land bridge forms to connect a small island to the mainland. We decided to check out the island since the water was low for us to cross onto the island without getting our feet wet. I'm facing the island, but looking at some large house boats at the mooring dock close to the island.

After hiking the loop around the island, we headed back to the mainland for the trek back to camp. There were numerous folks out fishing that day. We only met one couple hiking the trail. Back at camp, we walked the loop noting sites for future stays.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Big Oak

Since the weather was warm, upper 70s, we headed out to New Melones for an overnighter at the lake. We figured that there wouldn't be too many folks camping since it was Super Bowl weekend, and we were correct!

We were able to pick a spot away from those camping lower down on the hill and closer to the lake. We still had lake views, but we also had lots of privacy.

This was the last weekend for Big Oak to be open. The next week the Bureau of Reclamation would be opening Ironhorse campground, which is located across the street from Big Oak campground. The Bureau alternates between the two campgrounds in the winter so that the birds nesting in this area of New Melones lake are protected. I saw lots of redheaded woodpeckers and California quail while here.

After settling in and having lunch, we headed off to hike a loop starting at Gold Rush trail over to the Carson Creek trail and then the climb up Tower Climb trail to Fire Access Road and back to camp.

We saw many houseboats docked as we hiked along the Carson Creek trail. The Tower climb wasn't as steep as I had read. Most of the trails are rated moderate, but I would classify them as easy-moderate.

Back at camp we enjoyed a quiet evening of watching the boaters traveling out of the park to home.

After a lazy morning, we headed on a hike on the Frontier trail and Gold Rush trail. Both trails are on either side of the road that goes to the Angels Creek Boat Launch area.

Along Frontier trail was an area beside this bridge with a picnic table. We made note of this as a great place to rest and have lunch the next time we hike this trail out to check Buck Brush and Angels Creek areas.

Picnic table is to the right of the Buckeye trees that line the creek.

As we approach the Angels Creek Boat Launch area, we see a glider and what looks like a spaceship from the trail. We of course wonder how the heck did a glider get there. Luckily, we were able to watch the owners of the glider dismantle the wings and tuck the glider into the towing capsule for the glider. The owners had towed the glider into the park to have pictures taken of the glider. We found out that the owner is the designer of this model glider and was having pictures taken for advertisement of the glider kit. It was such a surprise to see a glider in the land of boats, hills, and water.

After that adventure and surprise, we headed back to camp, packed up camp, and headed home in time for the game.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

First BLM

Husband and I decided to check out the BLM campground, Upper Sweetwater, at Laguna Mountain.

There are only six sites which are nicely spaced. Each site is level with shelter over the picnic tables.

The campsites are free with a limit of 14 days. Our shady site provided lots of privacy.

There are numerous trails from the campground. On our first day, we hiked the trail above the campground.

The trail is a fire road that lead up the mountain to private property. On the way back down the road, we noticed the metal box for hunters.

Back at camp, we enjoyed the peaceful warm afternoon. We chatted with one gentleman that came in for a short period of time to do some birding and get away from the crowds at the Pinnacles.

The next day started with a wonderful hike. We started our hike at the staging area across from the campground entrance. A gradual climb on trail L3 to trail L2 provided us with spectacular views of the region. The only cell signals for us was along a short segment of L2.

We came across three hunters on the trail and heard in the distance from time to time other hunters shooting at their targets. Luckily, we had the trail to ourselves with most of the time being quiet.  We did scare off some quail that were resting in shrubs by the trail, which startled us as the quail took flight.

Our goal was to find Laguna Falls. We got close by and heard the falls, but we didn't have the stamina to climb down to see the falls. Instead we enjoyed a rest under the Buckeye trees. This stretch of the trail must be very pretty in the spring when the Buckeye trees are in bloom.

After resting and snacking on oranges, we made the long climb back up, lots of switchbacks not shown on map. Close to the junction of L2 and L3 we were able to see the farm and red barn in the valley below. This is a view of a section of what we hiked the second day (taken the day before while hiking on the fire road).  Laguna Mountain and the farm in the valley are such a peaceful view.

But not all was quiet or peaceful when we got back to camp. The hunters that we had passed on the trail had decided to stop at the campground for some target shooting and hunting for quail. Wish they were more considerate to campers, especially since there is a sign stating no shooting. No wonder we didn't see any wildlife in the campground.

We retired to our RV until they left. We would like to come here again to explore more of this beautiful region, but I doubt we will ever return since there are too many hunters.

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Haunted Hike

We headed back to New Melones Lake for an overnight R&R.

We picked the Tuttletown Area in hopes of seizing a site in the Acorn Campground. Sadly, that area was closed for the season. So we meandered over to the Manzanita Campground area, which we were lucky to find site 86, a pull-through site at top of the hill and away from the crowd down by the lake. We prefer the Acorn Campground area, even though there isn't any great views of the lake, since the sites there are better designed for travel trailers.


Our closest neighbors were a couple of campsites away. It was very quiet since most folks were out on the lake fishing.

After setting up camp and eating lunch, we headed off to explore the hiking trails that we didn't hike in April. We hiked Fox Ravine over to Cougar Point to find the picnic table seen on the map and then down to the shore of the lake.

We were surprised that the water level of the lake was this low, but it's higher than the past couple of years.

The rock formation by the lake looks like trees (center grouping in photo) that have turned to stone. The pieces of stones have sharp edges that can easily be broken apart.

After investigating the shoreline, we headed back up the hill to continue our hike by following Black Bear Loop. The views were spectacular! The flat looking ridge is the Inverted Valley Butte that we hiked in April. From this vista, one can see that the butte goes for miles.

Leaving Black Bear Loop, we took the Kingsnake Loop back to our campsite. Along this route, we came across an unlucky deer that was right next to the trail. I'm glad to have seen it in this state versus half eaten and smelly.

Back at camp, we rested. I took a short trek down the hill to look at the four walk-in campsites below our site. The walk-in sites are very nicely positioned sites, but I wouldn't want to lug camping gear down and then back up that hill. I was happy to have our comfy RV and not to have encountered any cougar, black bear, fox, or king snake on this trip. Instead, we watched the deer, California quail, and red-headed woodpecker enjoying the warm autumn day. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A High Perch

We headed back to Black Oak Campground for the last weekend that the campground was open for the season. After setting up camp and having lunch, we took a hike along our favorite route by the campground to this overlook. Someone had placed a rusty chair on top of the rock for viewing.

Since all of the sites overlooking the valley were taken, we camped on the other side of the campground totally away from other campers. All the sites by us were empty.

The campground was very quiet since the campers were respectful adults.

Sunday we headed over to Pinecrest Lake to hike up to Cleo's Bath.

We hiked the beautiful trail up to where one has to start bouldering up the trail, the last portion to Cleo's Bath. We realized that this climb was too steep to do with our dog.

So instead, we headed back to hike around the lake. 

We hiked counterclockwise until we came to the dam. The trail continues over the dam. At first, we thought we couldn't cross over or use the trail since we didn't see anyone walking over the dam. And from our position on the trail above the dam, it looked like there wasn't a trail. Luckily that wasn't so since we didn't feel like hiking back the way we came.

The view looking down the dam from the trail on the dam. There were some people down there hiking.

As we continued our hike around the lake, we got a view of the canyon up to Cleo's Bath. Even though we didn't make it up to Cleo's Bath, our hike was wonderful and fun around this beautiful lake.