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California State Parks

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USA Parks
Northern California Region
Tahoe National Forest
Campsite Availability
Tahoe National Forest © Gary OToole
Valley Quail ©
Valley Quail
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631 Coyote Street
Nevada City, California   95959
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Located straddling the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains in northern California, lies the Tahoe National Forest encompassing a vast territory, from the golden foothills on the western slope to the high peaks of the Sierra crest.
Featured Areas within the Park
History of the Area

Transportation routes and development are major factors in the cultural history of the Tahoe National Forest. To some people, the history of the area begins with the wagons of pioneer emigrants, crossing Donner Pass on their way to California. However, human use and occupancy of what is now the Tahoe National Forest goes back many thousands of years. Peoples of the Washoe and Nisenan tribes and their predecessors utilized these lands for food, water, and recreation. Many of the routes we travel today across the Forest have been used for thousands of years.


The first large influx of emigrants from the United States came into the area began in the 1840s, crossing the mountains in covered wagons toward a better life in Mexican California. Donner Pass, the main emigrant route, was named after the ill-fated Donner Party, who wintered in 1846-47 at camps near the present day Truckee.


The Gold Rush of 1849 resulted in a veritable flood of emigrants seeking their fortunes in California, and many of them prospected the lands of the Tahoe. Many of the foothill towns, such as Foresthill, Nevada City, Downieville, Sierra City, and others, date from Gold Rush days, and there are many reminders of those times throughout the Forest. All historic and archaeological sites are protected under federal and state law.


Between 1862 and 1868, the western portion of the first transcontinental railroad was constructed over the Sierra Nevada at Donner Pass by the Central Pacific Railroad, meeting the tracks of the Union Pacific on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Point Utah. The trans-Sierra route remains a remarkable engineering feat, with roadbed built into granite walls, bridges that cross deep gorges, and tracks that pass through a series of tunnels and snow sheds as they cross the mountains. This rail link with the rest of the United States enabled gold and agricultural products from California to be easily shipped east, as well as bringing manufactured goods and even more settlers west, which fueled the rapid growth of the Golden State. Today's Interstate 80 is roughly parallel to the railroad, and travels the same basic route that people have taken for thousands of years.


The first coast to coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, crossed the Sierra Nevadaon its way from New York City to San Francisco, roughly following the route of today's Interstate 80. In this area, the Lincoln Highway was actively maintained between approximately 1913 and 1930, when it was replaced by US 40. This highway was, in turn, replaced by today's Interstate 80 in the mid-1960's. Portions of old 40 and the Lincoln Highway in the Big Bend-Donner Lake area are still open as a scenic route during the summer months.


Timber harvest and mineral extraction began on these lands along with the first influx of settlers, and continue to be important parts of the local economy; however, outdoor recreation and ecotourism has become another one of the major economic influences across the forest, and visitors from all over the world travel to this area for camping, hiking, fishing, skiing, sightseeing, and other recreation opportunities.
 Hiking Trailyes
1. White Cloud Campground: This campground offers 46 campsites and is located near the historic town of Nevada City.

2. Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area: A great place for wildlife viewing, this area has primitive camping options available.

3. Granite Flat Campground: Located on the banks of Truckee River, it's a perfect spot for fishing enthusiasts with its 75 sites to choose from.

4. Logger Campground: Situated at Stampede Reservoir offering boating and water sports activities along with more than 200 campgrounds.

5. Indian Springs Campground: It provides access to hiking trails in Tahoe National Forest as well as opportunities for bird watching or wildflower viewing during spring season.

6 . Emigrant Group Camping Grounds: Ideal location if you are planning group camping trip , can accommodate up:to-50 people per site.

7 . Lake Spaulding: Offers both tent & RV camping spots surrounded by pine forest overlooking beautiful lake view.

8 . French Meadows Recreation Site: Provides ample space spread over multiple locations around reservoir including Ahart , Lewis etc., also have boat ramp facilities.

9 . Goose Meadow: Small but peaceful campground situated alongside truckee river having only few spaces hence advance booking recommended.

10. Silver Tip/ Upper Hell Hole: These two remote areas provide dispersed type off-grid style wilderness experience where one needs self-contained vehicles due their lack basic amenities like toilets/water supply etc.

Tahoe National Forest is

1. Pacific Crest Trail: This world-renowned trail spans over 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada and passes through the Tahoe National Forest for approximately 37 miles. It offers stunning views of Sierra Nevada's mountain ranges.

2. Loch Leven Lakes Trail: A moderate difficulty level hike spanning about a distance of roughly seven miles round trip with an elevation gain of around 1200 feet that leads you to three beautiful alpine lakes surrounded by granite peaks.

3. Five Lakes Creek Hiking Trails: These trails offer various routes ranging between five and twelve-mile loops featuring picturesque landscapes including creeks, waterfalls, meadows full of wildflowers in springtime as well as panoramic vistas overlooking Granite Chief Wilderness area.

4. Castle Peak Summit Trail: An intense six mile out-and-back trek offering breathtaking views at every turn leading up towards the summit which stands tall at more than nine thousand feet above sea level providing hikers with sweeping panoramas across Donner Pass region all year long except during winter months due heavy snowfall conditions making it inaccessible without proper gear like crampons or ice axes etcetera.

5. Grouse Ridge Lookout & Round Lake Loop: The loop is nearly eight-miles-long showcasing multiple high-altitude lakes nestled amidst dense pine forests along its path while also passing by historic fire lookout tower perched atop ridge line affording spectacular sights surrounding wilderness areas below.

6. Spaulding Lake Trial: Approximately four-mile-round-trip route taking visitors down steep descent before reaching serene lake shore ideal spot picnicking swimming on hot summer days then ascending back same way they came giving them good workout process too!

7. Shirley Canyon Cascade Falls Route: Short yet strenuous two-point-five mile one-way journey starting Squaw Valley Ski Resort base climbing upwards alongside cascading waterfall eventually ending High Camp where people can enjoy meal restaurant take scenic tram ride back down if wish so instead hiking again thereby saving energy time both.

8. Bowman Mountain Trail: This is a 6.5-mile trail that offers scenic views and wildflower fields, with an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet. The hike can be challenging due to the steep incline but rewards hikers with panoramic vistas at the summit.

9. Sierra Discovery Trail: An easy one mile loop perfect for families or beginners interested in learning more about local flora fauna through interpretive signs placed along path while also featuring small waterfall halfway around circuit making it even appealing all age groups alike.

10. Peter Grubb Hut via Castle Pass: A moderately difficult seven point five miles round trip trek leading up towards rustic stone cabin built back nineteen thirties available overnight stays during winter season only though reservation required beforehand ensure availability space inside hut itself.

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Area Campgrounds
Clio's Rivers Edge RV Park
3754 Highway 89
Clio, CA
Sierra Skies RV Park
100 Carrier Circle @ Highway 4
Sierra City, CA
Movin' West RV Park
305 Johnsville Road
Graeagle, CA
Nearby Hotels

From Nevada City California, state highways 49 and 20 lead you to the forest.

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California State Parks