Monday, May 15, 2017

Thwarted by Snow in Graeagle, CA

Reno, NV to Graeagle, CA was a beautiful 65 mile drive into the mountains. All the mountains over 6,000 feet still had snow, the valleys were green and moist, and water was flowing everywhere...just gorgeous!

We spent a week at Clio's Rivers Edge RV Park, a pristine park on the Middle Fork of the Feather River. This 200 site RV park was less than 10% full during the week and maybe 15% full on the weekend. I don't think we'd have enjoyed it as much if it were full, but it was perfect at this slow time of year. Verizon signal was decent, AT&T signal was good but the speed was slow, park wifi was poor.

We appreciated the paved roads, concrete patio and pea gravel at our site, it kept down the dust if it was windy and the dirt when it rained or snowed. Yes, we did have a light dusting of snow one morning!

There are many trails in the area, but the extreme winter this year made most of the trails still inaccessible due to all the snow left in early May. Fortunately we could do a very nice 3 - 4 mile walk right from the RV park into and beyond the tiny town of Clio across the river from our park.

We had site G2, with lots of room on both sides of us.
We loved all the beautiful, healthy trees throughout the park.

View across the meadow next to the RV park.
Deer hung out here daily.

The Middle Fork of the Feather River.
Note the RV on the left...there are several RV sites that back up to the river...offered at a premium price.

Deer in the meadow in the evening.

Tiny Clio had a post office and the Blackbird Inn and Restaurant where we had an excellent pizza and tasty local brews.

One day we tried to hike to Frazier Falls, knowing that the road might not be open all the way to the trailhead. Sure enough a few miles up the road the snow drifts became too thick to get fact, we got stuck trying to plow our way through a particularly heavy patch.

High centered on a good 18 inches of snow!

It was 65 degrees and sunny, the snow was melting fast and it only took us about 15 minutes to get free.

After getting unstuck we parked and walked up the road, and the snow got deeper and deeper.

This was a pretty snow melt pond right off the road.

Plumas Eureka State Park is another place we attempted to take a hike. Though the historic mining complexes at Johnsville and the Jamison Mine were closed we were able to park at the head of the Jamison Mine Road and walk in to explore. The Upper Jamison Creek Campground was a shambles, with branches and trees down everywhere and signs of heavy water runoff here and there. It will be some time before it will reopen to the public.

Several mountain lakes can be reached from the Jamison Mine Complex so we decided to see if we could get to the closest one, Grass Lake, just a mile and a half from the closed campground. The trail was as much of a mess as the campground had been...clearly it had been a rough winter! Still we continued on till the snow got too deep and we worried about losing the trail.

Pretty mountain views from Grass lake Trail.

A particularly messy section of trail.

At this point we could still figure out where the trail was going...but not much longer!

A few crossings like this thanks to snow melt.

This beautiful waterfall was our stopping point.
We actually managed to get in a 6.5 mile hike on this day!

The Brewing Lair was an awesome find. Located up a gravel road on a hillside off of hwy 70, nestled in the forest The Brewing Lair makes some wonderful IPA's and has a unique outdoor venue. All seating is outside and there are beautiful homemade ping pong tables, corn hole, a slackline, 9-hole disc golf course and picnic areas with BBQ's (bring your own food). I don't know what they do when the weather is bad, but it is a fantastic place to have a tasty brew on a nice day.

Hanging out at The Brewing Lair.

Picnic area, fire pit, ping pong, etc. in a beautiful setting.

Madora Lake was a pretty, easy 1.6 mile hike very close to town.

Pretty Lundy Ditch.

Madora Lake looks like a great place for birds with all the grass and tree stumps.

Just a couple miles down the road from our RV park is the sweet tourist town of Graeagle. This former mill town now has multiple golf courses, easy access to the mountains and lakes, and some cute shops so there are lots of summer homes in the area.

Cute, old red and white houses line the main drag of Graeagle.

Nearby Lakes Basin Recreation Area has miles and miles of trails among subalpine lakes and some good fishing too...but this year we could only make it a few miles up the road till we reached snow. The snowmobilers were still enjoying the road!

Gold Lake Highway is still a winter sports destination.

Fortunately the road to Gray Eagle Lodge was open, though the lodge itself was not, and we were able to explore the lodge grounds and take a short hike to lovely Lilly Lake.

Gray Eagle Lodge is composed of 20 small cabins in a gorgeous setting along Gray Eagle Creek.
A couple of the cabins sit right on the edge of the creek which is running strong this year.

A short, snowy, heavily damaged trail brought us to pretty Lilly Lake.

We really loved this area, it was postcard beautiful and seems to have a lot of hiking...if there weren't so much snow this spring. We'll definitely be back, possibly this autumn, the fall colors should be spectacular.

Onward to Quincy, CA where we may have the same problems with snow...


  1. You guys find some great places that seem to be off the beaten path. The whole area looks like a postcard! So funny that you were high centered on a snowdrift. At least it melted. :-)) Gorgeous hikes -- Eric would be wearing shorts in the snow, too.

    1. It was really warm some days and really cool others. Typical spring weather in the mountains, I'm told.

  2. In the early 70's the little blip of Cascade was our get-outa-town destination from the hassle of Silicon Valley. Beer was chilled in Cascade Creek. Since returning to San Diego we have not been back. So good to see the wildness of Plumas remains, and a few nice additions to enjoy. Thanks for the post.

    1. This is a wonderful destination, you were fortunate to have such a peaceful, beautiful area to escape to. If I were younger it would be a great place to live.

  3. I agree with Laurel that you can fine the best stops off the beaten path. I could almost smell the fresh evergreens and oh my, those wonderful lake reflections. It's always a treat to find snow, and nice not to have to live with all the time.

    1. Yes indeed! Though I bet in the summer it doesn't feel so off the beaten path. I think a lot of NorCal and Reno people vacation here.

  4. That does look like a great area to visit in the fall, if you get there before it starts snowing again!

    1. Fingers crossed that mid October won't be too late!

  5. Another beautiful place in my home state that I've not heard of! This Spring snow has been a mixed experience, for the most part we've loved how pretty it is. Beautiful pics of the mountains - love that full creek and glass lake surface.

  6. Totally get your problem!! We need to stay below 5,000 ft for hiking right now. But the mountains are so beautiful!! Glad you found a few areas to hike. Hiking in some snow is fun if you can stay on the top:)

  7. Yeah, it's gonna be a late hiking season in the mountains this year! You guys find the best places though.

  8. Sometimes a drive in a beautiful and green but cold area is better than sitting around. But knowing you guys you will find something to explore and give us a view of places we have not been to, i have not even heard of this town.