California – A Hiker’s Heaven

My grandmother taught me to love hiking. She would roust us kids out of bed when it was still dark. We’d bundle up in snuggly sweatshirts and hit the road. Soon we would swerve off onto a dirt trail and begin to climb an east facing ridge. Slowly but surely, we gained altitude and the sky gradually lightened turning wonderful shades of pink, orange, mauve and then blue. Each time we witnessed some of the most beautiful sunrises God ever created. Along the way I learned the differences between California Poppies, Lupine, Indian Paint Brush and Sticky Monkey Flower. I also learned that just because something might be hard to do….that didn’t mean I couldn’t do it.

On other hikes throughout the Sierra, she taught me to tell the difference between Ponderosa & Jefferson pines, the difference between pines, cedars and firs. We watched for footprints and discovered what we were sharing our trails with. One hike was my most memorable. She took me hiking for three days in the mountains around Gold Lake. One morning, we had been hiking about 4 hours mostly uphill. By lunch we reached Long Lake, tired, hot and sweaty. Though no one was around, I was flabbergasted as my grandmother stripped down and swam out into the lake. It took some cajoling on her part, but soon I followed – a memory I still cherish.

For those of you that already love hiking, you have many similar memories. Keep making them and drag the children in your lives along with you. They will most certainly grumble and whine. But twenty years later…they will remember.

If you haven’t tried hiking, give it a chance. We’ve got lots of links for beginners. Not a bad idea for us old timers to take a refresher course too!

Not sure where to go? If you’ve noticed, the past several issues of California Campin’ have focused on different hikes from that month’s region. We have compiled our hikes to date on a new page on As we feature more and more regions, the links and hikes will continue to grow. Additionally, we have information on hikes that cross multiple regions such as the Pacific Crest & Coastal Trails.

Hike a Trail Today!

California Fall Colors

Ever wanted to chase the changing seasons through the California Sierra? Have you wanted to be there just at the right time to capture a picture of an amazing Aspen leaf in the height of color? will help you cross that item off your bucket list! This seasonal blog (mid-September to Thanksgiving Day) reports fall color throughout California. Reports and photographs are provided by volunteer color spotters staged all across California.

Click here to learn more about California Fall Colors.

Featured Region – California’s High Sierra

The High Sierra region runs from Lake Almanor in the north, down to Tehachapi in the south, from the Nevada border west to the Gold Country. Home to the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountain range, the highest on the continent, it is an outdoor-adventure seeker's paradise. Wildlife and dramatic views abound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Mule deer, beaver, river otter, marmot, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, black bear, and hundreds of bird species may catch your eye. The High Sierra is not only home to wilderness areas with pines and giant sequoias, spectacular falls, tranquil valleys and meadowlands, but also home to resorts, historic Old West towns, cultural festivals, fine dining, golf courses and night life of the human kind.

For more information visit’s High Sierra Destinations.

5 Great High Sierra things for Families

5 Great High Sierra things for Adults

Explore a Ghost Town Explore the Sierra on Snowmobile
Play in the Snow Golf High Sierra Valley
Explore Sierra by Horseback Picnic in Magnificent Beauty
Sierra Soaking See the Sierra Up Close
Go Underwater with the Fish Art in the Mountains

Featured Hikes

Editor’s Note: While California’s High Sierra has some of the best hiking in the world, it can be some of the most dangerous as well. Especially this time of year! Even though we can be enjoying 90 degree days in the valley or along the coast, the High Sierra could be falling below freezing at night or have sudden thunder storms in the afternoons. Nature is spontaneous….so hike with care!

Tahoe Rim Trail - One of the world’s premier trails. It passes through two states (California and Nevada), six counties, one state park, three National Forests, and three Wilderness areas. This spectacular trail is 165 miles of single-track multiuse trail, winding from peak to peak around Lake Tahoe. It is a trail that offers something for everyone! Hiking and horseback riding are allowed on all portions of the trail, while mountain biking is allowed on the trail except in wilderness areas, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, and on trail segments that overlap the Pacific Crest Trail.

Lassen Peak Trail - The trail to the top of Lassen Peak begins at the peak parking area at an elevation of 8500 feet. The popular trail is 2.5 miles one-way to the summit. There are many fantastic vistas of the park and surrounding areas from the trail (see picture gallery below). The summit provides one of the most spectacular views of the Devastated Area, a view from the top looking down (see picture in gallery below). This view is the best vantage point to contemplate the power of the 1914-17 eruptions. The lingering rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide near the summit reminds visitors that Lassen is still considered an active, but dormant, volcano. Currently under renovation, specific dates have been set aside for climbers to reach the peak!

Sequoia National Park - Lace up your hiking boots, or slip on your sneakers – there are more than 800 miles of Sequoia hiking trails for people of every ability and inclination. From gentle ambles among giant sequoias to moderate day hikes and full-throttle ascents (including the highest point in the lower 48 states!), Sequoia hiking trails deliver peak experiences, whatever the topography and terrain.

For links to these featured hikes visit’s Hiking page.

Featured State Park - Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

The reserve was established to preserve the spectacular "tufa towers," calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. It also protects the lake surface itself as well as the wetlands and other sensitive habitat for the 1 - 2 million birds that feed and rest at Mono Lake each year.

Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles. It is an ancient lake, over 1 million years old -- one of the oldest lakes in North America. It has no outlet.

Throughout its long existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierra streams. Freshwater evaporating from the lake each year has left the salts and minerals behind so that the lake is now about 2 1/2 times as salty as the ocean and very alkaline.

The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended. Winter is a particularly beautiful time at Mono Lake. The crowds are gone, a quiet stillness prevails, and snow crystals sparkle on the tufa towers. The road to South Tufa is kept plowed, when staffing permits, allowing year round access except immediately after large storms. South Tufa, Navy Beach, and the Old Marina area are all wonderful places to cross-country ski when snow conditions permit.

For more information visit

Featured Wildlife Viewing site:

Hope Valley Wildlife Area - Site # 92

From thickets of blazing yellow-gold aspens on its slopes in fall to showy spring wildflower displays on the rolling meadows. Hope Valley is known for its stunning scenery and serenity. It is also a good place to see wildlife for those who take time to look. Mule deer and yellow-bellied marmots use the area from spring through fall. During spring listen for blue grouse booming and mountain quail whistling among the Jeffrey pines and near creeks.

When near water look for common snipe or locate them by their winnowing calls. Many cavity-nesting birds also inhabit the conifers and aspens, including red-naped sapsuckers, hairy woodpeckers, and mountain bluebirds. Fall populations of warbling vireos, western wood pewees, and yellow-rumped warblers give way to such winter visitors as red-breasted nuthatches, mountain chickadees, and dark-eyed juncos.

Clark's nutcrackers are common. Belding's ground squirrels and other rodents attract a variety of hawks, porcupines, coyotes, bobcats, and black bears also inhabit the area. Watch for beaver sign and spotted sandpipers near the Carson River. The Pony Express Trail, Mormon Emigrant Trail and the historic Danberg Camp are located on the area.

For more information visit California Watchable Wildlife

We Knew them as Books on Tapes

Today, technology has advanced the ease and variety of books we can listen to while on the road. I know that the 5th and 6th Harry Potter books got my kids from California to Yellowstone and back! While Nevada is a lovely state, waiting for the next appearance of “He Who Shall Not Be Named” was way more interesting!

Now referred to as audiobooks, the selection is vast. iTunes alone boasts over 5,000 classics available for free. A quick Google search brings up dozens of websites with free and paid-for selections.

Take a walk down memory lane and find your favorite childhood books. Download them onto whatever smart gizmo or gadget you own. You will enrich your children and reduce the number of “Are we there Yet?” tenfold.

Click to Learn More!

New RV Cooking Show e-Cookbook

Evanne Schmarder brings readers a great treat this month. So many campers loved her Flying Flags RV Resort series; Evanne has created an e-Cookbook. For a limited time, this FREE e-cookbook is filled with seven stories and seven sensational recipes. From Flying Flags BBQ master Richard Boucher's Santa Maria Tri-tip to Walnut Honey Sauced Fudge Brownies you're in for a treat! Click here to download.

About: Flying Flags RV Resort is an award winning resort along California’s Central Coast is ideally located in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, famous as Santa Barbara’s wine region, and located right next to the lovely Danish town of Solvang. Flying Flags, managed by Horizon RV Resorts, offers something for everyone in the family as well as the best in modern camping from rustic tent sites to groomed RV sites to luxury cottages.

About: RV Cooking Show is brought to you by Fulltime RVer, Evanne Schmarder. Living the last 12 years in a less than a 240 square foot box on wheels – she shares stimulating conversation on road travel, tasty RV kitchen tips, simple dishes as souvenirs and menus as memory makers. Evanne loves to travel; loves to eat; enjoys virtual & real campfires, destination dishing and great grilling.

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