School bells all over El Dorado County have already rung. Football, soccer, band, homework, clubs of all kinds start taking up a lot of time.
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Which means for the outdoor types around here is simple. The pressure on the campgrounds, trails, and day use areas is much less now. The best bet is — if you can swing it — to go camping or hiking during the week. If that’s not possible, you’ll still enjoy a bit more solitude on the weekends.
Closest campground is Sly Park in Pollock Pines. Big lake and great campsites, within a short drive from almost anywhere in the county.
Next is the entire Crystal Basin Recreation Area. A metric ton just about nails it, or to be a bit more precise, around 700 camp sites.
Ice House has plenty of space and nicely dispersed campsites, in three campgrounds. It’s the closest one when you’re headed up into the recreation area. Great places to just sit around, fish, boat, or take long naps.
Gerle Creek has two campgrounds — great family spot.
Union Valley is really big, with 11 different campgrounds. A paved bike path rolls through the area, and you can boat, fish or hike all day long, start the next day to do the same thing, and not visit the same spot twice.
Further up the road is Loon Lake. With seven different campgrounds, two of them for the equestrian types, one boat in spot. Keep in mind that it can get a bit windy up there.
Wrights Lake is small, but wonderful. One of the three camping areas there is set up to accommodate RVs and trailers, as well as tents. The other is a tent only area, and the third is a horsie area. They are great places to relax, fish, ride, and paddle your boat. No motors of any kind are allowed on the lake. Hikes to Twin Lakes, or just up onto the granite, or over to Rockbound Pass, will take you into the great Desolation Wilderness.
Not far past the turn to the Crystal Basin is the Sandflat campground. It’s right on the American River, just off Highway 50. Good hiking and splashing about in the river are on the menu here.
Further up the highway is the Lovers Leap campground in Strawberry. It’s on a first come, first served basis. Hikes to Slippery Ford, or to Horsetail Falls are close by. Of course, there’s the world famous Lover’s Leap itself, and you’ll find the campground a favorite with climbers who are intent on getting to the top of that beautiful chunk of granite.
As we get deeper into the back end of summer and the budding school year, all those campgrounds will have more spaces available.
Get your tent, and get outside!