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NorCal backcountry sites

Does anyone have any favorite backcountry camping spots they recommend? Not too far off the beaten path ideally but most important is that it’s not a circle of 10-15 campsites all within view of each other. My kids are getting old enough to do real backpacking and camping now and more importantly I refuse to go to one more awful, crowded car camping campground! Most helpful would be specific names/locations (vs. “desolation wilderness“ or “public lands near Tahoe”)

Desolation and Lake Tahoe define Loved to Death. 

Go to the places you have never heard of.   When backpacking get off the trail where there is no one. 

I avoid car camping in the summer and mostlyl boondock on logging roads.  I like to frequent local campgrounds after Halloween.  I was camping within an hour of my house last fall.  It was just me, my dog and a Great Horned Owl. 

Hi Sarah

The one question we get all the time from our website readers:  Where can I camp that has nice fishing, isn't too far, and isn't crowded.  Our answer?  Pick two. 

If you want isolation, hike farther from the trailhead.  As Ppine says, go off season or off trail. 

I know this won't help you, but if we WERE to post our favorite, easy to get to, but uncrowded beautiful spot on these message boards, by the time you got there, it would be packed. 

Instead of asking for our favorites, you need to consider what your kids would find enjoyable.  I like mountain tops and vistas.  But I find children are not nearly so interested in landscapes as they are in a good climbing tree and little critters.  Back in the day I took my young daughter and nephew to Zion, thinking they would love the canyons, but both were most fascinated in the little fish, frogs and tadpoles where the river passed right through the car camping facilities.


Thanks for your help! My kids are 12 and 14 and have been on some outdoor camping trips with school but my daughter complained about her heavy back and knee pain the whole toke of their Yosemite backcountry trip. She needs to toughen up! ; ) but still I don’t want to do too long or strenuous of a hike - maybe 3 miles? And yes water is a huge bonus! I expected no one would want to reveal a super special location but even a general region would be helpful, thanks!

Look at the Grouse Ridge area off Hwy 20 where it meets I-80 West of Donner Pass.  Lots of lakes there, the closest oy a mile or two, others up to five miles in...

August 12, 2020
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