Summer in Bear Valley, California

A panoramic view of the majestic Calaveras Big Trees State Park
A panoramic view of the majestic Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Last weekend, some friends invited my family for a weekend getaway to their mountain cabin to escape the San Francisco fog.

Bear Valley? It sounded familiar, but I honestly didn’t know anything about it except that it conjured images of a skis and snowboarding. And, yes, turns out that in winter this valley in the high Central Sierra Mountains, is a popular ski destination. Located south of Lake Tahoe and northwest of Yosemite

A giant sequoia and a sassy girl in Calaveras State Park
A giant sequoia and a sassy girl in Calaveras State Park near Bear Valley.

National Park, it is also a hopping area for summer fun.

There are plenty of lakes and rivers for watersports that fortunately haven’t been decimated by drought. Lake Alpine is a 180-acre scenic reservoir near Bear Valley Lodge. It accommodates kayaks, canoes, and motorboats, paddleboarders and swimmers. Another popular kayaking spot is the Utica Reservoir.

We took a posse of children on a nature adventure to nearby Calaveras Big Trees State Park. They were floored by the colossal trees, descendants of giant sequoias that were standing in prehistoric times when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

For those interested in camping, the North Grove that has been protected since 1931, has 70 campsites. For information and reservations, call 800-444-7275 or visit www.parks.ca.gov.

The park also offers several beautiful hiking trails including. The South Grove Trail that passes the two largest trees—the Agassiz Tree and the Palace Hotel Tree. Other park activities include picnicking and swimming along the Stanislaus River and fishing for rainbow trout along the river and Bear Creek.

Insider Tip

For the more adventurous visitors, O.A.R.S. (www.oars.com/california) offers whitewater rafting trips on the Stanislaus River.

This post was contributed by Lisa Crovo Dion. Photos by Dan Dion

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