Blue Lakes

Blue Lakes

Mileages From Stockton

  • Lower Bear River Res. - 85 miles
  • Silver Lake - 94 miles
  • Caples Lake - 101 miles
  • Woods Lake - 104 miles
  • Carson Pass - 105 miles
  • Blue Lakes - 124 miles

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Blue Lakes

Blue Lakes are part of a cluster of lakes 12 miles south of Highway 88 at Hope Valley. Operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the lakes serve as water storage for downstream hydro-electric plants. Four main campgrounds, plus an expansion campground are open as soon as the road is plowed free of snow in early summer. The lakes offer boating, swimming, and fishing. Nearby is the Tamarack Lake - Indian Valley area.

When you first arrive at Blue Lakes you will find a small parking area with Information Signs with a map and other details about the area. Two dirt boat ramps are located along the shore of Upper Blue Lake and one ramp on Lower Blue Lake. There are no supplies available at Blue Lakes. The nearest stores are in Woodfords and Markleeville.

By mid to late summer wildflowers appear in the meadows around the lakes. Look for Cow Parsnip, Groundsel, Indian Paintbrush, and Lupine. For birdwatchers keep your eyes open for Hairy Woodpeckers, Warblers, Common Nighthawks, House Wrens, Mountain Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Red Crossbills.

map of Blue Lakes area  on Carson Pass, CA

Twin Lake and Meadow Lake

Twin Lake near Blue Lakes, Carson Pass, CA

The 0.8 mile dirt road to Twin Lake passes below the dam on Lower Blue Lake and then climbs a short, bumpy hill before leading along the north side of the lake. 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended, but it is possible for a high clearance 2-wheel drive vehicle with good traction to reach Twin Lake.

At Twin Lake visitors find a parking area next to a picnic area with a restroom. Hand launched boats could easily be carried to the water.

The 1.8-mile road to Meadow Lake beyond Twin Lake is best taken by 4-wheel drive vehicles or on foot. There is a parking area at the end of the road and then a quarter mile trail to the lake.

Day Hikes at Blue Lakes

Around Upper Blue Lake

For an easy stroll, the 3-mile hike around Upper Blue Lake is an obvious choice.

Granite Lake

The 2-mile trek up to Granite Lake makes an interesting half day hike from Blue Lakes. Start out at the Middle Creek Campground and head west up the trail, passing a tiny unnamed lake along the way. The entire climb is about 550 feet. From Granite Lake hikers have nice views back down on Upper Blue Lake. Fishing is good in Granite Lake for Lahontan cutthroat trout.

Pacific Crest Trail Sojourn

Pick up the trailhead just east of Lower Blue Lake and stroll south. The trail winds for 3 miles past a series of shallow lakes - Tamarack, Sunset, and Wet Meadows. You may want to poke around along the way, so the overall hike could easily turn into a full 8 miles round trip.

OHV around Blue Lakes

Deer Valley OHV Route, Carson Pass, CA

Deer Valley

The 7-mile run from Blue Lakes south to Hermit Valley on Highway 4 is a popular route for 4-wheelers. The trail is a designated corridor through a wilderness area. It begins easy enough at the southern end of Lower Blue Lake and heads south into Clover Valley. A stream crossing there can be problematic if Blue Creek is running high. Usually it is 1 - 2 feet deep. Farther south the trail crosses Deer Creek and then climbs slightly and levels off before a sharp descent into Hermit Valley. The final quarter mile of the road is loaded with boulders, making it a challenge for many.

Lost Lakes

Continue past Upper Blue Lake on a one-mile long road that carries you up to Lost Lakes. It is easily done by any 4-wheel drive vehicle.

Sunset Lakes

There are many short, interconnecting OHV routes available out toward Tamarack Lake, the cluster of Sunset Lakes, and Wet Meadow Reservoir.

Tamarack Lake and Indian Valley

Tamarack Lake near Blue Lakes, Carson Pass, CA

A mile before Blue Lakes Road arrives at Lower Blue Lake is a turnoff to Tamarack Lake (shown right with the Nipple in the background) and the Indian Valley area. Signs along the road mark the turn. The main dirt road, which winds 3.5 miles out to Lower Sunset Lake, is in good condition and can be negotiated by high clearance vehicles. Connecting off the main dirt road are numerous side routes, mostly intended for OHV travel.

The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the area, with an access trailhead soon after you leave Blue Lakes Road. There you will find a parking lot and a restroom. Many of the lakes in the area are reservoirs used for water storage. In the fall the lake levels drop as water is drawn from them.

There is dispersed camping in the area.

map of Tamarack Lake and Indian Valley area  on Carson Pass, CA

Fishing at Blue Lakes

Upper and Lower Blue lakes have rainbow, Lahontan cutthroat, and brook trout. With steep drop-offs from the shore, fishing from the banks is especially good at both lakes.

Popular Baits and Lures: Minnow Imitations, Power Bait, Salmon Eggs, Spinners, Panther Martins, Super Dupers. Flashers and dodgers are useful.

Twin Lake is one mile west of Lower Blue Lake on a rough gravel road. Car-top launched non-motorized boats can be used there. Meadow Lake has a high-clearance dirt road leading into it, but not right down to the shoreline. The lake is hemmed in by granite with a few clusters of trees around the shoreline. It is possible for ambitious anglers to haul a small, light craft to the water's edge.

Boat Ramps

There is an unimproved boat ramp at Lower Blue Lake, while two ramps are found at the upper lake, one near the dam and the other at the north end.

Blue Lakes Campgrounds

All the campgrounds at Blue Lakes are usually open early summer to mid-October, depending on snowfall. They are operated by PG&E. For more complete camping information, see Blue Lakes Camping.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company
Campground Reservation Information
Changes for 2024 TBA

Many PG&E campgrounds (except group campgrounds), including those with reservations available, also have some first-come, first-serve sites.

Fees: $25 per night at most Blue Lakes campground. $27 for lakeside sites at Lower Blue Lake.

Lower Blue Lake Campground

  • 16 camp sites for tents, trailers, and RVs.
  • Vault toilets, piped water, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, bear boxes
  • Boating, fishing, swimming at Lower Blue Lake

Middle Creek Campground

  • 5 popular camp sites along the creek for tents, trailers or RVs
  • Vault toilets, piped water, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, bear boxes
  • Swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking

Middle Creek Expansion Campground

  • 34 sites at the Expansion Campground across the road
  • Vault toilets, piped water, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, bear boxes
  • Swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking

Upper Blue Lake Damsite Campground

  • 25 camp sites for tents, trailers and RVs
  • Vault toilets, piped water, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, bear boxes
  • Swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking

Upper Blue Lake Campground

  • 32 camp sites for tents, trailers and RVs
  • Vault toilets, piped water, picnic tables, grills, fire rings, bear boxes
  • Swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, hiking