A very special, high-altitude location for escaping the summer heat
July 19, 2005
Whew! With the temperatures in triple digits, it is hot – hot – hot – hot!
Fortunately, in this part of the country, you can temporarily escape that God Awful, sweltering heat by finding coolness at the higher elevations of our nearby mountains.
If you lived in places like Laughlin, Omaha, Phoenix or in Alabama or Mississippi, you would be totally out of luck in finding that nearby coolness.
So, today’s column is a suggestion for escaping our local heat wave and having fun at the same time, at a special destination, not too far from here.
It’s the Virginia Lakes, Calif. area, located about 100 miles from the Carson City area.
VIRGINIA LAKES AREA
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You can reach it by driving south on U.S. 395 for about 83 miles to Bridgeport, then continue for another 12 miles south to the top of Conway Summit.
At the summit, take the paved Virginia Lakes Road west for about seven miles.
Once you’re there, that area contains gorgeous scenery, lots of lakes, hiking trails, the Virginia Lakes Resort, the U.S.F.S. Trumbull Campground and the Virginia Lakes Pack Outfit.
Here is some additional info to whet your coolness appetite:
VIRGINIA LAKES RESORT
If you want to be a comfortable camper, the resort has 9 cabins with a scenic view of Little Virginia Lake and another 10 located on Virginia Creek.
Here’s a sampling:
Cabin No. 7, which can host 2 overnight guests, has a bathroom with shower.
Cabin No. 8 can host 3. It has a bathroom with shower.
Cabin No. 9 can host 4. Has a sun deck overlooking the lake.
Cabin No. 6 can host 5 and it is a split level.
Cabin No. 1 can host 6-12, has a large kitchen and dining area overlooking the lake.
You can reach the Virginia Lakes Resort at (760) 647-6484.
If you are a camper, this is the highest campground in all of the State of California, at an elevation of about 9,500′.
It overlooks Trumbull Lake, and has 45 campsites.
Half are available by advance reservation, the other half are on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are vault toilets, but no trailer hook-ups.
If you plan to camp here, bring warm clothes for the cool evenings at that high altitude.
The National Forest Recreation Reservations handles all campsites and can be reached at (877) 444-6777.
If you are a trout fisherman, the Virginia Lakes Canyon has a total of 10 gorgeous, crystal-clear, trout-filled Alpine lakes.
Those lakes contain Eastern Brook, German brown or rainbow trout, plus one lake (Moat) even contains Golden Trout.
Some of the lakes are Big Virginia, Little Virginia, Red, Trumbull, Blue, Cooney and Frog.
Big and Little Virginia Lakes are planted by Calif. F&G on a regular basis. As a bonus, they are also stocked by Tim Alpers with Alpers Trophy Rainbow Trout, which can weigh up to an eye-popping 8 pounds.
If you want to hike into the high country of the Sierra Nevada, the trail head is located near the brick outhouse in the parking lot at Big Virginia Lake.
From there, the ever-climbing, ever-steeper trail will take you past most of the lakes to your way to lofty Summit Pass.
Note: This is a strenuous hike that begins at 9,790′ and tops out at the pass at 11,000′.
It is a 5.5 mile round trip from the trail head.
You’ll be hiking at high altitude, so take it slow and easy.
VIRGINIA LAKES PACK OUTFIT
If you want to ride a horse, this pack station is just west of the Virginia Lakes Road before reaching Little Virginia Lake.
It offers all kinds of horseback rides from sightseeing day trips to extended camping/fishing trips into both the Hoover Wilderness Area and Yosemite National Park.
Be sure to ask about their first-class “Gourmet Camping” packtrip for groups of eight.
The Virginia Lakes Pack Outfit can be reached in the summer at (760) 937-0326.
THERE YOU HAVE IT
A nice, cool way to avoid our God Awful summer heat.
And, if you don’t fish, hike, camp or ride a horse, it is still a great, one-day, get-away.
• Bet Your Favorite Pigeon
Bet your favorite pigeon he can’t name a hard-to-reach lake in that area, that contains a nice population of Brook trout.
If he grins and says, ‘It is Burro Lake, which is reached by climbing up the very steep ridge just south of Frog Lake,” he might have been on one of my backpack trips to that lake.