Camping season opens |

Camping season opens

“This would be a good year if you want to do a little snow hiking,” said Westling.

A swollen Yuba River completely swamped Carlton and Fiddle Creek campgrounds, washing away picnic tables and replacing them with gravel bars. “Considerable damage was done by high water,” said Westling. Carlton campground, located off Highway 49 on the North Yuba River isn’t expected to open until the Fourth of July.

While high country is still inaccessible, the middle elevations are muddy. Westling advises people to refrain from driving on these back roads for now to minimize damage. Flooding caused the most damage throughout the forest, including a popular OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) area in Foresthill that crews are working hard to have open by today.

Many forest roads are riddled with potholes caused by snowplow blades and winter runoff. Plugged culverts, broken trees and bent signs are winter’s detritus. Campground water systems will get turned back on after water quality is tested.

Within the Tahoe National Forest, there are close to 100 campgrounds and picnic areas. Several highways and a vast network of forest service roads give easy access to this slightly less rugged, attractive climate and most visited section of the Sierra Nevada. Metropolitan visitors from Sacramento, the Bay Area and Reno play here year round. Westling guesses there are 5 million recreation visitor days each year in the Tahoe National Forest (a recreation visitor day equals one person spending one day on the forest).

Getting away from it all is a challenge as more and more user groups compete for their piece of public land. “It’s a little harder to find those remote sites. People need to recognize there will be a lot of people,” said Westling. Make reservations or get to campsites early to ensure a spot. If you’re not there by Saturday morning, chances are you’re not going to get a site, at least not a very good one. “It’s truly one of our busiest weekends,” said Westling.

Nearly all campgrounds have a fireplace, table and toilet, although not the flush variety. “Pretty much none of our campgrounds have flush toilets. This is a camping experience.” Campfire permits are required outside of designated campfire areas.

As always be cautious of outdoor hazards such as rattlesnakes, mosquitos, ticks, poison oak and bears. Keep food in bear-proof food boxes when provided. Don’t take food into tents or vehicles and dispose of garbage. Pack it in and pack it out.

“For the most part, campers are responsible. There’s always a few that leave messes … A lot of people that recreate from out of the area haven’t been educated on how to be light on the land,” said Westling.

High water is a concern this year. Avoid heavy alcohol consumption near the water. Keep children and pets away from the edge of streams. Be conscious of water quality. Don’t wash dishes in lakes or streams. All water from lakes and streams should be boiled for five minutes or treated with a water filtration unit to prevent giardia. And never make a toilet close to the water.

Westling says the No. 1 mistake people make on a camping trip is not planning ahead. Always be prepared for a variety of different conditions. Know where you are going beforehand, map it out, check weather and call ranger districts before heading out. Many areas don’t get cell phone reception.

The following campgrounds are expected to be open by Memorial Day:

Yuba North – All of Bullards Bar, including all boat ramps. Cal-Ida, Fiddle Creek, Indian Valley, Rocky Rest, Ramshorn, Union Flat, Loganville and Wild Plum.

Truckee – Boca, Boca Rest, Boca Springs, Boyington Mill, Prosser Group, Prosser Family, Lower Little Truckee (no water) and all others (except Sagehen, because of wet roads) are expected to be open by Memorial Day.

Foresthill – SugarPine campgrounds (Shirttail, Forbes Creek, Giant Gap) are open but have no water due to broken pipes. Morning Star with boat ramps. French Meadows, Big Trees and North Fork trails still snowed in. OHV areas expected to be open May 25. Call 530-367-2224 to check status.

Yuba South – White Cloud is open. Big Bend was expected to open this week. Bowman Road is open six miles in with access to Fuller, Rucker and Blue Lake (will need to hike in). All day use areas are open except Fuller Lake.

Sierraville – Jackson Meadows closed, may open by mid-June. Road is open roughly for five miles. Campgrounds along Highway 89 are open.

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