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Campgrounds near North Lake/South Lake

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Campgrounds near North Lake/South Lake

Postby EasternSierra » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:50 pm

Hello Everyone,
I'm planning on doing the South Lake to North Lake trek on Saturday, September 10th through Thursday Sept 15th this year with a couple of friends. Our plan right now is leave the bay area early on Friday Sept 9th, get to Bishop around 3pm to pick up the permit, and then drive up the 168 to North Lake/Aspendell area to camp one night at altitude before we start our trek the next morning.

I am wondering about the campgrounds in that area and if they're going to be all full by the time that we get up there on a Friday afternoon in September. Is this something that I should worry about? There appear to be a lot of campgrounds in the area but only one (Four Jeffrey) takes reservations. Unfortunately you have to reserve Four Jeffrey for a minimum of 2 nights though so that will not work for us. The rest of the campsites (North Lake, Sabrina, Bishop Park, Intake 2, Forks, Big Trees, Willow Camp) all seem to be first-come-first-serve. Does anyone on this message board have any experience with these campgrounds? Are they pretty popular? I've done a prior trip out of North Lake in July (we got there at midnight so we just slept at the North Lake parking lot so camping wasn't an issue--I don't really want to do that this time) I seem to remember the North Lake campground being pretty nice but full on a Saturday in mid-July. Do you think finding a spot at this campground (or one of the others) is going to be an issue on a Friday afternoon in September? Any information on this would would be appreciated. Thanks.



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Re: Campgrounds near North Lake/South Lake

Postby rlown » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:58 pm

Well, i'll be at North lake campground on Sept 11th for the one night. It was $17/night last year, and we had a pick of spots last year during the same time. The nice thing is school is back in session, so I'm doubting there'll be a problem.
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Re: Campgrounds near North Lake/South Lake

Postby kpeter » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:51 pm

Sabrina is very popular with fishermen and I noted last week as I walked through it that it was not only full, but there were people waiting for others to leave.

Four Jeffrey looked to me like one of the more attractive campgrounds in the South Lake area. North Lake is a lovely campground too.

One year in August I did stay a night at Big Trees and had no problem getting a campsite late at night.

My guess is that after Labor Day there will almost certainly be many openings.
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Re: Campgrounds near North Lake/South Lake

Postby bheiser1 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:20 am

I camped in that area over the July 4th weekend this year, arguably the busiest weekend of the year. I don't recall the actual numbers, but a ranger told us that out of something like 250 (?) sites there were a dozen (?) open.

When we arrived mid Friday afternoon, the smaller (our desired) campgrounds (like North Lake, Sabrina) were full, but there were sites at the larger campgrounds on the way up, like Forks, Big Trees, and (though I didn't check it), maybe Bitterbrush. We stayed at Big Trees - as I recall it's at around 7500 ft.

Come to think of it, Willow (near South Lake) had sites, but we didn't stay because the skeeters were absolutely horrendous - huge clouds of them swarming in attack formation, stingers at the ready (code 5) - in mid afternoon. We guessed that was probably the reason there were sites available :). They were also very bad around North Lake, especially in that swampy area just below the campground. Hopefully in Sept this will be a non-issue anyway.

So even if by some chance the smaller campgrounds were to be full, you should be able to find something in the area.
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Re: Campgrounds near North Lake/South Lake

Postby EasternSierra » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:36 am

Thanks for all the responses! I feel a little bit better about the campsite situation now. I figured after Labor Day things will probably settle down a bit.

I love September in the Sierras: It's a little colder, less mosquitoes, and less people.
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