Date: June 20-24, 2006
Distance: ~ 15 miles hiking, biking and kayaking
Trail(s): Union Valley Bike Trail, offroad
Where’s it at? Crystal Basin Rec Area. Off 50 beyond Pollock Pines, Ice House


Crystal Basin Brochure

The Crystal Basin area is really pretty cool. It is easy to get to from the bay area, where it’s located a little ways east of Pollock Pines and Placerville off Hwy 50. I first went there in maybe the summer of 1983 with a friend’s family, and have pretty much gone there at least once a year since. While it’s true that it’s filled with reservoirs instead of natural lakes, they are not all that new and aside from Ice House Reservoir they don’t really look like reservoirs to me.

The activities in this area are almost endless: hiking, biking, kayaking, water skiing, fishing, backpacking and sightseeing. There are a couple stores (Ice House is the best), and a restaurant/bar at Robb’s Resort (sp).

One of my favorite things about the place is that you can camp wherever you want (with a few exceptions), if you want to avoid the established campgrounds, which are nice also. You can even have campfires if you get a free annual fire permit from the Pacific Ranger Station on the way in.

Definitely recommend that you explore all the lakes in the area if you can. Gerle Creek is pretty cool but not a highlight. Loon Lake is a little higher up and very scenic, and has served as a staging point for a number of my Desolation Wilderness backpacking trips. Ice House Reservoir has some really good fishing, especially if you head to the far NE end of the lake where Silver Creek empties into it. Wrights Lake, further east, (assuming that’s technical in Crystal Basin still) is also a really nice area and mentioned in some of my other posts.

The pictures below are from a trip in 2006 where I camped at Union Valley Reservoir on a summer solstice. I brought my kayak and bike and played with both throughout the trip. Fishing from a kayak is pretty exciting. If you visit the area in April or May the streams will be pretty full from runoff.


Photos from Crystal Basin (click to enlarge)

Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping
Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping
Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping
Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping
Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping
Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping Crystal Basin Rec Camping

Directions to Union Valley Reservoir


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