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Top 5s & 10s From California Boating

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1. Edison Lake
Here is one of the great family camping destinations in California. Edison Lake offers four lakeside camps, a resort, a boat launch, boat rentals, horseback riding rentals, a nearby trailhead to the Pacific Crest Trail, and yes, good fishing. A 15 mph speed limit keeps the water quiet, and there's twice-daily ferry service across the lake to the trailhead. Edison Lake, located at an elevation of 7,650 feet, is fed by Mono Creek, a cold, pure, and pristine trout stream. There are beach areas all along the shoreline for swimming. See chapter F5, page 394.

2. Big Bear Lake
Talk about a place that has it all: Big Bear is big and beautiful; offers good trout fishing, quality boating opportunities, many campgrounds, a few resorts, and excellent swimming; and is located near the highest regions of the San Bernardino National Forest, at 6,738 feet. Among all the bodies of water in the region, this lake has an unmatched beauty, particularly in the spring when the snow is melting. The deep-blue waters glisten in striking contrast with the surrounding white mountaintops. The lake covers more than 3,000 acres with 22 miles of shoreline, and has a faithful vacation following. See chapter I6, page 462.

3. June Lake
Awesome peaks that are often edged with snow tower above June Lake, a 160-acre mountain lake set at a 7,600-foot elevation. Amenities? If you need something, you can get it here. There are campsites near the shore, nearby cabins, a good boat ramp, and stores within a mile. June Lake is easily accessed off Highway 158. And for many reasons, it gets the highest use by far of all the lakes in the June Lakes Loop: It is very beautiful, and it has the best fishing, best camping sites, best swimming, and best windsurfing. That's a lot of bests. Even when there are many people here, the 10 mph speed limit guarantees at least a semblance of serenity. See chapter E5, page 349.

4. Lake Siskiyou
Giant Mount Shasta rises 14,162 feet above Siskiyou, creating one of the prettier settings for a man-made lake anywhere in the country. The 10 mph speed limit ensures quiet waters, and the nearby campground makes the place ideal for family vacations, plus there's easy access off nearby Interstate 5. Children often play in the swimming area, which has a great swimming beach, or pedal around in paddleboats. The lake provides an excellent campground (clean and patrolled), decent trout fishing, and good leisure boating opportunities. See chapter B2, page 101.

5. Zaca Lake
Very few people know about Zaca, a small lake that makes the perfect family retreat, complete with cabin rentals. Covering just 25 acres, it is set at an elevation of 2,400 feet in Los Padres National Forest, about 40 miles north of Santa Barbara. Swimming is popular, and a buoy line designates a swimming area and rocky beach at the south end of the lake. Side trip options include hiking and horseback riding; good trails through national forest land start just north of here. See chapter H2, page 421.

6. Silver Lake
Beautiful and inviting, Silver Lake is set at an elevation of 7,200 feet in a classic granite cirque just below the Sierra ridgeline in Eldorado National Forest. Visitors have access to cabin rentals, a campground, boat rentals, decent trout fishing, great hiking trails, horseback riding campgrounds, and several other nearby lakes. Most people congregate on the north side of the lake, where the campgrounds, picnic areas, and marina are located. See chapter D4, page 262.

7. Klamath River
The rafting run from Sarah Totten Campground to Happy Camp is probably the best trip in California for families. Beautiful scenery and lots of birds and wildlife can be seen along the way. The run is lively enough to make the trip memorable, yet easy enough that it's doable for the whole family. White-water highlights are Upper Savage and Otter1s Play Pen (both Class III-). There are plenty of thrills to get your blood pumping and lots of flat water so you can calm down or beach the boat and go swimming. See chapter A1, page 62.

8. Lake Alpine
In many people's minds, Lake Alpine fits the exact image of what a mountain lake is supposed to look like. For example, on a typical early summer evening, the surface of the lake is calm and emerald green, with little ripples made by hatching bugs and rising trout. The shoreline is well wooded (including some giant ponderosa pines), the smell of pine duff is in the air, and campsites are located within a short distance of the lake. Heaven on Earth? Almost. See chapter E4, page 327.

9. Goleta Beach County Park
The real attraction here is the huge beach...a sweeping, sandy oceanfront ideal for sunbathing, picnicking, swimming, and beachcombing. A buoy line designates a protected swimming area. There are summer days here when you'll see lots of people lolling around and you1ll wonder, "Hey, doesn't anybody work anymore?" See chapter H3, page 426.

10. Rancho Seco Lake
For the ideal family picnic spot, give this place a try. The 160-acre lake is part of the 400-acre Rancho Seco Recreation Area, which has a boat ramp (no motors permitted) and several docks. There is a large, sandy swimming area, a pleasant picnic site, and a campground for tents or RVs. There are also trails for hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling, as well as several fishing docks along the shore. See chapter D2, page 212.

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