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Find your treasure: fresh fruit pies, fishing holes, the largest living trees on earth, and 22 more mountain good times.

NORTH OF TAHOE

1 COFFEEBAR How can one grind be so much better than the rest? Somehow, it is. In Truckee, perfect lattes, baked goods, and gelato. coffeebar truckee.com.

2 LOST TRAIL LODGE Near Truckee, off-the-grid lodge accessed by foot or (in summer and fall) car. Mountain bike (BYO), then Jacuzzi to your heart's content. From $198; losttraillodge.com.

SOUTH OF TAHOE

3 WRIGHTS LAKE TRAILHEADS Hike into Desolation Wilderness from the west. Great camping too. (530) 644-2349.

4 HOPE VALLEY CAFE In a roadside shack, owner Leesa bakes superior fruit pies (good breakfasts and lunches as well). $; (530) 694-2323.

5 GROVER HOT SPRINGS STATE PARK Two family-friendly pools--one hot and one cool, and both sulfur-free (no rotten-egg smell). $7, parks.ca.gov.

CENTRAL & SOUTHERN SIERRA (WEST SIDE)

6 CALAVERAS BIG TREES STATE PARK Stroll through North Grove--the first stand of giant sequoias visited by non-Native Americans. $10; parks.ca.gov.

7 HETCH HETCHY Yosemite's other great valley, flooded to create Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the early 1900s. But surrounding mountains remain gorgeous and uncrowded. A 5-mile round-trip hike leads to Wapama Falls. $20/vehicle; nps.gov/yose.

8 ERNA'S ELDERBERRY HOUSE Fanciest cuisine in the Sierra; not cheap but worth it. $$$$; chateau sureou.com.

9 FLORENCE LAKE FERRY Take the Sierra Queen across the lake and walk back, or hike into the John Muir Wilderness. $12 one way; check ferry runs: florence-lake.com.

10 KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK Spectacular valley famous for waterfalls and lush meadows. $20/vehicle; nps.gov/seki.

11 BIG MEADOWS CABIN Live the ranger life--sleep in Sequoia National Forest's historic Big Meadows ranger cabin. $125; recreation.gov.

12 CONGRESS TRAIL Forgo the General Sherman. The best sequoia grove in Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks stands on the Congress Trail. Don't miss the House and Senate groups. $20/vehicle; nps.gov/seki.

13 BEARPAW HIGH SIERRA CAMP Meals, beds, and showers at a rustic camp in an awe-inspiring setting. Tent cabins from $350, including 2 meals/day; visitsequoia.com.

14 MORO ROCK 14 About 400 granite steps ascend 6,725-foot Moro Rock--like Half Dome without the cables and the long hike. $20/ vehicle; nps.gov/seki.

15 REIMER'S CANDIES Classic sweetshop in Three Rivers, because no summer trip is complete without fudge. reimerscandies.com.

EASTERN SIERRA (BISHOP/ MAMMOTH AREA)

16 MOSQUITO FLAT 16 The 10,300-foot trailhead at the end of Rock Creek Road is the Sierra's highest: From here, hike through Little Lakes Valley. fs.usda.gov/main/inyo/home.

17 PIE IN THE SKY 11 CAFE Fresh pies at 9,700 feet. Get there early; the King family's legendary slices (from $7) sell out by midday.rockcreeklake.com.

18 RESTAURANT AT CONVICT LAKE Beef Wellington and bananas Foster at a rustic fishing resort south of Mammoth Lakes. $$$; convictlake.com.

19 DEVILS POSTPILE NATIONAL MONUMENT Geology meets geometry in a massive rock formation of hexagonal columns formed by an ancient lava flow. From $7; nps.gov/depo.

20 MAMMOTH BREWING COMPANY Winner of a World Beer Cup Gold Award in 2012, Mammoth Brewing keeps things local with its Golden Trout Pilsner and Devils Post Pale Ale. mammoth brewingco.com.

21 DOUBLE EAGLE RESORT Luxurious mountain fun at this June Lake cabin resort, spa, and restaurant ($$). From $119; double eagle.com.

EASTERN SIERRA (NORTH OF TIOGA PASS)

22 WHOA NELLIE DELI Lobster taquitos and buffalo meatloaf inside a gas station on U.S. 395? You bet. $$; whoanelliedeli.com.

23 MONO INN RESTAURANT Grilled salmon and elk burgers served overlooking Mono Lake in a 1922 roadhouse owned by Ansel Adams's relatives. $$$; monoinn.com.

24 VIRGINIA LAKES 24 RESORT At 9,770 feet, Virginia Lakes is the back door to Yosemite Notional Park. Cabins, fishing. Cabins from $107 (1-week min.); virginialakesresort.com.

25 CONWAY SUMMIT U.S. 395's viewpoint at 7,864 feet shows you Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra--and a guardrail festooned with bumper stickers from around the world. 13 mi. south of Bridgeport.--A.M.B. and M.J

Illustration by Edward Juan
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Title Annotation:THE SECRET SIERRA
Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 2013
Words:669
Previous Article:The secret Sierra: we all think we know California' Sierra Nevada. But many of the mountains' best wonders--unlikely as it seems--are waiting for you...
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