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Sno-parks open up new ski options: three new California sites ... for skiing, sledding, camping.

PICTURE LIMITLESS snowy miles of ski, sled, and snowmobile terrain in national forests. Now imagine them essentially closed to recreation simply for lack of a plowed parking lot, trail markers, and a few facilities. That's the problem California's growing Sno-Park system was created to solve.

Modeled after similar programs in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, the relatively small but growing California system now boasts 15 sites--3 new since last winter. They range throughout the Sierra Nevada, from Yuba Pass south to Huntington Lake.

Recreation areas served by Sno-Park sites are mostly undeveloped. Some ski trails are marked, but none are set with tracks or groomed; each site has a pit toilet but no water.

HOT SNOW PARKS--ECHO

SUMMIT, SHAVER LAKE

Two of the best-developed sites each have well-marked cross-country ski trails and snow-play slopes, as well as equipment rentals and permit sales on site or nearby.

Echo Lake/Echo Summit. Managed as one site, these new snow parks are on both sides of U.S. Highway 50 at the 7,382-foot summit, 60 miles east of Placerville.

Bring your skinny skis to Echo Lake, 1 mile north of U.S. 50 on Echo Lake Road. For the best views, ski northwest 1 1/2 miles up the unplowed road (moderately difficult) to a vista point overlooking the lake; continue on a level 1-mile trail along the lake's south shore (back-track to return).

Echo Summit, just east off U.S. 50 at the base of a defunct downhill ski area, has a gentle slope and long, safe runout that make it ideal for sledding and snow play. On weekends this winter, the Forest Service plans to sell permits and rent cross-country ski equipment out of the old clock tower lodge.

For snow conditions, call (916) 644-6048.

Coyote Sno-Park. Of the four popular snow parks strung along State Highway 168 northeast of Fresno, this 6,760-foot-elevation site 18 miles beyond Shaver Lake offers the greatest variety of cross-country terrain on four well-marked ski trails, as well as free camping at nearby Huntington Lake.

Eagle Lake Trail, an easy 5-mile out-and-back trek, heads west from the parking lot to the Shaver Lake Vista. The toughest ski route is the 6-mile Coyote Loop, which climbs up Tamarack Mountain for views of jewel-like Huntington Lake.

For snow conditions, call (209) 841-3311.

You can rent equipment in Shaver Lake at Four Seasons Ski & Bike, 41838 Highway 168. Permits are available at the Pineridge Ranger Station (open 8 to 4:30 daily) on the highway in town.

WHERE TO FIND PERMITS

AND PARKS

Sno-Park permits cost $3 daily, $20 yearly. (Fines are steep--$75 to $200--for parking without a permit visible on the dashboard.) They're sold at some forest ranger stations and small stores near the parking sites.

To buy a permit before heading up to the mountains, check at ski shops or any California State Automobile Association office. Or send a check to California Parks and Recreation (Attention: Reservations), Box 942896, Sacramento 94296. Specify the date for which you need the permit; delivery takes at least two weeks.

For a statewide list and maps, request Recreational Guide to California Sno-Park Sites ($3) from the above address.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Echo Lake, Echo Summit, Coyote Sno-Park
Author:Finnegan, Lora J.
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Words:529
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