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The central Sierra: big trees, Dinkey Lakes.

The central Sierra: big trees, Dinkey Lakes It's the calm lap of lake water against a canoe, the crunch of pipe needles underfoot, and the squawk of a Steller's jay. Grocery stores stock white gas and night crawlers, T-bone steak reigns as king of the restaurant menu, and you're never more than 10-minute hike from some heart-tugging view of granite peaks.

This is summer in the central Sierra Nevada Compared with Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon natioanl parks next door, the region doesn't get much attention. Even at popular Bass, Shaver, and Huntington lakes, you should be able to reserve a cabin, campsite, or pack trip saddle for a few days, if you're flexible about dates. And thanks to March's snow-storms, the lakes should be fuller than they've been in years.

We've divided the region into two tours: one centered on Bass Lake, the second on Shaver and Huntington.

Bass Lake, big rocks,

big view, big trees

Bass Lake's shores are dotted with resorts that range from glossy to rustic (see box), while the lake's waters hold salmon, trout, swimmers, and water-skiers.

North Fork, 10 miles south, deserves a visit. At the junction of roads 225 and 228, you can see the Sierra Mono Museum's displays of basketry and beadwork. Hours are 9 to 4 Mondays through Saturdays; admission is $1.50.

North Fork is also the start of the Forest Service's new Sierra Vista Scenic Byway -- the most spectacular little-known drive in California. The 90-mile route (16 miles of it unpaved gravel) follows, Mammoth (at points called Minarets) and Beasore roads as they climb with the San Joaquin River canyon to put you within sight of the Sierra crest, then descend again to take you near two must-see detours; Fresno Dome, a view-filled out-cropping reached by an easy 1 1/2-mile round-trip hike; and 1,500-acre Nelder Grove, whose giant sequoias include the Bull Buck Tree, once through to be the largest in the world.

For a free pamphlet describing the byway and detours, stop at the Sierra National Forest's Minarets District Ranger Office, off Main Street in North Fork.

Shaver Lake to Mono Hot Springs,

and a trip to Dinkey Creek

Shaver and Huntington lakes were born in the early 1900s as part of the largest hydroelectric project in California. Today, 5,500-foot Shaver throbs with power-boats and water-skiers; at 7,000 feet, Huntingdon sits high enough that boat engines sputter, and canoes and sailboats maintain a serene reign. Huntington also serves as a base for good hiking: a favorite trip is the 5-mile climb from D & F Pack Station to College Rock.

Above Huntington, State Highway 168 turns into Kaiser Pass Road as it narrows to one lane and twists up to 9,175-foot Kaiser Pass and a top-of-the-world view of bristlecone pines and glaciated granite. If then descend slightly to take you to Mono Hot Springs (see box) and the entrance to Ansel Adams Wilderness.

From Shaver Lake, another good side trip runs south on Dinkey Creek Road. In 12 miles, you reach Rock Creek Road, the access to Dinkey Lakes Wilderness; 7 miles farther is the Mckinley Grove of giant sequoias, as fine a stand of big trees as you'll see in a national park.
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Title Annotation:Last-Minute Vacation '91; includes related summer vacation planner
Publication:Sunset
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:539
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