Home Trips Overland Trip: Lake Alpine, CA
Overland Trip: Lake Alpine, CA

Overland Trip: Lake Alpine, CA

I had a great solo trip to Lake Alpine on the Corral Hollow Trail in July 2012. It’s a great drive if you leave around noon on a Friday. In the summer months you are there before the sun goes down. It takes about three to four hours.

 Bear Valley Map

The camping crates were already packed, so only about 45 minutes to hit the highway.

Stopped by the store on the way out to get cold goods. I usually eat pre-packaged food. On one night i’ll make a full meal with a good hunk of meat.

Turned the music up, hit the road and enjoyed the country. In the bay area the rig is quite a spectacle, especially when loaded down. I find the further east I go, the more I tend to blend in. Filled up closer to my destination so I had more fuel for trekking around.

On the road again. The urban landscape quickly gives way to agriculture and then huge spans of grassland as you head east.

If you are exhausted after a long week I have a tip for this section of the trip. Get a super gulp at the gas station full of ice. Just ice. Also get a Red Bull and just eat the ice as you travel down the road. Pour that Red Bull over the ice and take a sip from time to time. You will NOT fall asleep.

As you head up the mountain the grasslands give way to high Sierra mountain passes. Beautiful!

To get to Corral Hollow, you will almost reach the Bear Valley Ski Resort. If you reach Bear Valley, you have gone too far! Just after the Alpine County line sign, you will see a hidden turn left.

You’ve arrived!

Before hitting the trail, get out and inspect your vehicle. Tighten it up. The trail is about to get bumpy. Cinch everything down. If you are like me, the last thing you want is to have rattles, and things sliding around your truck or rack!

Heading out!

Take a few pit stops to check out the scenery!

After a few miles of trail, it opens up into  a beautiful meadow. In July, the plants are super green, and wildflowers will make her go, “Ooooooo”.

Yes. Please do.

Distant mountain ranges are awesome as you climb higher.

This is mostly for fun. I really can’t help myself. I could have avoided the rock!

So, climbing up the mountain I saw a “small” stump. I thought I could clear it so I straddled it, placing a tire on each side. I know better. The differential struck the stump and stopped the truck dead in its tracks, throwing me against the seat belts. I got out at the top of the trail and inspected the rig. No damage. Lesson: Put a tire on large rocks and stumps and drive over them. Most things under your truck do not react well to bullet….er, objects.

Arriving at the bluff camp will take your breath away. I’ve been to Corral Hollow 5 times. This site has never been taken. In fact, I have only ever ran into 2 other rigs driving on this trail.

This is a cliff. A real cliff. like…a real cliff. It is stunning.

Unpacking and unpacking. If you did it right, this doesn’t take long at all.

When I set up my camp kitchen i do tend to get a little compulsive.

Kitchen set up…its time to set up the tent and gather firewood.

When you get settled, its fun to get your bearings. It is often surprising after an hour on the trail to see how far off your internal compass is. I often think, “no friggin way”.

My first night, I’m usually tired, and I don’t want to deal with a lot of dishes and cleanup. Actually, I don’t want to deal with any dishes or cleanup 🙂 This is the perfect meal for me. Open the stew can and stir. Eat enough bread to fill the hole. Warming it up is just plain unnecessary.

Gather your wood before the sun goes down 😉

Good night day 1.

After cold cereal and a cup of coffee, I got a pretty early start down the trail. When you head out in the morning, place your food containers in the shade. You don’t want it in the sun all day.

Not a bad view.

You really need to check out Slick Rock Trail. To get there – go back to the main road and head towards Bear Valley. Go a few miles and just after the road turns to a 1 lane road, turn right into the campground and keep going. its just before the Lake Alpine store and restaurant. Slick Rock leads to a river that crosses the trail. Its a great place to take the family and hang out for the day. Don’t go beyond this if you are alone or your rig is stock. It is a very technical and difficult trail. I’ve run it twice and it is a blast. Definitely do it if you are correctly outfitted and with others. What a blast.

Cross this stream to great lunch spots.

Park your rig for the day and have a great time!

Again – I like to eat light. This is fast with no dishes. You could splash some hot sauce on it but hell, this ain’t the Ritz Carlton and that just might be a little sissy.

Had a great time trekking around.

Don’t be “that guy”. Go slow enough to avoid the trees. They don’t move very fast, so that should be simple enough.

…and just when you think you are the baddest rig on the trail…

I came back up to Lake Alpine and got in a great round of fishing. I HEAR there are 13″ trout in this lake. Apparently they are allergic to my bait.

Just to feel civilized its nice about this time to head to the restaurant and get a real meal (and a pint)

Remember that stump I talked about? Here it is. This time I did it right.

Put a tire on it and go over!

This is the way to take a rock, stump or other obstacle that cannot be avoided!

The second night was about relaxing and a real meal. I usually pick one night to cook a good piece of meat.

Again, I don’t really like dishes, and this method results in a great tasting perfectly cooked piece of meat if you do it right. Check out the blog for some tips.


On the second night I managed to keep myself entertained until 11:00PM howling at the moon. What a great time to reflect! Goooood night night 2.

In the morning…its time to pack up and head out.

Home again home again, I bit dirtier than when I left.















Backwoods country bumpkin. Overland enthusiast and lover of the great outdoors.


  1. Corral Hollow trail should open early due to the limited snowfall. Does anyone know this year’s predictions for the Bib Bear area?
    Thank you for the trip video down the trail. I am looking forward to stretching my new rigs legs, and to try out some of your equipment ideas. I plan to bring a chain saw to minimally clear trail. Slip Rock looks like a fun trip for grandson, son and me to take. Stanislaus Recreational National Forest area is in our future. Thank you!

    1. All the forest roads in Stanislaus National Forest open on April 15 and close on December 15 each year. I called the ranger station asking and they told me it never gets changed even though the official word is that it is as weather permits.

  2. I’ve been subscribed to your youtube channel for a while now but only today saw the overland trip video you posted last year. I’m looking to do an easy overland trip to get my feet wet this or next month and looks like this trail is a nice one to check out.

    With all of the fire restrictions, do you know if a camp fire would even be allowed? I’ve tried to research and it seems like they’re restricted unless its inside of an installed fire ring. I have my campfire permit and can just use a propane stove/grill but camp fires makes evenings much better.

    Thanks for the info!

  3. Hey Rob, Good news! I gave the Calavaras Ranger station a call and they let me know that the Lake Alpine area is a low danger zone, and campfires are allowed with a permit in a pre-existing fire ring. Have a great trip and share some pics in our forums! You can confirm and contact them here:

    Calaveras District
    5519 Highway 4
    PO Box 500
    Hathaway Pines, CA 95233
    (209) 795-1381

    1. Thanks Michael! didn’t expect a quick reply or you to contact them for me but thank you so much!

      Was hoping I could make it out to the off the grid rally next month but already have some commitments that weekend. Thanks again!

  4. I have a stock 2015 Toyota 4Runner 4wd, do you think this is a good beginner trail? The video looks great, hoping to go in a couple days. Any other recs on beginner trails in the area. Thanks- Nate