Canoing in the High Sierras

Recently, my sweet husband took me to a lovely corner of the high Sierras where you can camp anywhere you can reach by watercraft.  Utica Reservoir in the Stanislaus National Forest, a few hours from the Bay Area is a surprising getaway not well known to Bay Area locals. It adjoins sister Union Reservoir but only Utica is reserved for non-motorized watercraft.

Utica is a reservoir of calm once you leave the ruckus of the launch pad at the edge of the crowded main camp.   The landscape is expansive yet intimate.  The reservoir itself is about the right size for a casual paddle, not too large to get stranded yet with enough cosy inlets for exploration.   These photos do not do it any justice as it looks like just a bunch of batholiths with pine trees growing it.

Winds pick up in the afternoon making for sore arms, calm in the morning

You can leisurely canoe about looking for spots to establish camp and the further you paddle, better your chances to find a hidden gem. It's no more than an hour at slow paddle from one end to the other.  Sometimes you have to hop off and investigate as it's not clear a spot is a veritable camping palace just from the water.

When you spot a landing like this, hop out and investigate!

We lucked out on a roomy site with firepit,  hammockable trees, and an extraordinary backyard for exploration so you don't feel hemmed in by the water. 

Site #1 Roomy enough for parties of 6-8.
Half the fun out of the water is clambering over batholiths to get different views of the reservoir.

more pictures of rock, pine, and water
The next morning, we canoed around looking for other camp sites for our next visit, and spotted a whole rock island you can commandeer.

A private rock island all to yourselves...

Private rock island is exceedingly romantic suitable for newlyweds and old couples alike.

The rock island had a primitive fire pit and a few well protected cosy tent spots.

My husband fished without much success, nary a bite! I also tried snorkeling but the water was near opaque at depth greater than 6ft and not too much to see.  Also evidence of geese migration everywhere.  I was paranoid of swallowing dirty water but did not get sick or a rash.

Baby trout hanging out in the sunny shallows.

Although pine trees dominate the landscape, some stone crops are flowering this time of the year.
Utica Reservoir is a special place to make memories and refill your own reservoir of peace and contemplation.