CBDT 3 - 12
Our camp at Watts Lake. Photo: Gregory McDonald

Our fourth day on the California Backcountry Discovery Trail, found us waking at Watt’s Lake. Our goal for the day was to zig-zag east to Ruth Lake. Unlike Watts Lake, Ruth Lake was bigger than a swimming pool and actually had water in it. From what we’d heard, it was quite nice.

To get there we took 1S07 and 1S11 past the Lassics Botanical Area. One of the mountains looked like a little volcano but our Forest Service stated that this wasn’t the case.

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Photo: Gregory McDonald

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According to our Forest Service notes, that little mountain isn't a volcano. Photo: Gregory McDonald

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Photo: Gregory McDonald

At a bend in the road we found a nice meadow and stopped to do a bit of target shooting.

Photo: Gregory McDonald

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Natalie lines up the sights. Photo: Gregory McDonald

A little further down the road. I heard Greg say over the radio that something big and black had just run in front of his truck. I immediately thought “Bigfoot!” but he said it was a cow. Sure enough, we rounded the bend and there were four cows standing in front of Greg’s Montero.

We attempted to drive around them but they ran along side the side of the road. Not wanting to startle them, we slowed down but this only prolonged their run. Does anyone have advice on the best way to pass a cow?

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Natalie says hello to one horse, while the other contemplates having his nose rubbed. Photo: Gregory McDonald

Then the other horse comes down and Greg says hello. Photo: Natalie Menacho

We stopped and said hello to some horses off of Hwy. 502. Within a couple of minutes their owner drove up, saying he didn’t recognize our trucks as local. He was nice guy. We introduced ourselves and had a friendly chat.

We took 1S06, an easy dirt road, along the western side of the lake and got our first good look at the basin at its northern end, where the lake flows through a dam into the Mad River. I gave a little salute, since I have a Mad River canoe at home. 🙂

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Our first look at Ruth Lake. Photo: Gregory McDonald

It really was as pretty as we’d hoped. We made our way to the Fir Cove Campground on the lake’s eastern shore. The campground is situated in a canyon perpendicular to the lake. We picked the site that was closest to the shore. When got there in the afternoon, the wind was blowing from the lake. By evening though the wind shifted and blew down the canyon making us downwind of the toilets. If you go, pick a site that’s not on the toilet/canyon/lake axis.

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Photo: Gregory McDonald

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Our camp at Fir Cove. Again, Greg got the hard-core camper award for his minimalist set up (in foreground). Photo: Gregory McDonald

After a quick shave and a clean up, we headed out for pizza at a place up the road called Journey’s End. Check it out. The food was good and they had a nice open-air stage set up on the back deck for live music.

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Shaving outback-style with the Montero's handy, outward-folding mirrors. Photo: Gregory McDonald

We liked Ruth Lake enough to stay for a couple of days of attempted bass fishing, campfires, and Settlers of Catan showdowns. It really is a jewel in the middle of nowhere.


CBDT Notes:

From Watts Lake to Ruth Lake on the zig-zagging CBDT was about 40 miles of easy dirt and pavement.

Travel time: With various stops it took up 4.75 hours.

Gas can be had at Ruth Lake but it’s expensive ($4.79 when we were there in September 2012).


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CBDT, Part 1: Lake Pillsbury
CBDT, Part 2: Dead Deer, Live Deer, Eel River Work Station
CBDT, Part 3: What’s up Watts Lake?
CBDT, Part 4: Ruth Lake, Jewel of the Middle of Nowhere
CBDT, Part 5: Bear Den, Coyote Tracks, Camp Site
CBDT, Part 6: Best Campsite Ever
CBDT, Part 7: Obviously Not Bigfoot