Lakes Basin

Sierra Buttes SP12-12

The Lakes Basin Recreation Area constitutes the most scenic area in the Sierras north of Lake Tahoe. It exists in a basin of sorts south of Graegle (along Highway 70/89) and north of Sierra City (along Highway 49):

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There are literally dozens of lakes in the appropriately named Lakes Basin: some little and modest, others larger and situated in glacial bowls. My chance to photograph Lakes Basin was very brief: merely one evening and one morning. Evenings are a challenge to photograph Lakes Basin, since all the easily accessible lakes are to the west of Gold Lake Highway, facing right into the evening sun. I did, however, get off a few decent snaps at Salmon Lake:

Salmon Lake SP12-5

Salmon Lake SP12-20

Salmon Lake SP12-23


In the morning, I concentrated all my attention to the Sierra Buttes, which, at 8,000 feet in elevation, constitute the most dramatic formations in the area. Three bodies of water reflect these magnificent Buttes: Upper Sardine Lake, Lower Sardine Lake, and Sand Pond. My initial efforts were at Upper Sardine Lake, which required about a half-mile hike. I rose at 4:30 in the morning and ventured forth to tackle Upper Sardine Lake, reaching the shoreline around 5:15. I then proceeded to get various shots from various locations around the eastern shoreline:

Sierra Buttes SP12-15

Sierra Buttes SP12-24

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Sierra Buttes SP12-86


And from the trail to Upper Sardine Lake:

Sierra Buttes SP12-91

Next I proceeded to Lower Sardine Lake for a few quick snaps:

Sierra Buttes SP12-104

And finally, a shot from Sand Pond:

Sierra Buttes SP12-141