|1. Let's get started with a view of the lake from Wrinkle Cove|
|2. Just a basic bike-medium sized tires (not skinny and not fat) and just seven gears. It's all you need!|
|3. Much of the trails look like this-a mix of dirt and small gravel.|
|4. Lots to see, including wildflowers...|
|5...and our famous "tombstone" style rocks.|
|6. The lake is blessedly full and can be seen from many vantage points.|
My favorite place to park is at Wrinkle Cove. It's ideally situated in the middle of the long Cameron Trail which runs, end to end, about 3 miles. If you do the entire route in a loop it is about 6 miles, give or take, and is the perfect distance for someone who hasn't biked in awhile or maybe a family with smaller children. (You can start too from the Observation Point parking lot which is where the admin. office is-they have very nice bathrooms also with flush toilets-yippee!)
The first pic shows a view of the lake from the parking lot. People also launch their kayaks from this spot. As you ride your bike across the parking lot and hop on the trail, you will notice that the trail is comprised of small rocks and dirt (see pic 3). It's why your bike should have the medium sized tires-not a road bike or a mountain bike but somewhere in the middle. And be careful! Don't go too fast since the trail is shared by walkers and people with their dogs. Best to have a bell on the handlebars. Along the way you will see lots of oak trees of course and the occasional pine tree. The grasses right now are a mix of green and gold, leaning towards the golden color that is so "California." There are even some wildflowers still hanging around (see pic 4). Be sure to look for the "tombstone" style rocks (pic 5) which are so abundant in the foothills. This article describes what these rocks are and is worth a read.
Once you reach the end of this small trail, you can turn around and head back towards the parking lot. Hop back onto the longer section of the Cameron Trail and head towards Inspiration Point and Park Headquarters. There is one steep hill towards the end and I am not ashamed to say that I get off my bike to walk up that hill. Other than that the trail has some fun curves, longer stretches and some very manageable short hills. Be sure to stop for a look at the view-the lake is visible from all points (see pic 6). You could stop at the top to have a picnic (there are some tables in the shade) or find another spot in the park. There are many areas that have picnic tables that are only a short walk from your car (Fiddleneck Boat Launch area). More biking can be done throughout the actual campgrounds. The paths are paved and meant for cars so they are easy on the tires. (There are also restrooms there with flush toilets.)
Being at this lake, on your bike (or even on foot), is a fun way to spend the morning and perfect for beginning cyclists. The routes are well marked and easy to find. Parking is ample and the place is quiet, particularly during the week. The lake is accessible from all points in Calaveras County in anywhere from an hour or so to 15 minutes. From outside town of course it takes a little longer but is a good side trip on your way to wherever you are going. Have fun and be safe!