Submitted by Teenie

Summer may be over according to the calendar but it’s not too late yet to indulge into camping.  It doesn’t take a lot of monies and travel times to find a spot near Modesto. 

   Camping Site:

 Two weeks ago, me and my friends’ families went camping at Cherry Lake in the heart of the Stanislaus National Forrest. Our first choice was Pincrest a few miles away, but is reservation only and not available then. Cherry lake Is 25 miles east of the city of Sonora at an elevation of 4659 feet on the western side of the Sierra Nevada and lies just outside the boundaries of Yosemite National Park. It takes you two hours 35 minutes (2 hr. 35 min) from Modesto and the GPS sets its direction as:

  • Take CA-108 E – 399 miles
  • Take the mono Way exit toward Route 108 – 0.6 miles
  • Turn right into Toulomne Road – 6.7 miles
  • Continue straight on Tuolomne Road – 0.2 miles
  • Turn left into Carter St – 0.3 miles
  • Turn right into Buchanan Road – 4.8 miles
  • Turn left into Cottonwood Road – 0.7 miles
  • Turn right into Cottonwood Road – 25 miles

And there you are at the gate entrance of the camping ground.  You may ask why I detailed you the route; yes, you guessed it right!!!  We got lost and spent additional two (2) hours to locate it due to fading cell signal!!!  We were distracted by the view along the way which was so relaxing and beautiful, what with tall, very green and perfect shaped pine trees.

Choosing a Camp Site:

Now you’re here, what to do next.  First you locate a camping site, put the reserve notice on the numbered camp site and go back to the entrance to pay.  This is an un-maned pay center.  You grab a pay envelop, put your details, insert the money and drop on a pay box.  You should do this 30 minute upon reserving the spot or else somebody has the chance to grab it.  It comes on a first come- first served basis. There are also some areas where you can also make prior reservations and another area like where we were at; a walk- up area which is not very common in most camping sites.

The Fees:

For Camp Unit          – $24 per unit, if double site- double fee @ $48

                                       (Holders of Federal seniors or Access Discount receive half off single overnight sites

Extra Vehicle             – $8


                                     *Free parking for a single vehicle

                                     *Camping area good for at least two large tents

                                     *Picnic table good for 8 persons

                                     *Fire pit (firewood is available at the gate for $8 enough to last overnight)

There is a toilet but no shower room.  Water source is only a fire hydrant.

The Lake:

Below the campground about 5-minute drive is a man-made lake so serene and picturesque!!!  It is so still that you can take a mirror photo.  Please refer to the picture below.  Isn’t it lovely?

Once night falls and the fire is on, it’s time for bar- b- que and of course the marshmallow grilling and making marshmallow sandwich with choco cookies.  The kids and the kids again (ahem, that’s us) enjoyed this simple pleasure.  By the way, there is no cell signal, so we were forced to talk, inter-act with each other, and sing while one was playing the guitar. We were surprised to be enjoying this uninterrupted bonding and inter-actions.

By 11:00 pm, we did retire to bed since we are supposed to respect silence till 6 am the following day.  The whole camp was enveloped by a deafening silence and blanketed by pitch black darkness.  Lucky for us there is no moon and we watched with awe the stars.  It is very rare that silence, loss of signal and therefore no cell phones dinging’s and darkness had been so welcomed and appreciated.  On the other hand, it also made us aware of the usefulness of technology and amenities. 

So you see, if we sum up this event, we only spent :

  1. Camp fee –      $24 less Federal Senior discount (Lucky for us one is) = $12
  2. Extra vehicle fee                                                                                            = $  8
  3. Gasoline (3/4 of a full tank)                                                                         = $30
  4. Food we just took what we would have eaten at home                             xxx
  5. Firewood                                                                                                          =$   8

Total                                                                                                                     $58

By the way, please remember to bring warm clothes as it gets very cold in the mountains at night.

Good luck and happy camping.  You won’t regret it, that’s a promise. What an experience!