I am interested in checking out the Round Top area. I have checked the page and if I am reading right it seems like all the camping is limited to backpacking in and camping? Am I reading that wrong? I was wanting to take the family, but they are not into hiking out to camp, is there a place that just has standard campsite? I am also assuming since I am coming up from Fresno I will take the turn off in Stockton correct, maybe 3-4 hours from Fresno? What about in the area around Round Top, any stores, gas, heck even lodging? Sorry for all the questions just never been to this area before, we always got to either Kings/Sequoia Park, I thought we would check this place out to mix it up a little. One more question, is mid to late Sept. a good time, is it crowded? Thanks again..
There are several large FS drive-in campgrounds in the area: Silver Lake, Caples Lake, Woods Lake all have campgrounds. I'd call ahead and ask about availability, but my guess would be that mid-late September would be on the less-busy side. Most of these campgrounds are in the $20/night range. Kirkwood Lake is a pack-in campsite, so there won't be any loud RVs starting up in the morning. I haven't stayed there, but I don't think its a long walk or anything. Certainly not a backpack to get there.
Camping in the Carson Pass/Round Top zone is limited to several backcountry sites, but they're not really far from the parking lot (probably 5ish miles to get to the Round Top Lake sites). Its a pretty area to day-hike in if your family's into that...you can park at the pass and at Woods Lake for $5.
Kirkwood Ski Resort has lots of different lodging options from hotel-style rooms to suites...tends to be a bit pricey. Not sure if they're open in September though, since their summer operations shut down around Labor Day. You could call and ask them as well. If its open, they have a small (but pretty well-stocked) grocery store. There is gas (expensive!) as well, and its possible some of the other resorts have gas. Other than that the closest groceries are likely in South Lake Tahoe/Meyers - about 45 minutes away.
Getting there from Stockton is easy - just take 88 east all the way. In the winter it consistently takes me about 1.5 hours from Stockton, might be a bit faster in the summer.
I took a 4 and 6 year old there on their first backpacking trip. Everyone including the 4 year old made it despite a bit of whining (I have no illusions she's going to be the next Sierra Richins). It's a pretty and easy hike. We hiked out past the Woods Lake car campground, and were all reminded how nice it was to have spent the night in a quiet and uncrowded backcountry site just a few miles away from the radios, beer coolers, and fat mammas in beach chairs yelling at their kids.
I was at Round Top for the first time a couple of weeks ago, camped at Round Top Lake. A little crowded as the weekend rolled around, but real nice. Here are some shots:
Forgive me for being redundant, I also dropped this in the Ski thread. Looking forward to some snow up there on my next trip.
There are a couple of shots of Woods Lake at the end of the set. I had heard good things about it but wasn't knocked out. It felt a little claustrophobic after a few days in the high country and the weather was coming in, that probably didn't help.
Kirkwood Lake sounds interesting - I want to take my girlfriend up there and we like walk-in sites. Thanks for the insight.