A body of crystal-clear water ringed by granite slabs—how Sierra perfect is that? Long Lake, in the Tahoe National Forest's Serene Lakes group off the Soda Springs exit on Interstate 80, is a favorite summertime destination for families that count dogs as members. Get there early on weekends to claim a perch from which you can throw sticks to Rover all day.
A high-clearance vehicle is desirable but not mandatory for negotiating Kidd Lake Road, a rutted gravel lane that departs from the parking lot on Highway 50 and leads to Deer Lake Girl Scout Camp, the now-abandoned Pahatsi Boy Scout Camp and PG&E's Kidd Lake group campground. It dead-ends after 4.8 miles at a clearing overlooking Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes, where there is ample parking. Scramble down an incline, walk over the dam and follow the easy Palisade Creek Trail about half a mile to your destination. You will find clear, cold water and gorgeous granite outcrops all along the shore. The setting, with 7,533-foot Devils Peak rearing like a sentinel in the background, is nothing short of sublime.
Long Lake is quite popular on summer weekends, but during the week you might have it all to yourself. Don't forget drinking water and food; it can seem a long haul back to civilization.
Photo: "Long Lake" - Janet Fullwood, DogTrekker