Lake Hogan - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
Valley Springs, CA
Lake Hogan offers drive in tent and RV campsites for dry camping. There are dump stations and restrooms. As I live only a couple minutes from the lake I have never camped here but the campgrounds always appear clean and well kept. The park rangers are friendly and have even helped me load my Tarpon 140 on top of my car at the end of a long day on the water. Additionally there is a boat in only campground with pit toilets and lantern hangers as well as a wonderful group campsite that has private restrooms, shelter and cove for anchoring / beaching the boats. I believe the minimum is 10 people for that site.
There is no marina here although the lake is only a few minutes from town. In town you will find several restaurants and services [I recommend the Thai restaurant]. There is also a small hotel called The 10th Green Inn about 10 minutes away. My parents stay there when they visit; while not a 5 star resort it's clean and in good repair with a friendly staff.
Lake Hogan is a medium sized lake and allows all types of water craft. On weekends and holidays it is very busy and can get a bit crazy. I enjoy variation myself and like to paddle through the churned up water on occasion so I do go out there on some weekends. Also the wind can pick up in the eves and for these reasons I would rate the difficulty as medium.
On weekdays the lake is almost empty. For those of you who don't like jet skis and power boats that's the time to come. The elevation is only a couple hundred feet so it will be hot in the summer [90-100+]. The water is only slightly cold; in fact I would call it cool. Whatever you call it, it feels great on those hot days. Fishing during the week is pretty good but forget about it on weekends and holidays.
There are several islands and many coves to explore. The area is populated with lots of wildlife but don't expect to see much of it on those weekends and holidays. During the week it abounds. On those days you can expect to paddle up to grazing deer, follow the geese around, etc.
If you decide to come here for the day I recommend avoiding Wrinkle Cove. It is the first place you will come upon and is the swimming hole. This is where all of the riff-raft from the valley ends up. It is generally crowded and occupied by loud obnoxious drunks. It also closes at dusk.
Instead drive right on past Wrinkle Cove in the direction of the boat launch. Just before the launch the road splits...go left here to the campgrounds. The second to last campground offers a guest parking lot that is open 24/7. Parking is free. You will have to get your kayak a few hundred feet to the water. About 2/3 of the way is paved and the rest is dirt and rocks. If the guest lot is full there is another at the last campground [just continue down the road] though it is a hike to the lake from there.
Hogan is a scenic lake in the foothills with lots to offer for everyone. You can come for just the day or for an extended stay. There are also awesome mountain bike trails for all skill levels surrounding the lake, accessible from the campgrounds and parking lots. Just remember what I wrote about the weekends and Wrinkle Cove.
Drive in tent and RV camping with restrooms and dump stations. No hook-ups so far as I know.
Boat/Drive in private group camp site with private restroom, beach/cove and shelter, I think the minimum is 10.
Boat in only campground with pit toilets and lantern hangers. Great for night paddling...bring your lights.
Minimal fees for camping, call ahead for prices and reservations.
>From south of Stockton take Highway-99 North to Highway-26 East. After about 30 miles or so on Highway-26 you will see a sign on the right for the lake; just before the Chevron station. Go to the right there and you will soon see the lake on your left. You will want to make a left as soon as the lake is visible.
>From north of Stockton take Highway-99 South to Highway-12 East. Stay on 12 East until you come to the only [highway] stop sign in Valley Springs. Turn right at the stop sign and go a mile or two [west on Highway-26]. Look for the sign to the lake; turning left just after the Chevron station. Follow the road a mile or so until you see the lake. You will want to make a left as soon as the lake is visible.
Park services on the web.
If you look close you will find where the river feeds into the lake. It is off of Highway-12. With one car at the campground and another parked here you can paddle into the lake through a canyon. The journey back to the campgrounds is several miles and the wind can be strong so this is not for beginners but is a great time. The canyon part of the journey is short but this is one of my favorites at this lake. Bring food, water, sun block, a hat and shades. Also be prepared for a short hike and a climb down to the river with your kayaks...this is for the adventurists out there. Hike your kayak over the fence and go right when the road ends. After a few yards look for a way down on the left, there is a cattle trail there [and possibly cattle]. You will not be trespassing, this is public land and there are signs for lake Hogan there stating what you are doing is allowed, the fence is to keep out cars and trucks. There is a people gate designed to keep the cattle in provided. Get there early as the limited parking fills up fast with gold panners.
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