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EID Recreation Opportunities: Perennial Community Favorites
Every year, EID’s recreation sites rank among the most popular destinations for campers, hikers, boaters, anglers, equestrians, photographers, and all-around nature lovers. Sly Park Recreation Area, located in Pollock Pines, serves more than 400,000 visitors annually. In 2015—for the ninth consecutive year—Sly Park was voted “Best Recreation Facility” by readers of the Mountain Democrat newspaper, as well as “Best Campground” on the KCRA 3 A-List.
Recreation Opportunities Abound
Whether you come to camp, or just spend the day hiking and enjoying the scenery, the amenities around Sly Park’s Jenkinson Lake are hard to beat. Day-use picnic areas are located throughout the park area. One large day-use area is located a half mile from the gatehouse entrance, and all are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Camping opportunities are plentiful. Sly Park features six group camps, equestrian campsites, an event center, a scout camp, and eight family campgrounds that contain a total of 191 individual sites, each with a picnic table, fire ring, and barbecue.
There is access to 30 miles of hiking, mountain bike, and equestrian trails around the lake and in the surrounding Eldorado National Forest land. Trailhead parking is located throughout the park. Visitors wishing to hike to the waterfall should use the Hazel Creek Meadow day use area, which is located four miles past the gatehouse entrance. Additional trailhead parking is located just past the second dam on Mormon Emigrant Trail at Bumpy Meadows.
Sly Park offers an excellent facility for larger groups, like wedding receptions and birthday parties. The scenic outdoor wooded setting at the Event Center includes lake views. Outside the facility there is plenty of room for up to 75 guests. There’s a barbeque area as well as picnic tables and a large deck overlooking the lake. Inside, the house can hold up to 46 people. There is one large room and a smaller room, as well as a full kitchen with a stove, refrigerator, and microwave.
Getting on the water is a breeze and there are many opportunities to rent kayaks, paddleboats, stand-up paddleboards and canoes on weekends at the Stonebraker boat launch between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day.
“EID takes pride in hosting the many thousands of families and friends who visit our recreation sites,” said EID Parks and Recreation Manager Greg Hawkins. “Not only do these facilities serve a vital role in our water and hydroelectric systems, but they are also the places where generations of our visitors return again and again to make lasting memories.”
Not only does it have beautiful facilities for recreation, Jenkinson Lake at the heart of Sly Park Recreation Area represents a vital component in EID’s drinking water system.
“Recreation is directly related to our core business of water,” said Hawkins. “All of our recreation facilities are located at or near EID drinking water sources and we recognize the need to manage recreational uses in a manner that preserves the high quality of water. Recreation’s continuing mission is to provide financially and environmentally sustainable recreation opportunities for our visitors while protecting water quality and the district’s resources.”
When EID purchased Jenkinson Lake from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, oversight of the lake changed from federal to state authority. The State of California does not allow body contact in drinking water reservoirs. Jenkinson Lake is one of approximately six drinking water reservoirs with an exemption from the “no body contact” regulation.
When the legislation was passed in 2006 allowing body contact to continue at the lake, certain legislative conditions were imposed. The conditions were: 1) to provide fencing and buoys at the second dam to protect the drinking water intake, 2) not allowing domestic animals in the water, and 3) not allowing diapers of any sort in the water. Violations of these conditions could result in the revocation of the “no body contact” exemption.
“No body contact is defined as not allowing wading, swimming, or boating of any kind for people or dogs,” said Hawkins. “Obviously, it would be devastating if we lost the exemption, so it is very important for park staff to enforce the rules.”
Additional Lakes and Recreational Sites
EID is mandated by the Project 184 hydroelectric license to operate Silver Lake West Campground, Silver Lake boat launch and day use facilities, Caples Lake boat launch facilities, and Forebay Reservoir.
Silver Lake is situated at an elevation of 7,200 feet and provides an excellent destination for high alpine recreation activities. Surrounded by the Eldorado National Forest, this exceptional location was a resting place along the Mormon Emigrant Trail established by Kit Carson. The summer recreation season at Silver Lake varies depending on snowpack and weather conditions. The goal is to open the facilities for Memorial Day weekend and remain open through October. Silver Lake boat launch includes a day-use area and there are 42 campsites in the Silver Lake West campground.
Caples Lake, at an elevation of 7,800 feet offers another excellent high alpine get-away. The area offers scenic picnicking areas, a boat ramp and access to trails entering the Mokelumne Wilderness to the south. The Caples Lake boat launch facility, which opened in 2010, also has day-use facilities and is open—weather permitting—Memorial Day weekend through October.
There is also a day-use facility at Forebay Reservoir in Pollock Pines. Forebay includes a delightful picnic area with fishing access. Forebay Reservoir—a no-body-contact reservoir—was created to regulate water flow to EID’s hydroelectric power generation facility. But it is also a great daytime recreation spot, perfect for barbeques, quiet walks, and fishing. The area is located on Forebay Road in Pollock Pines, just off Pony Express Trail at Highway 50’s Sly Park Road exit. The area is open from dawn to dusk.
Recreation’s operational costs are funded from the fees paid b ypark visitors. Annual passes maybe purchased online, by mail, or in person at the park entrance gatehouse. Annual passes are good for day use access to all three of EID’s recreational use lakes, which include facilities at Silver and Caples lakes in addition to Jenkinson at Sly Park.
For more information about Sly Park and EID’s other recreational facilities, please visit the recreation webpage at www.eid.org/recreation.
This article was featured in the May / June 2016 issue of The Waterfront.