Photo of Highland Lakes, Alpine County, CA

Highland Lakes Fishing

Alpine County

Photo of Highland Lakes

Highland Lakes

Highland Lakes in Alpine County, California, are at the end of a 5-mile road which veers off Highway 4 near the summer of Ebbetts Pass. Although the mostly dirt road deters some travelers, it can be negotiated by 2-wheel drive vehicles by mid-summer when a small stream crossing has become little more than a puddle. The drive to the lakes is worth the bumpy time spent getting there.

Highland Lakes are unique in that one of them drains south into the Stanislaus River watershed while the other discharges its water north into the Mokelumne River drainage. The two lakes are at an elevation of 8,500 feet. Open shorelines offer good fly fishing and spin casting. Float tubes work well on the lakes except when the wind comes up.

If you hike out a short distance out from the second lake you come to a vantage point where you are looking southwest down Highland Creek toward the area around Spicer Meadow Reservoir and the Dardanelles. Trails from around Highland Lakes lead into the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness and connect with the Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River.

In My Creel

  • Panther Martin
  • Rooster Tail
  • Woolly Bugger
  • Adams
  • Gulp Power Eggs
  • crickets

From the good people at Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods in Arnold I learned that fish were taking bait as well as lures and flies, so I decided to give them all a try. With my car right there at hand, switching gear was no problem. I wasn't patient enough for the bait, however, and wind made fly casting difficult, so I used the lures most of the time.

Getting to Herring Creek Reservoir

Highland Lakes are on the western side of Ebbetts Pass (Highway 4), less than a mile from the summit. From the western side, follow Highway 4 from Angels Camp through Arnold and beyond Lake Alpine and the Pacific Grade Summit. Watch for the turnoff as you near the top of the pass. From the east side go south through Markleeville and pick up Highway 4 at the Monitor Pass turn.

Photo of Highland Lakes

The first mile of the Highland Lakes Road is paved. Then it becomes a sometimes bumpy dirt road. Although you may want a high-clearance vehicle, 4-wheel drive is not required. A single stream crossing early in the summer may cause problems, however. Highland Lakes are probably best fished late in the summer when mosquitoes have abated, anyway.

Four miles of dirt road lead directly to the lakes, following along their shoreline. Easy parking is available anywhere along the lakes.

Accommodations and Supplies

From Highland Lakes you can zip over the pass and drop down the eastern side to Markleeville where you will find accommodations. For a special treat, try Sorenson's Resort over on Highway 88. Back down the western side of the pass Lake Alpine Resort rents a variety of cabins, including simple tent cabins. At Bear Valley you can find fancier lodging.

Photo of Highland Lakes Campground

Highland Lakes Campground

Fishing supplies can be purchased locally at the following places:

Highland Lakes Campground is situated right beside the lakes, making a convenientplace to set up your tent or park your RV. Four miles back on the road is Bloomfield Campground. Many people opt for "dispersed camping" along the road. You can find more campsites farther down Highway 4 on either side of the pass.

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To find the very best campgrounds in the area and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.

For complete information about camping and fishing around the Highland Lakes and all up and down Ebbetts Pass, see Ebbetts Pass Adventures.

logo saying Ebbetts Pass Adventures

Recommended Lures, Books and Maps for Fishing Highland Lakes

Photo of Highland Lakes


The North Fork of the Mokelumne River empties from the larger of the Highland Lakes and flows northwest along the approach road. Beyond Bloomfield Campground it leaves the road and for the next 2 miles meanders through meadows, offering some nice fishing for pan-size trout.

Photo of Highland Lakes

Other Nearby Featured Trips in Alpine County: