Wrights Lake is one of those special places in the Sierra that draws people back year after year. Tucked away in the Crystal Basin, Wrights Lake is not as well-known as other more accessible mountain lakes. No motor boats are allowed on the lake, making it a tranquil destination for anglers and their families to spend lazy vacation days among the trees. A Forest Service campground next to the lake offers plenty of campsites for tents, RVs and trailers.
While some anglers set out in float tubes and kayaks to fish the deep water off shore, I found plenty of action around the shore of the lake.
Put away your hiking boots. You can drive all the way to Wrights Lake and park within a quarter mile of the shoreline. Two roads lead to the lake. Both are turnoffs from Highway 50 east of Placerville. Ice House Road, the main access to the Crystal Basin, turns off Highway 50 at Riverton, 21 miles east of Placerville. It is the preferred choice for anyone pulling a trailer or driving a large RV.
Follow Ice House Road for about 12 winding, uphill miles to Ice House Reservoir. From there watch for signs to Wrights Lake, another 10 miles.
A slightly shorter, but steeper, road leaves Highway 50 another 14 miles east of the Ice House Road turnoff. From there drive about 8 miles up to Wrights Lake.
Parking at Wrights Lake is limited to three designated parking areas. The largest, and perhaps most convenient, is off the main road just before you reach the lake. It is next to the equestrian campground. Other parking areas are at the trailheads at roads' ends on either side of the lake. On busy days they can fill quickly.
A well-marked and maintained Loop Trail leads around the perimeter of the lake, making it easy for anglers to move around the shoreline and try their luck in different places. Only non-motorized boats are allowed on the lake. Even electric motors are prohibited. A small hand-launch ramp is located near the picnic area on the west shore. Fishing is very good for rainbow trout. Toward the head of the lake are shallower, marshy areas. The feeder stream meanders lazily away from the lake to the north, offering some nice fly fishing spots.
Wrights Lake Campground has 67 campsites for tents, trailers, or RVs. Facilities include vault toilets, piped water, picnic tables, grills, and fire rings. Sites #1-19 have bear boxes.
Reservations: (877) 444-6777 or Recreation.gov - Wrights Lake Campground
To find the very best campgrounds in the Eastern Sierra and all across California, visit California's Best Camping.
Ice House Resort, about a dozen miles back near Ice House Reservoir, is open from mid-May through mid-October. Resort facilities include motel rooms, laundry, a store and restaurant, and tent and RV camping. (530) 293-3321
Along Highway 50 is the rustic Strawberry Resort. Motel rooms can be found in Pollock Pines and Placerville.
For more information about camping, lodging, boating, and fishing in the Crystal Basin area, see Discover Echo Summit.
On your way to Wrights Lake you can stop for fishing supplies in Placerville at Off the Hook Fly Shop, 1351 Broadway or at Mosquito Creek Outfitters, 3000 Mosquito Road. Big 5 Sporting Goods is located at 284 Placerville Drive.
Anyone coming from Lake Tahoe can find fishing gear at these locations in South Lake Tahoe.
Dark Lake, only a short stroll from Wrights Lake, is known as a very good fly fishing destination. For those who like a good hike before casting their lines, trails lead to Grouse Lake and to Twin Lakes in the Desolation Wilderness. The high country lakes take a good two hours of uphill hiking to reach. At the trailheads you can pick up a free wilderness permit required for day hiking in the Desolation Wilderness. Bring a pen so you can fill in the form.