A poll of Stockton grade school kids reveals that half have never seen real snow and fewer have ever fished. Change that; slide on Sierra snow or cast a line for trout in less than two hours!
From Stockton, take Highway 4 east to Copperopolis, go south on O Bryrne’s Ferry Road, then east on Highway 108. Just 20-30 miles past Sonora (depending on snow level), you’re in snow country. Snows generally last until late April/May, though later in the season, snow levels are higher.
From Long Barn and east (5,000 feet elevation), you’ll usually find snow beside the road. More than a few places allow you to turnout, find the nearest gentle slope and let kids cavort in the white stuff with sleds, tubes or cardboard.
A bit higher up Hwy 108, just above Pinecrest Lake, Dodge Ridge Ski Resort (209.965.3474). offers chairlifts and surface lifts and gentle slopes for beginning skiers and snowboarders. The resort does not allow sledding or tubing, but you can visit the Family Lodge, have lunch or hot chocolate and consider skiing, snow-boarding, or a lesson (as of this writing, Dodge plans to close on April 7). Dodge Ridge’s access road offers several places where you can use those sleds or inner tubes!
For those who want to try fishing, picturesque Lyon’s Reservoir, Pinecrest Lake and Beardsley Reservoir offer lively fishing. You can also find access to the South Fork, Stanislaus River or Clavey River (stream season opens April 26). Get a license at WalMart or Big 5 in Sonora, or Cold Springs Market. To discover what waters are open and maps, contact Stanislaus National Forest in Mi Wuk, (209.532.3671).
Good eats: Villa D’Oro (209.586.2182) in Twain Harte, Pie in the Ski Pizza, Sugar Pine, (209.586.4251) or Steam Donkey, Pinecrest (209.965.3117) offer reliable family dining! Overnight at Christmas Tree Inn in Mi Wuk, Long Barn Lodge or Strawberry Inn, all along Hwy 108. Pack cold weather gear, and, chains if winter weather is forecast!