There is nothing quite like the High Sierras if you really want to get away from the crowds and there are few places as beautiful as these mountains. Unfortunately, many of the most picturesque spots are inaccessible by vehicles of any sort and most require a significant hike or overnight backpacking adventure. Tamarack Lake is a spectacular place high in the Sierras that is not only beautiful but is reasonably accessible as well.
Getting to Tamarack Lake does require a four-wheel drive vehicle PLUS it does require a short hike; about 2 miles of fairly easy trail. Do not attempt this run too early in the Spring as it will be covered in snow and do not attempt too soon after a rain or if rain is threatening as the trail becomes very difficult when wet and muddy.
To get to the lake, take Highway 395 North almost to the town of Bridgeport, California. Turn off 395 onto a dirt road that leads toward Green Lake. The road is well marked but do not go to Green Lake, instead bear right at the “Y” and follow the road through the trees and up the mountain to a parking spot at a hiking trailhead. (GPS: N38 08.602 W119 18.795) From there, follow the trail up the mountain to the lake. It is almost two miles with an elevation gain of about 700’ but the trail is good and not too difficult if you take your time. There are photo opportunities all along the trail with beautiful granite mountains, wildflowers and, if you are lucky, you may even get a picture of some wildlife.
Half the fun is using the 4WD to get to a place that few others will ever see, the other half of the fun is the PLUS . . . . just being there.
Have fun and don’t forget to pack emergency gear! (See http://exdirt.com/avoid-getting-stuck-trail/ for more info)