Late last summer, when northern California's boat convoys were splitting to Lake Tahoe and Lake Shasta, MB Sports president Mike Brendel went off with his small crew for a photo shoot to neither. Instead, they charged directly between No Cal's most frequented lakes and headed toward one that looked like an eye in the middle of the big-lake storms.
I couldn't believe nobody was there, even on the weekend, well-traveled photographer Tom King said about Bullards Bar.
Some call Bullards Bar a small replica of Tahoe. The shoreline is one continuous snake into coves and bays, all of which are surrounded by two national forests and snow-capped mountains in the near distance. The biggest differences are the people (absent) and the water, which at 2,000 feet is tepid (70 degrees) instead of freezing (Tahoe is practically ice).
Only a few people know the way to the reservoir, and if a sharp navigator isn't sharing the front seat, a map might not be enough. Heck, there are gas-station attendants in Yuba County who can't point visitors in the right direction. So they wind up back in the pack, headed away from the eye of the storm.
First impression: Unusually emerald-green water similar to the tropics, but with white mountains instead of white sand in reach.
From Sacramento: 100 miles
Be aware of: Poison oak in low-lying areas, where feet haven't trampled the ground.
Best known for: Being in the Golden Chain. (People still pan for gold here.)
Miles of shoreline: 60
You should experience: Some of the 500 miles of biking and hiking trails in the Tahoe National Forest.
You might experience: The Coyote Classic Bicycle Races in Nevada City.
Slalom courses: Portables only.
Where you'll sleep: On a houseboat from the Emerald Cove Resort and Marina (530-692-3200) located at the south end of the lake. They also rent MB 190s daily and weekly.
Local Flavor: Burgers off your own Smokey Joe on your houseboat or at your campsite.
Secret: Keep your friends away by telling them about the mountain lions that have been spotted in the woods.
Advice: Bring strong bug spray in case bees are a problem like they were two years ago.
Directions: Generally, take Highway 49 north from Sacramento to Marysville Road, then go west about 6 miles.
Best contacts: Emerald Cove Resort and Marina.
Categories: Site to Ski