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Visiting Sardine Lakes and the Sierra Buttes in Northern California

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

Sardine Lakes in the Sierra Buttes in Northern California

Nestled at the base of the Sierra Buttes in the Lakes Basin area of Tahoe National Forest are Upper and Lower Sardine Lake. Both lakes are perfectly framed by the dramatic Sierra Nevada mountain range, making for an impressive scene. Sardine Lakes are easily accessible and you can visit both lakes in one day trip to the area. The lakes are located off Gold Lake Highway near Sierra City in Northern California.


Sardine Lakes in the Sierra Buttes in Northern California

 Sardine Lakes in the Sierra Buttes in Northern California

Lower Sardine Lake is the larger of the two lakes and is a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding. Swimming is not encouraged on Lower Sardine Lake as not to disrupt the fisherman. Boat rentals are available at Sardine Lake Resort, which sits right on Lower Sardine Lake.


Sardine Lakes in the Sierra Buttes in Northern California

Upper Sardine Lake is about a 1/2 mile hike up a bumpy, rocky dirt road that starts to the right of Sardine Lake Resort. I recommend just walking up the road as I have seen (on more than one occasion) people with 4WD vehicles get stuck when attempting to drive it. It does not look fun.

Upper Sardine Lake is smaller than Lower Sardine Lake and has a more tucked-away feeling to it. Both lakes are equally scenic with the Sierra Buttes in the background. Swimming is permitted at Upper Sardine Lake.


I hope you enjoyed this post on visiting Sardine Lakes in Tahoe National Forest. Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss the latest blog posts, videos, and announcements! And of course, you can check out more adventures on YouTube and Instagram.


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gabriella viola lake tahoe

Hi, I'm Gabriella, an outdoor photographer living in Lake Tahoe, California. 
I'm originally from New York and moved to Los Angeles in 2013 to try out living somewhere new and different.  I found myself loving the adventurous lifestyle and dramatic scenery on the west side of the country.  Eventually, I moved to Lake Tahoe in 2019 after falling in love with its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle. 
On this site, I share adventure tips and destination guides to help you explore the beauty of Lake Tahoe, the Sierras, Northern California, and beyond...

About Gabriella

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Tahoe Blues is a curated collection of  9 pieces that showcase part of what makes Lake Tahoe so incredibly special- that crystal clear, brilliantly turquoise-colored water.  The selected images capture unique conditions and perspectives of Lake Tahoe during the day and represent calmness, joy, and awe.

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