Lodging and Camping
The Clark Fork of the Stanislaus River
Fishing, Horseback Riding, Camping
The Clark Fork road leaves Highway 108, the Sonora Pass Highway, 46 miles east of Sonora at an
elevation of 5,600 feet, leading into the Clark Fork Recreation Area. The
road parallels the Clark Fork for 9 miles before ending at Iceberg Meadow at the edge of
the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness at an elevation of 6,100 feet.
Three National Forest campgrounds, a picnic area, and several private camps
are located along the road. A fourth campground is located just outside the Clark Fork drainage at Fence Creek.
The campgrounds are usually open from the beginning of fishing season in late April until the end of October.
Fishing and Hiking on the Clark Fork
The Clark Fork is well known for its great fishing. Easy access to the river can be
found in many places along the 9 miles of the Clark Fork road. Some of the best fishing
holes are in places where the road veers away from the river. A short hike can take you to those less often
From Iceberg Meadow there is a trail which parallels the Clark Fork for miles. The first several miles
of the river above Iceberg Meadow offer good fishing in pockets and riffles.
For more information about fishing on the Clark Fork visit
Dave's Sierra Fishing at Clark Fork Fishing.
Upper Clark Fork and St. Mary's Pass
A number of good trails lead out of the Clark Fork area. Only the trail following the river
upstream out of Iceberg Meadow could be classified as fairly easy. It passes through shaded forest while
almost always within earshot of the river. For the first two miles it climbs at a gentle grade, gaining only
500 feet. From there the trail continues up the Clark Fork for another 7 miles to Saint Mary's
Pass, climbing nearly 3,000 feet. The trail to Boulder Lake diverges from the Clark Fork
trail after two miles and climbs another two miles to the secluded lake.
The Disaster Creek trail leads north out of Iceberg Meadow, following the tumbling water of Disaster Creek.
Several meadows along the way make good turn-around points. Ambitious hikers could push all the way up to
Highland Lakes off the Ebbetts Pass highway, a 7.5-mile, 2000 foot climb.
The Arnot Creek trail begins at a trailhead near Camp Liahona. One spur of the trail leads up under the
shadow of the Dardanelles and eventually on to Spicer Reservoir, 8 miles in distance. Another spur of the trail
follows Arnot Creek up to its headwaters and eventually ending at Highland Lakes (8 miles).
Emigrant Route of the 1841 Bidwell-Bartleson Party
In 1841 the first overland emigrants to California wound their way through the Sierra Nevada and eventually
down Disaster Creek to Iceberg Meadow on the Clark Fork. With no maps to guide them, they
followed the Clark Fork to its convergance with the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River and then continued
along its north side, staying high on the mountain well above the river. Finally they worked their way to
lower elevations, crossed to the south and descended into the San Joaquin Valley.
The Sonora and Mono Wagon Road
Patterson Grade on the Sonora and Mono Road
The original survey line for the Sonora and Mono Wagon Road of the 1860s led up the Clark Fork, following it
to its headwaters at Saint Mary's Pass, and then descending into the summit valley before crossing Sonora Pass.
One of the road commissioners who scouted out this route was William Clark of Tuolumne County, for whom the
Clark Fork is named. A pack trail along the route saw considerable use in the early 1860s.
Before the road was constructed, however, the commissioners discovered what they considered
to be a better route up Deadman Creek, the course of today's Highway 108 follows. The Clark Fork route was abandoned,
but the pack trail became the boundry line between Alpine and Tuolumne counties.
A well-known portion of the Sonora and Mono Wagon Road was the Patterson Grade which descends from the Donnell Overlook
to the Clark Fork Road. John Danforth Patterson was the foreman in charge of road construction. The steep grade
was cut out of the mountainside. Today's highway follows a line above the Patterson Grade. In the early years of
automobiles many drivers were reluctant to attempt the Patterson Grade and would hire locals to pilot their cars
up or down the hill.
Clark Fork Campgrounds
Clark Fork Campground
The Clark Fork Campground is 6 miles from the turnoff on Highway 108, close to many
The large campground is divided into two loops (A and B). Loop A has 28 sites with piped water
and pit toilets. Each site is $19 per nite. Loop B has flush toilets and each of the 60 sites there
costs $20 per night. At one time they offered hot showers, but these may no longer
be in operation. A RV dump station is located near the entrance to the campgrounds.
The Clark Fork Campground is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Clark Fork Horse Camp
The Clark Fork Horse Camp is situated next to the
Clark Fork Campground (see above). As its name implies, this camp is reserved for
campers with horses. The cost is $17 for a single site, $30 for the small group area, and $60
for the large area. There is no piped water. The facility has vault toilets.
The campground is on a first-come, first-served basis. Horseback riders will find numerous
recreation riding trails in the area.
Sand Flat Campground
Sand Flat Campground is 6.5 miles up the Clark Fork Road from Highway 108. It is
situated along the bank of the Clark Fork with 15 walk-in type camp sites close to the
river and 53 tent or RV sites. Each site costs $19 per night. Water comes from old fashion hand pumps.
The campground has vault toilets. Sand Flat Campground is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Campers will find recreation opportunities abound in the area. Evening campfires are
popular at Sand Flat Campground.
Fence Creek Campground
The Fence Creek Campground is on a dirt road that splits off from the
Clark Fork Road less than a mile from Highway 108. Once on the dirt road watch for the entrance to
Fence Creek Campground soon on your right. It is at an elevation of 5,800'. The 38
camp sites have no piped water. The campground has vault toilets. The cost is $8 per night.
For more about the campgrounds, see Clark Fork Campgrounds
Camp Peaceful Pines
Camp Peaceful Pines is an independent, charitable, non-profit corporation and is affiliated
with the Pacific Southwest District of the Church of the Brethren. The camp is operated under a special use permit
from the Stanislaus National Forest. The camp has a main lodge, dining, hall, cabins, and restrooms. Among
their summer sessions are family camps and camps designed for youths of various ages.
Camp Peaceful Pines, 2301 Woodland Ave., Modesto CA 95358-9501
Camp Liahona began in 1950. It is operated by the Liahona Club in affiliation with
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Liahona Club operates three camps in the northern Sierra Nevada.
The Club provides these camps every summer for young women activities through the Young Women's Camping Program.
Liahona Club, PO Box 4911, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-0911