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Courtwright Reservoir in California

Trip Overview

Located in the Sierra National Forest at just over 8,000 feet above sea-level, this beautiful blue gem is sourrounded by granite peaks and domes.

The reservoir was built in 1958 by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). There is a 15 MPH speed limit for boats, so the lake is generally quiet and peaceful. There is a small island and a granite dome in the lake which make for a nice break during the day. Winds generally come up in the afternoon from the south. The east shore is generally the calmest even in high winds. Water is always a clear blue.

There are several put-in locations, the easiest of which are the boat ramp at the dam, the small bay by the parking lot near the lakeside campground, and the Wee Mee Kut picnic area (150 yard walk to lake from parking lot)on the west shore. Camping is permitted all along the shore except near the dam.

The lake is roughly five miles long by one mile wide and is shaped like a lower case y. The remote location makes this an uncrowded destination even on busy holiday weekends. Fishing, hiking, and rock climbing are the primary activites here.


PG&E operates and maintains three campgrounds on or near the lake. On the west shore, you will find Trapper Springs which provides single and double camp sites. Marmot Rock (lakefront) is located at the south end of the lake which provides 14 walk-in campsites. Both campgrounds are first come-first served, no reservations are accepted. A fee is charged for overnight camping.
On the east shore of the lake is Voyager Rock which is a primitive campground accessible only by boat or by high clearance Off-Highway Vehicle. REGULAR SUVs ARE NOT ADVISED!. This campground has limited services. No fee is charged. Water is available at both Trapper Springs and Marmot Rock. Toilets are pit-type. The nearest store is at Wishon Reservoir 10 miles from Courtwright.


Fire Permits are required if you are camping outside of the campgrounds.


Courtright Lake is accessible late May through November. To get there take Hwy 168 east from Clovis towards Prather. Continue through Prather towards Shaver Lake. Just before you reach Shaver Lake turn right on the Dinkey Creek Road and travel 11.7 miles east to the intersection of the Dinkey Creek Road and the McKinley Grove Road. Turn right and travel 13.6 miles east on the McKinley Grove Road to the Courtright Reservoir turnoff. Turn left and travel north 7.5 miles to Courtright Lake. Average speeds on the roads out of Dinkey Creek are around 25 MPH due to curves so allow more time than you think to get there.


For more information contact the High Sierra Ranger station at 559-855-5360, or during the summer you can contact the Dinkey Creek Visitor Information Station at 559-841-3404.


Recreation, Wilderness, and other maps are available and may be purchased at Sierra National Forest Offices. The Three Forest Interpretive Association, a non-profit organization, sells interpretive books and visitor materials at Sierra National Forest offices. Selections include trail guides, natural history and nature guides, and books on local history.

  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Sport/Activity: Kayaking, Canoeing
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip