Aspens in the Stanislaus, California

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13295A, Service/ Volunteer, Lodge


  • Work to conserve threatened aspen trees in an alpine setting
  • Enjoy two days hiking along Pacific Crest Trail & in Calavaras Big Trees State Park
  • Experience fall in the Central Sierra


  • Lodge accommodations
  • All meals except one dinner out
  • Equipment and supplies


DatesSep 29–Oct 5, 2013
StaffPeggy Hepburn

This trip has already run. Here are a few others you may enjoy:

To search our full lineup by destination, date, activity, or price, please visit our Advanced Search page. Or give us a call at 415-977-5522 to find the trip that's right for you.

Trip Overview

The Trip

Fall in the Central Sierra is full of astounding colors and pristine views. It is the end of summer relaxation and the beginning of winter preparation -- a gorgeous time of year to visit, as you are surrounded by autumn's quiet after the bustle of summer activity. So come enjoy the best of two worlds, by performing service in the out of doors by day and relaxing in a comfy lodge by night, all with other Sierra Club members eager to explore this land of pines, lakes, granite slabs, and volcanic outcroppings.

We will stay at family-friendly Tamarack Lodge, 18 miles east of Arnold, CA and just two miles west of Bear Valley, CA, at an elevation of 7,000 feet.

This trip is offered in cooperation with Stanislaus National Forest Service staff, who will teach us about the endangered aspens, supervise our work projects, and offer us information highlighting local Miwok culture and other historical interests. We will have three days for our work project, with two days off for optional hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail at Ebbetts Pass and Calavaras Big Trees State Park.

The Project

Our service trip in the Central Sierra will focus on the conservation of aspen trees in a forest being overrun by conifers.  We will work in alpine meadows in the Stanislaus National Forest (or possibly other nearby wilderness lands).

Over many decades, the alpine forests in this area have been changing from open meadows to dense conifer forests. Conifer encroachment causes a lowering of the water table, making it difficult for native deciduous trees like oaks and aspens to survive.

Part of our work project involves clearing small trees and brush on National Forest lands along scenic Highway 4 between Arnold and Bear Valley, CA.  This will involve minimal walking; however, we will also spend some time hiking longer distances to more remote areas where aspen trees are also threatened.


The trip will begin on day one with an informal gathering at 3 p.m. at Tamarack Lodge. If you arrive early, you can unpack, go bird watching, take a leisurely hike or explore Bear Valley. By arriving early you will have additional time to acclimate to the altitude.

The next morning, we will begin our work with an orientation to the work project, and we will plan to have the third and fifth day as days off (unless inclement weather occurs on a work day).

A typical day will begin with breakfast and making of a sack lunch. On our workdays, we will then travel 15-30 minutes to the trailhead. After work, we will return to the lodge and enjoy a social gathering before dinner and optional after-dinner activities.

The trip ends after breakfast on the last day.



Getting There

We will gather at Tamarack Lodge about eight miles east of Arnold, CA, off Highway 4. The nearest airport is in Sacramento, but it is also possible to fly into San Francisco, Oakland, or San Jose, CA.  It may also be an option to fly into Reno and drive over Ebbetts Pass if it is still open. The leader will provide driving directions.

Due to insurance regulations, all transportation to the lodge, trailheads, and the work site is the responsibility of each trip member. Leaders are unable to arrange carpools for participants. Those arriving by air or being dropped off at the lodge should plan to rent a car or make their own arrangements to carpool with other trip participants. If you wish to carpool, the leader will provide a participant roster before the trip.

Accommodations and Food

The lodge has comfortable rooms, some with private baths and some with shared baths. All linens and towels are provided. Couples will be kept together, and singles will be in same-sex shared rooms. Seven rooms have shared baths -- one each for men and women -- with three private shower stalls, toilets stalls, and sinks. Three rooms in the chalet have private baths, and two rooms in the barn have private baths. These units are usually reserved for couples or family groups. A common room -- with plenty of space, books, and games -- is open for everyone to relax in after hikes and at the end of the day. An outside deck offers everyone a chance to relax in the sun, morning, or evening.

The leaders will plan healthy, hearty, vegetarian-friendly meals, and following Sierra Club Outings custom, we will all assist by taking turns with the preparation and clean-up. We will prepare individual lunches each morning to carry with us on the trail. We will work with you to accommodate specific dietary requirements as much as possible. However, any dietary restrictions must be discussed in detail with the leader well in advance of the trip.

One evening we will venture to nearby restaurant for a dinner out.  This meal is not included in the trip price so you will need to bring extra cash.

Trip Difficulty

Work will be moderately strenuous due in large part to working at an elevation of 7,000 feet. Hydration is the most important tool in preventing altitude sickness -- everyone is advised to bring at least three one-quart water containers.

This service trip is suitable for all levels of fitness because everyone is encouraged to work at his or her own pace. However, if you haven't been exercising regularly, now is a good time to start. Safety is the primary concern on all our service trips.

Equipment and Clothing

A detailed equipment list will be sent to all registered participants. Participants will need hiking boots, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts for the work project.



  • Muir, John, My First Summer in the Sierra.
  • Farquhar, Francis, History of the Sierra Nevada.
  • Sorer, Tracy I., Sierra Nevada Natural History.
  • Gilligan, David, The Secret Sierra.
  • Roszak, Theodore, Mary E. Gomes, and Allen D. Kanner, Ecopsychology.


  • USGS 7.5-minute quadrangle maps: Tamarack, Pacific Valley, Spicer Meadow and Ebbetts Pass.


Forest preservation and management will be the focus of this service trip. Good forest practices keep the woods healthy and allow for recreation -- hiking, nature walks, cross-country skiing -- that does not disturb the flora and fauna. Good forest management helps to prevent out-of-control forest fires that often lead to the degradation of surrounding water bodies.

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.



Since 1993, Peggy Hepburn has participated in, led, and cooked on many Sierra Club trips from California to the Caribbean. She enjoys the camaraderie that the Sierra Club trip participants always seem to share, and always looks forward to another hiking and exploring adventure in the outdoors.

Assistant Leader:

Vicky Bray-Johnson


Barbara Balen

Contact the Staff

Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.

Try Another Trip

By Date