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From Los Angeles, it is about 310 miles to Florence Lake. Take Interstate 5 north to California 99 north. In Fresno, take California 168 to Huntington Lake. Just past Sierra Summit ski area, turn right onto Kaiser Pass Road, a nice, paved, two-lane road for two miles. The final 20 miles are one- to 1 1/2 lanes wide. It's easily navigable by car or SUV, but it's a white-knuckle and pothole-ridden slog.
WHERE TO STAY:
Campsites around Florence Lake are first-come, first-camped and require no permits. There are a dozen or so sites right on the water.
Jackass Meadow Campground, information (559) 893-2111, reservations, (877) 444-6777, www.reserveusa.com. Forty-eight improved campsites near the river with paved parking, restrooms, tables and fire pits. $14 per night per site.
Mono Hot Springs, (559) 325-1710, www.monohotsprings.com. The only accommodations nearby. Take the turnoff about eight miles back up Kaiser Pass Road. It has cabins and tent cabins, from $65 per night. It also has a restaurant open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dinner entrees $12-$25.
Muir Trail Ranch, P.O. Box 176, Lakeshore, CA 93634; (209) 966-3195, www.muirtrailranch.com. Log cabins and tent cabins available in summer to groups of 15 or more for weeklong stays. Short stays in spring, fall. Rates start at $125 per adult per day.
TO LEARN MORE:
Florence Lake sits within the Sierra National Forest, (559) 297-0706, www.fs.fed.us/r5/sierra/. The grocery store, www.florence-lake.com, stocks food, backpacking supplies, rents boats and runs the ferry service.
-- Steve Hymon