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For additional information I have a summer posting on the Balsam Forebay here: http://midsierramusing.blogspot.com/2014/05/balsam-forebay-shaver-lake-ca.html
As you head up Highway 168 past Shaver Lake toward Huntington Lake, the first of several snow parks will be on the left. It is about 6,800’ in elevation and generally has less snow than the higher parks at Tamarack and Coyote. It also has a much smaller parking area and is congested on the weekends. A daily or seasonal parking permit is required. There are a number of places in Shaver Lake that sell them. The snow sledding is near the parking and extends down the trail that leads to the Forebay.
It is located in the Sierra National Forest on land owned by Southern California Edison. There is an access road for Edison personnel only. We made a loop of our hike walking out on the road. Edison keeps it plowed to provide access to their building and equipment on the far side of the Forebay.
The lake was frozen over when we arrived on snowshoes. The snow was too crusty and icy for skis. While it is less than a mile from the parking area few folks ever venture this far and it is not practical/possible when the snow accumulates over the course of the winter. We uncovered a picnic table and sat on top for our lunch. The rest of the picnic table was buried in snow.
I looked for the resident Osprey who was not to be found. I brought my heavy 400mm lens just in case but only took a photograph of the empty nest. I imagine if the Osprey is around it is fishing in open water at Shaver Lake. The nest is evident at the top of a tall evergreen. It saw the tracks of a larger animal in the snow at the bottom of the dam but could not determine what they were from up above.
We were by ourselves and the untracked pristine snow on a sunny day was renewing. It is such a pleasure to dial back the pace of life. What a blessing it is to have such beauty and wilderness so close with good access. Thank you Southern California Edison for making this area available to the public.
Tracks Below Dam
Not To Be Confused With The Shaver Lake Sasquatch
Nest Tree With Broken Top
Pottie Facility At The Forebay
Plowed Area On Return Loop