FJ Cruisers of Northern California
I visited my brother up in Paradise, CA Saturday and then took off exploring after lunch. I decided to explore some of the area North of Nevada City, so headed there and took N. Bloomfield road off of Hwy 49. It is paved until you get to the bottom of the canyon, where there is a one lane bridge across the river, where the road turns to dirt.
The road is well graded and passable for all vehicles. I continued up the road for many miles and wound up in Malakoff Digins State Park. This is an area which was hydraulically mined and now is a curiosity made into a state park. The landscape is strange with all of the erosion from the mining and looks kind of like the Badlands in SD. There are some photo ops in the landscape, some old buildings and cemetery. There were a few people parked at hiking trail heads, but in general it looked closed down (I saw one area with a seasonal closure gate closed). I don't know if it WAS a seasonal closure, or closed due to budget cuts.
I continued on the dirt road for some more miles and came to a small town called Graniteville. It was quaint, but did not look very friendly, so I continues for some more miles. Eventually I came to a road to Bowman Lake. This road is much rougher than the main road, and while passable by 2WD SUV with good clearance, is much more comfortable in lo range 4WD. The road winds down into the canyon and then back up to run along the shore of the lake. There were several campsites along the shore, but I came upon a larger campground at about 2/3 of the length of the lake. There is no water, but there is a pit toilet and each campsite has a picnic table, a fire ring, and a bear box. It was a very pretty setting on the lake, and I did not see any info about fees (but there was a notice posted that any fee areas would be clearly marked), so it was a great bargain. I camped here with my dog for the night and took some pictures in the morning. I saw evidence that people had been catching fish, and some people bring their car-top fishing boats, although I recommend coming in from Truckee via Hwy 89/Henness Pass road as it is paved to within 5 miles or so of Bowman Lake.
I exited via Heness Pass Road/Hwy 89 to Truckee (about 15 mile on Hennes Pass Road and the same again on 89), then came back home via I-80.
I highly recommend exploring this area further as there are many lakes to visit and numerous roads to explore.