In Your Backyard: Huntington Lake

Huntington Lake is five miles long, and about a 90 minute to two hour drive from Fresno on Highway 168.

In this week's edition of "In Your Backyard," FOX26 Sports Anchor Nick King is sailing, mountain biking and hiking around Huntington Lake. Starting in Fresno, it's about a 90 minute to two hour drive to reach Huntington Lake, which sits above Shaver Lake on Highway 168. As Fresno Yacht Club Commodore Daniel Irwin says, "Huntington Lake is Heaven on earth."

For sailors, Huntington Lake must feel that way. That's because the lake is five miles long, and the wind reliably averages 15 miles per hour during summer, close to perfect conditions for the sport.

Irwin explains, “every day at 10 o’clock the wind comes up, it blows until about 5 o’clock, and by that time it’s time for cocktails and dinner anyway.” Fellow Fresno Yacht Club member Bob Comstock says, “As far as a freshwater lake, it’s certainly the best sailing lake in California.”

The Fresno Yacht Club was founded in 1946, and that's the group that puts on the High Sierra Regatta every year. For two weekends in July, Huntington Lake is full of sailboats, of all colors and sizes.

The final note on sailing, from Irwin, "There’s a thing about being able to make a machine work with nothing but the wind and the water and your me, it’s magical.”

Right across the street from Huntington Lake is China Peak, a mountain resort that's not only used for winter skiing. On Saturday's and Sunday's until early September, you can mountain bike those same trails. The beauty of biking at a ski resort - you get all the fun of riding downhill, without having to work to climb back up. China Peak has its main lifts operating, with you on one chair, and your bike on the chair behind you. Lift operators put the bike on and pull it off for you at the top of the mountain.

Just like skiing, all skill levels are welcome for mountain biking. The trails are marked, ranging in difficulty from green to double black diamond. As China Peak Mountain Patrol's Tony Spada describes, “With the technology in bikes, it’s getting easier for people to mountain bike. So you can take a novice mountain biker and throw him on a beginner trail and they handle it very well. The advent of the 29 inch rim kind of made it like a motorcycle, so they can really negotiate the rocks and trails much easier.”

China Peak offers bike rentals, too, if you're just getting in to the sport.

Surrounded by mountains on three sides, the Huntington Lake area is also really great for hiking. For an easy hike, try Rancheria Falls, which leads to a 150 foot waterfall. For a medium-sized hike, Indian Pools starts in the back of the China Peak parking lot, and follows Big Creek back several miles to another nice-sized waterfall. For a challenge, "The Riser to Kaiser" is five miles, seemingly straight up from the lake to Kaiser Peak. The elevation gain is more than 3,000 feet, but the views are pretty spectacular at the top.

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