Campground and Surroundings

rotation-scenes-1Camp takes place at the Gates Group Campground in the French Meadows area of the Tahoe National Forest. French Meadows Camp is operated under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service.

The picturesque natural surroundings are an ideal setting to go "on retreat". The energizing stream that borders the campground on three sides, the majestic trees that canopy the surroundings, and the monumental rock formations that define the various campsites provide a unique environment in which to relax, study, and play.

Waterfall Hikes


Each year we schedule trips in groups of 12 (maximum allowed by the Forest Service) to the beautiful waterfall in the Picayune Valley. The total distance is about 8 miles round trip and takes from 5 to 7 hours, allowing for the drive to and from the trailhead, a leisurely hike, and time to eat and play at the falls. The trail has an elevation gain of 800 feet with some up and down along the way. The hikes begin promptly at 9:00 am or earlier, especially if the days are hot and the hike leaders want to avoid hiking in the hot sun.

Faster, shorter, or longer trips can be arranged for those interested. For example, a shorter, leisurely hike of 1 to 2 miles along the reservoir is scheduled on one of the days. Sign-up sheets are available at registration.

Entertainment and Activities


The evening campfires feature an opening circle during which campers share their stories and two of the best variety shows anywhere. Pictured at the left is the French Meadowettes before their performance at the 2013 camp. Many people attend classes during the day and also participate in swimming, volleyball, hiking and walking in the woods, and relexing by the stream. Whatever you decide to you, there are many like-minded folks who will join you if you want. There is plenty of space to be alone, too.

Camping Information

There are no enclosed accomodations


Campers, RVs, and motor homes are welcome and must be parked in the lots provided. Since the paving of the parking lots a few years ago we have had plenty of space for everyone.

Restrooms (camp toilets) and cold running water are available at several locations throughout the campground.

Filtered water, used for cooking, is available to all campers; feel free to bring your own water bottle and cup for taking filtered water out of the kitchen area.

Shower stalls are erected for camp. You provide your own solar shower bag as there is no hot running water.

Bears occasionally roam the campground at night and break into cars containing food with the windows cracked open. Food can be safely stored in the large camp truck which has a secure door.

Emergency Phone: The nearest phone is about 23 miles away. Some cell phones work from the top of Chipmunk Ridge, a five to six mile drive up an unpaved road. If you need to be reached in case of a real emergency, the Forest Service office in Foresthill will relay the message—the number is (530) 367-2224 and our location is the Gates Group campground at French Meadows. We also can send emergency messages through the Forest Rangers.

See the section on camp policies.

What to Bring to Camp

Come prepared for hot days, cool nights and the rare occasion of rain, with the following:

  • sleeping bag, tent or ground cover
  • sweater, jacket, and cap for cold nights and mornings
  • summer clothing / hat
  • bathing suit / exercise clothes / mat
  • water bottle / thermos / tea cup
  • towels / toiletries
  • bicycle / helmet
  • hiking gear / day pack
  • plastic tarp / something to sit on
  • flashlight / lantern / camera
  • musical instruments
  • special food as desired or needed
  • art supplies / sketch pad
  • notebooks / pencils
  • solar shower bag
  • a willingness to pitch in

While this is a summer camp, it takes place in the mountains. Be prepared to deal with cold nights and mornings.

There are no enclosed accommodations. Campers, RVs, and motor homes are welcome and must be parked in the lots provided. Since the paving of the parking lots a few years ago we have had plenty of space for everyone.


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Join us for the 46th annual French Meadows Summer Camp, July 4-12, 2015.