Union and Utica Reservoirs
Union and Utica Reservoirs are picturesque small, twin reservoirs located off the Spicer Reservoir Road, about two miles from Highway 4. Both reservoirs are popular recreation sites, providing opportunities for dispersed camping, canoeing and kayaking, picnicking, mountain biking the Slick Rock Road, swimming, and fishing. No developed recreation facilities exist at either lake, but rustic campsites including tables and stoves are available. The reservoirs are home to a number of islands, especially at Utica, which provide tranquil picnic spots. A primitive boat launch is available at Union Reservoir and maximum boat speed is five mph. Utica Reservoir is managed to favor non-motorized boating only.
Both reservoirs were constructed to provide water for first placer, and later, hard rock mining operations. Union Reservoir was built in 1853 by the Union Water Company of Murphys to provide water to Murphys, Angels Camp, and beyond. The Utica Mining Company took over the Union Water Company in the late 1880s, and enlarged the Union Reservoir in 1901. The company constructed Utica Reservoir in 1905 to augment its water resources and provide water and electricity to its extensive mining and power operations. Today, both reservoirs are owned and operated by the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) as part of their Upper Utica Project. They are used to regulate water flows for downstream power generation as part of NCPA’s North Fork Stanislaus River Hydroelectric Development Project.
Take Note: Both Union and Utica Reservoirs are crowded in summer months, especially on weekends. If you can choose a midweek day or off-season time to visit, the experience is more intimate. Kayak and canoe rentals are available in Arnold and Bear Valley.
- Elevation: 6,600 ft.
- Mile Marker: 21.3/39.7 (turn-off)
- GPS Coordinates: 38 26 101N -119 59 747W
- Service Available: Boating, Camping, Fishing, HIking, Picnicking, Swimming