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June Lake

Double Eagle one of top 10 spa resorts in the world

By CARY ORDWAY

Most of us like to splurge on our getaways — at least as much as our pocketbooks will permit — and it's easy to indulge like there's no tomorrow when tempted with lavish meals and daysspent poolside with nothing more urgent than keeping our cocktail glasses full.

Problem is, if we behave like that too much, there will be no tomorrow.

So whether it's out of guilt or just common sense, more vacationers today are opting to exercise a little more, party a little less and even go so far as to watch our nutrition while enjoying our precious time off. That's where a place like the Double Eagle Resort and Spa can make all the difference.

Double Eagle offers both a fitness center for exercise and a world-class spa for pampering. Health-conscious meals are available at the resort's gourmet restaurant, and vigorous outdoor activities are everywhere you look.  This total package so impressed Forbes Magazine that it named Double Eagle one of the 10 best spa resorts in the world.

The Double Eagle happens to be located in one of the state's most scenic vacation spots — the 'June Lake Loop.' This area just east of Yosemite Park probably should have been included in the national park — its dramatic mountain faces, pine forests and sparkling lakes make it just that beautiful.

Driving into June Lake we were reminded of those pretty little hillside towns you come across traveling through the Alps. The first views of June Lake on this bright sunny day looked like a travel poster for Swissair. With the cragged snow-topped mountains in the distance, Highway 158 winds its way along the blue-green lake where anglers spend considerable time in summer persuading good-size cutthroat trout to jump aboard their boats. Since it was mid-week, a wide, perfect beach was being under-utilized by just two teen-age girls content to bathe in the ample sunshine.

A couple miles farther we rounded a corner to enter the town itself, a tiny community with lots of cabins and vacation-style residences serviced by just a handful of restaurants, a pizza joint with just enough room for one table and two chairs, and a couple of general stores that are always fun to browse when passing through these small settlements. So far, it was hard to imagine that a world-class spa resort was just up around the bend.

But it was. Just a few miles down the highway, past Gull Lake and just before Silver Lake, we came to a set of modern log cabins and resort-style buildings known as the Double Eagle Resort and Spa. Located just at the edge of the mountains and an easy stroll to Silver Lake, the resort apparently was designed to fit in with the numerous upscale log homes in the immediate vicinity. Picture Aspen or Vail and you get some idea of the setting, although this enclave of homes is tiny by comparison.

We stayed in one of the resort's "luxury lodge rooms" that were built only recently. Located in a group of two-story buildings, these rooms are especially spacious and so new they still have the unmistakable scent of a new home. They feature such amenities as comfortable lounge chairs, standing fireplaces, work desks, mini-kitchen counters, Jacuzzi tubs and decks that overlook the resort's fully stocked trout pond.

The other buildings in the resort complex also are all designed with this kind of mountain motif. Cathedral ceilings and plenty of windows always remind you of the mountains that tower directly overhead — whether you're in the state-of-the-art spa facility or the Eagle's Landing Restaurant.

The Creekside Spa offers 40 types of spa services, including massages, facials, body wraps and whirlpool treatments. The treatment rooms all have rustic stoves but, in summer, there's no need to have your massage indoors. Just stroll along the stream to a special area where you can have your massage while experiencing the sights, sounds and aromas of the forest. You won't need a doctor's appointment to use the Creekside Fitness Center — Double Eagle guests will find a 60-foot swimming pool, free weights, cardiovascular exercises and special training in Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates.

When we're in the mountains we prefer the exercise that comes from discovering the many trails in the area or walking to various points of interest. In such gorgeous surroundings, we just feel like we're wasting our time in the area if we're not outdoors. Accordingly, we spent much of our time exploring trails and walks near June Lake. At the top of our list was a two-mile hike to Rainbow Falls, a spectacular site with its 101-foot drop. During our June visit there was still a bit of snow on the trail, but the views from the trail of both the falls and the valley were well worth the effort.

We took a closer look at the other lakes in the area — Gull, Silver and Grant ' and noted that the area is quite popular with RV campers and anglers. These are the kind of placid lakes that are perfect for a rowboat with a three-horsepower outboard that is just enough to get you from one part of the lake to another. There are, in fact, several fishing tournaments held here each year with some trout weighing in as large as 10 pounds.

Just a few miles away is Mammoth Lakes, the resort community that is a beehive of activity each winter during ski season at Mammoth Mountain. Ski season goes through June, but in late June it's possible to take the mountain's gondola ride up the mountain to hike down any of several trails. Just $16 buys you an adult ticket.

Another great attraction close to June Lake is Bodie State Historic Park — the best example of a ghost town in California. With dozens of buildings to explore, it's easy to imagine what Bodie looked like back in its 19th Century hay-day. At one time there were said to be 65 saloons serving a town of 10,000 residents. Today the buildings are in disrepair — intentionally so because the state wants to keep them authentic — and belongings are left in several buildings just as if the residents had to quickly leave town with only the most basic of possessions.

If a remote mountain escape is on your travel agenda, you could hardly do better than June Lake and its nearby scenery and attractions — you're sure to come away with a healthy respect for the Great Outdoors.

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: June Lake is centrally located on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, on the Highway 158 loop off Highway 395. It's 327 miles from Los Angeles and about 300 miles from San Francisco.

WHAT: June Lake is the community that is situated among four sub-alpine lakes. It's an ideal destination for those seeking a mountain getaway with spectacular scenery.

WHEN: Year-round, although be prepared for heavy snowfall in winter.

WHY: The combination of excellent lodgings and one of California's most scenic mountain locations.

HOW: For more information on June Lake and the surrounding area, contact the June Lake Chamber of Commerce at www.junelakechamber.org or phone 760-648-7584. For more information on the Double Eagle Resort and Spa, visit www.doubleeagleresort.com or phone 760-648-7004. Rooms and cabins rent for between $229 and $349.

Photos: Town of June Lake; a sunny day at the beach; fishing in Double Eagle's trout pond; a deer spotted on hike to Rainbow Falls

Photo credits: Cary Ordway, Sandi Ordway

OTHER DESTINATIONS: If you're looking for other California vacation ideas, be sure to check out other California Weekend articles on Yosemite National Park, Idyllwild, Julian and Kernville.



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