Alpine lakes in the Sierras are excellent hiking destinations, provided there are no forest fires nearby. Crooked Lakes, California, is about a 100-minute drive from Sacramento .You park your car off a dirt road that goes deep into the woods. Lock it and walk for 30 minutes through tall pines, redwoods and cedars before you reach the first in a series of alpine lakes. The water is clear and cold. I saw three hikers and no rangers; so, there’s a good chance that no one from your office will see you.