There is no camping (and no campfires!) allowed at Stampede Reservoir outside of the designated campgrounds.
Though you can park at the Capt. Roberts boating site, there is a $4/vehicle fee.
In the spring and summer, the Sagehen Creek meadows are a famous wildflower attraction. Birding is also great here, with large avian stars like American Pelicans, Sandhill Cranes, Bald Eagles, and Osprey. In early fall, brilliant red Kokanee Salmon swim up the creek from the lake to spawn then die.
Riding generally northward out the Commemorative Overland Emigrant Trail
toward the Capt. Roberts boating site on Stampede Reservoir, you briefly parallel, then cross, the paved Hobart Mills Road (886). You can also park and start your ride here for a shorter day.
Less than a kilometer farther on, the trail begins descending and crosses a wide dirt road. Turn left onto this road and follow it north toward Stampede Reservoir.
As you approach the lake, pass through a large dirt intersection and bear left to parallel the shoreline at a fair distance. There are numerous places along this stretch to wander over to take a swim, or just lounge around in the shade of the pines near the water. Continuing on, you'll soon start passing aspen trees and meadow systems, and as you bend away from the lake you'll reach a right fork to an old sheep-herders camp. If you like, you can take a short hike from here under Lodgepole pines along an old railroad grade. This elevated route keeps your feet dry while visiting the creek: the meadows are very wet for most of the spring and early summer.
Continue riding the dirt road southward along the edge of the broad meadow system that lines Sagehen Creek. Stop and walk into the meadows to visit massive fields of buttercups in the spring, the famous Camas Lilies in the early summer, or a lovely swath of Aspen Onions in mid-summer. Watch for black bear signs here--there's lots!
Continuing on, the dirt road eventually ends in the forest. Return the way you came. Or, an unofficial user trail continues along Sagehen Creek to Hwy-89 (watch for some very impressive Ponderosa Pines in this stretch!). Or, make a loop by riding one of the logging roads that winds over Billy Hill.