Why Now is a Great Time to Buy a Vacation Home on Lake Tulloch!

Poker Flat Waterfront Homes

Considering buying a vacation home on Lake Tulloch?  Perhaps you’ve visited friends or family that currently live in either the Poker Flat or Connor Estates communities on Lake Tulloch or you’ve heard about life on Lake Tulloch and want to check it out for yourself.  You may even be trying to determine the best place to buy a vacation home and are weighing your options.  No matter where you’re coming from; now is a great time to buy a vacation home!

While you may be leery of taking on a second mortgage, investing in a vacation home can be a very smart decision.  Investing now in any piece of real estate should be good long-term investment.  Vacation homes can be an even better option as they can bring in income if you plan to rent it out when you’re not using the home.  I’ve gathered a few other key reasons why buying a vacation home on Lake Tulloch now is a great idea!

– Prices Are Low– This alone can be enough of a reason to buy a vacation home in any of the Lake Tulloch Communities!  Home prices are at an all time low and will only go up as we reach 2012, so be sure to cash in on the deals that are currently available in the Lake Tulloch Real Estate market.

– Interest Rates are Low– Banks are still going through a time of recovery and are keeping interest rates at an all time low.  They’re committed to bringing about a renewed trust in the real estate market and are willing to give buyers a helping hand.

– Inventory is High– There are many beautiful homes available on or near Lake Tulloch!  Because this is a buyers’ market; you’ll have plenty of options from which to choose.  As a Lake Tulloch Real Estate agent; I would be happy to show you some of the homes currently for sale on Lake Tulloch!

– You’ll Be Ahead of the Seasonal Rush– The spring is always the busiest season for buying a vacation home on Lake Tulloch.  Many are planning ahead to enjoy their summer on this great lake which offers endless activities, vibrant communities and complete relaxation.  Buying now will ensure you have less competition in finding your vacation home!

Buying a vacation home on Lake Tulloch can be a big decision, but I hope these reasons help in your decision making process.  If you have questions regarding current available homes in the Lake Tulloch/Copperopolis area, or questions about the Lake Tulloch Real Estate market; please let me know!  I’d be happy to answer your questions and discuss your options.  You’ll be relaxing on Lake Tulloch in your vacation home before you know it!

Aaron Stafford

Your Local Lake Tulloch Real Estate Expert
Coldwell Banker Lake Tulloch

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Top Ten Activites to do near Lake Tulloch….besides the lake!

 While the Lake Tulloch / Copperopolis area is a vacation destination for many, there are also a lot of interesting activities to explore just outside of town. Lake Tulloch is a great place to take a “mini vacation’ from your second home. If you live here full time, the local activities will make sure that you will always have something fun to do. Here are my Top 10 local activities (other than Lake Tulloch). 


#10) Golfing

The 8th Green at Saddle Creek Golf Course

 Located in Copperopolis, is one of the most highly regarded golf courses in the region. Saddle Creek features 18 scenic holes and is ranked 8th by Golf Week Magazine for Best Public Access Courses in California. Also located just 12 miles from the Lake Tulloch / Copperopolis area is the Greenhorn Creek Golf Course. Greenhorn Creek has been voted “Best Playing Conditions” and “Best Value for the Green Fee” by Greenskeeper.org.    


#9) The Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee


The Stafford and Caywood Kids at the "Frog Jumps".

  “The Frog Jumps” as it is referred to locally, dates back to the 1800’s and was the inspiration of Mark Twain’s first published work, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. Where else in the world can you “jockey” a frog, hoping to set a World Record? Only in Calaveras County. It is definitely something that everyone should experience once in their life. While I was torn placing a world known event closer to #1, it comes in at #9, because I personally think that the pricing is terrible. When I was a kid, your entry fee included all of the rides which was great. Now it is a ticket system for rides that generally cost a buck a ticket and some rides were three tickets or more. With three kids, at nearly $10 a ride, I would rather go to Disneyland. The “Frog Jumps” are held annually the third weekend in May at the Calaveras County Fairgrounds. For more information visit their website.     

 #8) Wine Tasting in Murphys


 Murphy’s is quickly becoming a destination for wine connoisseurs. Anchored by Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys features many great wineries including Twisted Oak and Stevenot. Besides wineries, there are many great bed and breakfast places to stay. My favorite is the Victoria Inn which features a “Miner’s Exchange” style, blending history with modern comfort. Each room is an eclectic mix of wonderful European charm, featuring high ceilings and doors, fireplaces or wood stoves, claw-footed bathtubs or whirlpool tubs. For a complete list of wineries and places to stay, please click here.      

#7) Columbia State Park

Columbia State Park

 The town’s old Gold Rush-era business district has been preserved with shops, restaurants and two hotels. Visitors have the chance to time-travel to the 1850s, imagining life when gold miners rubbed shoulders with businessmen and the other residents in Columbia. Visitors can experience a bygone era watching proprietors in period clothing conduct business in the style of yesterday. There are opportunities to ride a 100 year-old stagecoach, pan for gold, and explore the real working businesses of Columbia. I remember as a youth when Columbia was used as a backdrop for the Clint Eastwood movie, Pale Rider. You can’t beat the old fashioned candy store and getting an “ice cold sarsaparilla” at one of the “water’n holes”. For more info click here and here.    

#6) 4th of July at Ironstone Vineyards

Ironstone 4th of July

 While I was growing up in the area, the best and pretty much only firework display was held out at the county fairgrounds. For the last couple of years, we have been going to Ironstone for their Fourth of July Celebration. There is live music, climbing walls, bounce houses, all sorts of food, Cruiser’s Ice Cream, and much more. It is my favorite one day event of the year. The fireworks show is one of the best and longest that I have ever seen. If you haven’t tried gone yet, go this year! I promise that you will be impressed!    

#5) Camping at Lake Alpine/Slick Rock Trail

Camping at Lake Alpine

While it seems that most people are either a Pinecrest person or Lake Alpine person, I am definitely the latter. Pinecrest and Lake Alpine are similar but in my opinion, there is a lot less people and traffic at Alpine. The lake is crystal clear and great for canoeing, fishing and swimming. The campgrounds are well kept and the general store/restaurant is great for the things that you may have forgotten. I have camped at a lot of places and Lake Alpine is my favorite because of Slick Rock Road/Trail.   

Slick Rock Trail at Lake Alpine

Slick Rock Road winds through dense trees over huge granite slabs from Lake Alpine to Utica Reservoir. It is a trail for 4×4 vehicles only and I would only attempt it if you are serious about rock crawling. While I ran the trail end to end in a stock Rubicon Unlimited, I would not recommend this unless you have some off road experience. It isn’t the “Rubicon“, but it is nice because it is relatively close and great because of the camping at Lake Alpine.    

#4) Moaning Cavern

Main Chamber at Moaning Cavern Photo by Dave Bunnell

 I have been going to the Moaning Cavern since I was 9 years old. It is one of the area’s best natural (under) landmarks and you must check it out if you haven’t seen it for yourself. It is a cavern so large, that you could actually fit the Statue of Liberty into it.  There are multiple types of tours but I like the basic walking tour. It is awesome and the kids really like it. Recently they added some ziplines that I hear are really fun, but I have yet to try them.    

#3) Big Trees State Park

Big Trees State Park

     I think that Big Treesis often left out of conversations about the massive redwoods in California. People talk about redwood groves near the coast and not much is mentioned about the massive redwood trees right here in Calaveras County. The trees are massive and you don’t have to travel half way down California to get there. There are many different hikes to take, but they are generally pretty mild and the sights are fantastic.  

#2) Snow Skiing at Bear Valley or Dodge Ridge

Bear Valley Ski Resort

Dodge Ridge Ski Resort

I have grown up going to both ski resorts and I really like them. “Dodge” is closer, but I have gone to “Bear” more often. Either is a great choice. Both offer great ski schools and all the amenities that you would hope for. The Challenge is to snow ski at Bear or Dodge, and water ski at Lake Tulloch on the same day.  

#1) Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

  I am embarrassed to admit that I grew up in Calaveras County and I never visited Yosemite until I was into my 30’s. In 2006, I went there with my family and I could not believe that I had missed out on something so beautiful for all of those years. Maybe it’s something that you appreciate more as an adult, but I really love the place. I went there and felt like Ansel Adams, snapping unbelievable pictures of the park. You can’t take a bad picture! Everything is breathtaking. My favorite part of the park so far is Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which is a bit out of the way from the main park, but well worth the trip. Across the Dam at Hetch Hetchy, a hike begins, taking you through a tunnel and around the lake. A few miles in, there is a waterfall that washes over an elevated wooden walkway and it is awesome. If you go to Yosemite, you must check out Hetch Hetchy. If you haven’t gone, go now because you are missing out. 

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Top 5 Things To Do in Copperopolis

 As a 27 year resident of Copperopolis, I have seen a lot change over the years. As we have grown, the amount of activities have grown for the area and here are my Top 5.  


#5 Hot Copper Car Show   

Hot Copper Nights
Hot Copper Car Show sponsored by the Lake Tulloch Lions Club

 Sponsored by Lake Tulloch Lions Club, the Hot Copper Car Show is now held in the Copperopolis Town Square. The car show, now in it’s 11th year has grown every year and now features more than 200 custom and classic cars from all over the state. Pictures from last years show can be seen at ThePineTree.net . Last year, the event featured a fun day of family entertainment including a vintage auto and motorcycle show, mechanical bull riding, ice cream eating competition, live music, silent auction, raffles, poker walk through local business establishments and more. The show is generally held in May and all proceeds benefit local charitable work, local food bank and local high school scholarships. 


#4 Horseback Riding with Copper Valley Trail Company   

Horseback Riding by Copper Valley Trail Company

 Copper Valley Trail Company provides unique riding experiences year  round.  They feature thousands of acres of beautiful foothills to explore on fabulous horses and mules, all on private historic ranch land.  On the trails you will enjoy meandering creeks, gorgeous year-round ponds, as well as the only riding trails on the beautiful shores of Lake Tulloch.  It’s a great way to make a special family memory and take the foothill experience a little ‘bit’ further!  Call or come by their Trailhead Store at 403 Town Square Road or call (209) 785-9801 to book your riding adventure!   


#3 Copper Concerts at Copperopolis Town Square  

Copper Concert Poster
Copper Concert Series at Copperopolis Town Square

Generally, The Copperopolis Town Square features live music at most of their events. The best concerts are generally held in September for the “Copper Concert” series. Last year, was the best line up yet, featuring Caravanserai, Joel the Band, Chains Required and local favorite, Josh Pfeiffer. Held on the gazebo in the park, there is plenty of seating and great views of the bands. The streets of Town Square are blocked off during these events so it is safe for families with children.        


#2 Golfing at Saddle Creek     

The 14th at Saddle Creek

  Saddle Creek Resort is truly a golf resort for players and couples of all levels. The golf resort features 18 scenic holes and is ranked 8th by Golf Week Magazine for Best Public Access Courses in California. While Copperopolis is generally know for Lake Tulloch, Saddle Creek has put Copperopolis on the map for avid golfers. Information about homes and homesites is also available on my website at Saddle Creek Resales. Call (209) 785- 7415 for tee times.     



#1 Lake Tulloch


Lake Tulloch is known mainly for it’s waterfront homes. Since most lakes are state owned, lakefront living is a true rarity in California. Lake Tulloch is also features an inlet and outlet dam so lake levels are controlled and maintained. Each day the lake fluctuates 1-3 feet as the dams release water to generate power, which in turn, keeps the lake fresh. For a more details about the lake click here. Lake Tulloch is great for anything that you could want to do on a lake. Waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, wakesurfing, tubing, jetskiing, fishing, paddleboating, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, pontoon boating, floating, lounging, you name it. If it can be done on a lake, it can be done at Lake Tulloch (except parasailing…..big power lines!). You can do all of this from your own privately owned dock. For more information about homes at Lake Tulloch, please visit my website at Lake Tulloch Waterfronts or call me at (209) 840-1432.   

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My Top 10 Places in Eat in or around Copperopolis

When I moved to Copperopolis in 1984, the selection of restaurants was slim to none. We pretty much were limited to “Poker Flat” Resort, “The Cove”, and Joan and George’s Cafe next to the gas station. Over the years, “Poker Flat” changed ownership multiple times, the “Cove” burned down multiple times, and the “Cafe” changed ownership and types of food a few times over. Restaurants have come and gone with none really hanging around for long.

Since we are a small “resort town” we obviously don’t have much of a selection due to our somewhat seasonal population. With that in mind, my Top Ten list of Restaurants, is really two “Top 5” lists. In town, and out of town. Listed below are my favorites for both….

Top 5 Copperopolis Restaurants

5. The Copper Grille at Saddle Creek This has probably been the most consistent restaurant over the last 10 years. Dinners are a bit pricey, but they often have $10 dinner themes that are really good. Breakfast and Lunch are good as well.

4. Snaps Coffee and Wine Bar If I was ranking by how I often I actually go, Snaps would be #1. Since it really isn’t a full service restaurant, it sets at #4. I actually PREFER Snaps to Starbucks. Let me say that again, I actually prefer Snaps to Starbucks. I know Starbucks isn’t always the greatest to coffee lovers, but it can be counted on for it’s consistency. Snaps is better. Hands Down. They offer free wifi which is great for visitors that do not have local access. If you are looking for a lite lunch or breakfast, the also serve an excellent smaller menu. I am a big fan of the Chicken Pesto Panini. They also feature a wine bar with many local wines, and a decent selection of beers. Go there….daily!

3. Drifters Marina and Grill I love this place. This fall, I watched nearly every game of the NLCS and the World Series on their 55″ TV. While it really isn’t a “Sports Bar” it is a great place to catch a big game. The staff and food is excellent and you can’t beat the lakeside location. During the warmer months, a great time can also be had on their outside decks. My favorites items to eat are the garlic fries, any of the pizzas, and the chicken sandwiches. They also have these breaded and fried jalapeno slices that are pretty awesome.

2. Mexico Lindo Esther and family provide great Mexican food at a reasonable price. I like this place because it is one of the rare places where your “special order” becomes normal. I have a lot of items that I have made special and I don’t have to explain what I want. They just know. Since I am very partial to my special orders, I will share a few with you. Bean Dip. Wait there is no bean dip on the menu. If you mention that I (Aaron) told you to order the bean dip, they wold bring you a bowl of refried beans, covered in verde sauce, cheese and a spoonful of sour cream. It is so good to go with the chips and salsa. My Favorite are my chicken tacos. It has been awhile since I saw the regular, but I know they are fried with a corn tortilla, and mine feature a soft flour tortilla with great pieces of chunked chicken breast with a perfect amount of their mole sauce, lettuce, cheese and tomato. They also have a great hot salsa that is available if you ask for it.

1.Panini’s Italian Grille Panini’s is a newer restaurant in the Copperopolis Town Square. If you are looking for upscale dining, then Panini’s is the best in town. The service is great and kid friendly. The menu is well rounded but my runaway favorite is the Gold Rush Vegetarian Pizza. I am picky about my pizza, and this is the best vegetarian pizza that I have ever had.

Top 5 “Just outside of” Copperopolis Restaurants

5. Woods Creek Cafe On a weekend, get there early, or be prepared to wait a bit. If you must wait, believe me that it is well worth it. Use the dry erase board to establish your position in line or you might wait a lot longer. Spotted cows, rolls of paper towels mounted to each table and the best breakfast in Tuolumne County is what you should expect. Lunch is good too, but breakfast is best. The “Superbowl” is all you need to know when it comes to the menu. The deserts are also great, along with the handmade chocolate milkshakes. Located on Highway 108 in Jametown.

4. El Jardin There are many El Jardin restaurants in the surrounding area. In order, I prefer the Murphys location, followed by Sonora and then Columbia. The food is fantastic and it is where I stole the idea for my “special” bean dip at Mexico Lindo. As great as the food is, my favorite thing at this restaurant is the fried ice cream. It is the real thing and absolutely delicious.

3. Grounds Grounds is located in Downtown Murphys. It is my favorite place for breakfast, even though I don’t have to time to make it up there a lot. The food is fresh and the french toast uses bread that is baked that morning from the bread store a few doors down. It is also open for lunch and dinner, but I personally have always preferred it for a great breakfast. The French Toast with Marionberry syrup is my personal favorite, but the breakfast burrito is great as well.

2. Mikes Pizza I admit that I am a pizza snob. While there is rarely a bad pizza, after eating pizza in Illinois while I was in college, it was hard to adapt back to the pizza in California. It is just not the same. Similar, but only by name and shape. Mike’s Pizza is worth the drive to Angels Camp to either eat it there, or bring it home. While it is totally different from pizza in Illinois, it is the best pizza that I have had in California, other than Chicago Fire in Sacramento. Mike’s Pizza is thick, the sauce is great (I ask for extra) and the cheese is not greasy. The veggies are fresh and they are always cooked just right. The Cheesy Breadsticks are a must, and if you want dessert, they also have cinnamon sticks which are fantastic. I generally pick it up and bring it home, but my kids love to eat it there and play all of the quarter eaters (video games).

1. Azzo’s This is my favorite restaurant period! From opening night until now, it is my favorite place to eat. The restaurant is basically divided down the middle. On one side, you have a full service bar decorated with rock n’ roll posters, a large plasma that is always playing live classic rock concerts, and you can always find the personable Azzo behind the bar. The bar is known far and wide for it’s “Lemon Drops”, but I love it for it’s ice cold Fat Tire beer. While the bar area is a little less formal, the dining area is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the region. Everything is spectacular although I always lean toward the handmade pasta, red sauce and chicken. Go there tonight, but don’t forget to call for reservations, it fills up quick!!!

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The Best Real Estate App for your smartphone?

When you are looking for property in the Copperopolis / Lake Tulloch area, please call me at (209) 840-1432 and I would be happy to either show you the area personally, or at least, prepare some listings and maps for you explore the area. If you choose to “go it alone” I would highly recommend my favorite real estate app for your smart phone.

As rural as we are in Copperopolis, ATT and Verizon have recently made great strides in providing data coverage in our area. ATT recently launched 3G coverage in our area. I know, 3G is already yesterday’s technology, but I will take what I can get. I personally don’t use Verizon due to their lack of data coverage in our area, but I have heard that they have recently struck a deal to access data from local provider, Golden State Cellular. Like I said, I don’t use it, but I hear it works.

So back to the app. I personally do not like most apps for real estate. Some of the most popular apps are just that, popular, but not really useful. Two examples of these “popular” apps are Trulia and Zillow. I am sure that you have either heard of this or actually used them in your search for real estate. The problem that I have with these apps, is that the information is seldomly correct. These resources use third party information for their data. This is common of a lot of things so let me explain. When I add a listing to my personal website, it happens to “syndicate” the information out to many real estate related websites. They in turn, publish this information for you to see. The problem is that this information is seldomly accurate. How many real estate websites have you seen with listings that had the incorrect price, had been sold years ago, or were no longer even for sale? Unless an agent is timely in making changes to their websites, social media and other sources, the information that you see has a good chance of being incorrect. As for Zillow, don’t even get me started. A complex algorithm to value real estate? Read this for why this doesn’t make sense.

Straight from the horse’s mouth!

When it comes to true accurate data for home prices and listing information, there is no better person to call than a qualified realtor®. Realtors® have access to their respective Multiple Listing Service which by rule, must have the most recent changes done within 24 hours after a change. The information from an MLS system can generally be counted on for accuracy because an agent can actually be fined if proper changes are not made in a timely fashion. In a “third party” situation no one gets fined for out of date information and the person that suffers is the person that is counting on accurate information.

Realtor.com is one of the rare outside sources that get an actual feed from the MLS providers. While the feed isn’t always instant, changes are normally made within 24 hours.

Last year, Realtor.com relaunched it’s mobile app and I believe that it is far and away the best real estate application that you can get, and it’s free! I have access to many real estate systems that aren’t accessible to prospective home buyers, and even amongst those, this app still ranks the highest for me. I actually prefer the app to their full website at Realtor.com. It is just so easy to use and it makes sense.

Why I like it?

Since the economy has fallen, many homes have been foreclosed on. In the Copperopolis area specifically, a large percentage of the foreclosures that come back on to the market are listed with out of town agents. When I say “out of town”, I mean an agent that is from far enough away, that they are not a member of our local MLS system. This often poses problems for all involved. The bank loses, because the home is not properly marketed in the local market, which in turn, makes it had for local agents and buyers to find information on the subject property. If no one knows anything about the home except for an agent in Stockton, then ultimately the price is reduced, negatively effecting the local market if the home may have been priced properly, but nobody knew it was for sale. Before this blog becomes a rant, I will stop here.

So anyway, if the home ends up being listed in the Stockton area MLS, it will show up on Realtor.com and the app even though it may not show in the local MLS system. So we are out, looking at property and we happen to come across a home that is not in my printouts. What do we do? I break out my iPhone and open the Realtor.com app and since it uses our GPS location, the home we are parked in front of, should come up first. It’s that easy. See a real estate sign, stop in front of the home, pull out your smartphone, launch the app, and you instantly have the information that you need about the property. But don’t forget to call me at (209) 840-1432 to show it to you if you are interested ;).

Interested? Click on the phone for the iPhone version or here for Android.

Best Real Estate App for Copperopolis / Lake Tulloch Real Estate

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