This trail description was contributed by Heidi Burckart of the Gold
Country's Horsemen's Association of Sutter Creek, Ca.
VALLEY TO BLUE LAKES
HWY. 4, ALPINE COUNTY
- Trail Location:
From Hwy. 88, in Woodfords, take Hwy. 4 west. Go through Markleeville,
past Wolf Creek Rd., past Silver Creek Campground. Road condition
varies, is steep in spots, and has some switchbacks; take your time.
Past the Pacific Crest Trailhead, past the Ebbetts Pass summit, down
into Hermit Valley. Gear down dropping from the summit, it is about
7 miles down to the bottom. When you reach Hermit Valley, there are
large camp sites on both sides of the highway. The spot at the east
end of the valley is the closest to water. The spot at the west end
of the valley is located at the actual trailhead, but the small creek
only has water through June.
- Trail Location:
From Calaveras County, Angels Camp. Go East on Hwy. 4. Towards Big
Trees State Park. Go past Bear Valley Ski Resort, past Lake Alpine,
to Mosquito Lake. At the east end of Mosquito Lake, gear down, or
put your 4WD in 4 Low. You don't have to lock the hubs, it just gives
you lower gears, so you don't get your brakes hot. Drop down the Pacific
Grade, go past the Pacific Valley turnoff, and continue about two
miles into Hermit Valley. You will cross the river; there is a large
group campsite, just past the river on the left. Or continue onto
the east end of the valley, where there is camping on the right, with
the river about 200 feet away.
- Camp Area
Facilities: East end of valley, has no facilities. Only water
available is from the river. West end of valley has a vault toilet,
and a small creek through the month of June.
- Trail Head
Location: Is at the west end of the valley on the north side of
Hwy. 4. Up behind where the vault toilet and Forest Service Message
Board is located. It is actually a jeep trail.
- Trail difficulty:
Mostly easy. The first mile of the trail is the worst. A steep climb,
and very rocky. After that it turns into a moderate, sometimes rutted
OHV Trail. With a couple large creeks to cross.
- To be aware
of: This trail is popular with the OHV'ers that are looking to
crawl over rocks. They all drive extremely slow, and you can hear
them coming from a long ways away. So you have plenty of time to move
off the trail. I have pulled over many times just to watch them as
it is very entertaining. They are a very friendly bunch of folks and
are very careful not to spook the horses.
- Trail Elevation:
Hermit Valley approx. 6700 feet. The highest point on the trail Approx.
- Trail Length:
Approximately 15 miles round trip. On horseback it takes 3 hours each
way, not including lunch.
Stanislaus National Forest Map.
- Trail High
Points /Low points: High
. The beautiful meadows and creeks
along with the waterfalls just south of Blue Lakes. Low
sometimes will encounter motorcycles.
Beginning of trailhead is steep and very rocky, but easy to follow.
It is a jeep trail the whole way to Blue Lakes. After the first mile,
the trail turns into a regular jeep trail with ruts, creeks, and standing
water. If you stay on the trail, you can't go wrong. Once you get to
Blue Lakes, you will see the dam in front of you spreading to your left.
The spillway is really cool as it looks like the front of a little cabin,
with the water being released underneath. You can follow the road up
and to the left about a mile, to Twin Lakes. Very nice lunch spot, with