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~~Last updated March 2003~~

This trail description was contributed by Heidi Burckart of the Gold Country's Horsemen's Association of Sutter Creek, Ca.



  • 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. 8000 feet.
  • Trail Length: Approximately 15 miles round trip. On horseback it takes 3 hours each way, not including lunch.
  • Maps: 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…. You sometimes will encounter motorcycles.

Trail Description: 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 sandy beaches.

Created by: Deanne Del Vecchio, of Tahoe Design
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Site Originally Created October 24, 1996. 

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