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~~Last updated March 2003~~

Wolf Creek

Suggested map: Caron-Iceberg Wilderness, Stanislaus and Toiyabe National Forests, California and Nevada, Mt. Diablo Meridan, 1987.

On this page are links to several trail descriptions in the Wolf Creek/Carson-Iceberg Wilderness:

Wolf Creek is a truly incredible place to ride. Back in the mountains, east of Ebbetts Pass, at the edge of the Carson/Iceberg Wilderness, is a beautiful valley.

Wolf CreekLocked between towering ridges that parallel the meadow, Wolf Creek is a great place to camp for the weekend, or for several days. The riding from here goes into the wilderness and is quite extensive. You could elect to pack for many nights and not see all the Carson/Iceberg Wilderness has to offer. This area is the headwaters of the Carons River, stretching from the top of Sonora Pass to the bottom of Ebbetts Pass.

The riding can be deemed 'advanced' in many parts of the wilderness. From trees down across the trail in areas that are way too steep to maneuver around, to exposed, rocky sections seemingly only fit for mountain goats -- one might wonder where the 'fun' trails are!

Well, stick with me and I'll give you a description of these great trails with enough detail to let you make up your own mind on which way to travel. Remember though, only you can be responsible for your own safety -- and that of your horse!

Getting There

Wolf Creek is off Highway 4, Ebbetts Pass, just west of Markleville, CA. From Markleville, follow Highway 89 south, along the Carson River. You'll come to an intersection with Highway 89 turning left. You'll continue straight on Highway 4, two miles to Centerville Flat. Turn left onto Wolf Creek Road. Continue on this road about 5.5 miles to the end, into the campground. Caution: this road turns to dirt about half way and becomes very steep. If it's had a lot of traffic, it is also loose and rocky. Suggest 4-wheel drive if available. If not, you may have to elect to unload the horses and hand-walk them up this steep spot.

I would suggest camping at the campground at the far west end of the meadow, at the end of the long dirt road. There is water in the creek (filter!) and an outhouse. Camping is free. Best to be self-contained to help preserve the environment. Read my Camping Etiquette.

The Trails
Deanne & Gabe crossing the Carson River from the River Trail at Grays Crossing

I would suggest starting with the easiest trail: Wolf Creek Trail to Bull Lake, 8.5 miles, one way.

This trail starts right from the campground, near the entrance on an old dirt road, and continues due south, up canyon, following Wolf Creek upstream.

You'll get a feel for the type of trails in this area by riding this trail as you encounter granite slabs to cross, steep sections, scary drop off's, etc! Just remember that your horse doesn't really want to trip or fall down any more than you want him to. It's best just to give him his head and let him pick his way (unless you're training a youngster!)

This trail runs mostly along the creek which is very beautiful and can be flowing quite well. It wanders through woods and meadows and crosses several side creeks. These side creeks have better places to water your horse at, rather than trying to get into Wolf Creek itself.

About 4 miles up is the intersection with Bull Canyon Trail. Follow this another couple of miles to Bull Lake. Nice Lake (except in mosquito season!) and lots of good fishing. Around the lake there is camping and grazing. A nice day ride and picnic destination.

If you decide to take the other fork, which is essentially staying on the Wolf Creek Trail, you can explore more of the head of the main canyon. Another mile or two is the intersection with the trail that heads east over to Golden Canyon, or more westerly to Wolf Creek Pass. I've ridden the area from Wolf Creek Pass down, and got lost several times (trail poorly marked and many cow trails to mistake) and ended up coming down a steep canyon, off trail, and one horse got stuck in a meadow bog... so take extra care up there.

Towards Golden Canyon, the trail is fairly straight-forward. It starts climbing out of the Wolf Creek Canyon and as you rise up, you get a really nice view down the canyon, and get to see where you were riding all this time! Read more about Golden Canyon Loop (30+ miles).

The second easiest trail in this area is The River Trail.

Longer rides are to Soda Springs, Poison Lake, Falls Meadow, Murray Canyon, and the BEST loop is Golden Canyon (recommended only for endurance riders).

The best map to have along is the Carson/Iceberg Wilderness map.

Created by: Deanne Del Vecchio, of Tahoe Design
Copyright © 1996 - 2006, by Deanne Del Vecchio. All Rights Reserved.

Site Originally Created October 24, 1996. 

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