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Hiking - Lake Tahoe
Hiking at Lake Tahoe

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Lake Tahoe Hiking


Chapman Creek Trail - Sierra Buttes Area
Mileage: 1.5 mile, one way
Elevation: 5840 to 6400 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Use Level: Light
Season: June through October
Topographic Map: Sierra City 7.5'

Access: Approximately eight miles east of Sierra City on Highway 49, turn into Chapman Creek Campground. The trailhead is located at the north end of the campground and is well marked. Parking is available next to the trailhead sign. Please do not park in any of the campsites.

Trail Description: The trail easily winds up along the contour of Chapman Creek under a heavily forested canopy. Many species of birds, wildflowers, and wildlife may be seen. Along the trail are several ideal sites for picnicking and fishing. Perhaps, on this trail, the most appealing activity of all is to just sit comfortably somewhere along the trailside and enjoy the tranquility of nature.

Crooked Lakes Trail - Grouse Lakes Area
Mileage: 2 1/4 miles one way
Elevation: 6880 to 6880 feet
Difficulty: More Difficult
Use Level: Medium
Topographic Map: English Mtn.

Access: Crooked Lake Trail is accessed at its northern end by Lindsey Lakes Trail and at its southern end by Round Lake Trail.

Trail Description: This trail extends from Island Lake to Upper Rock Lake. The trail is maintained from Island Lake to Penner Lake, one of the most scenic of the Grouse Lakes, with good fishing and a number of good campsites. From Penner Lake the trail climbs to a forested ridge and then descends to Upper Rock Lake.

Devil's Postpile Trail - Sierra Buttes Area
Mileage: 0.1 mile
Elevation: 5720 to 6000 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Use Level: Very light
Season: June through October
Topographic Map: LaPorte 7.5'

Access: The total distance from the turn-off at State Highway 49 is 24.8 miles, with plenty of opportunities to get lost. Follow this description carefully:

From Camptonville follow State Highway 49 east for 12 miles to the Cal Ida Road, which is on the left, just past the Indian Valley Outpost. Or, from Downieville, drive west on State Highway 49 for 12 miles to the turn off, to the right. As you turn off, note the mileage on your car's odometer for future reference.

Proceed north on Cal Ida Road. The road is narrow and winding, so use caution. Logging traffic can be heavy so you might want to turn on your headlights. After 4.5 miles you will pass the old Cal Ida Mill. Directly after the mill the road forks. Follow the right fork for 11.2 miles. The road is paved and has become Forest Road No. 25. For the next several miles you will be driving through part of the 9,000 acres which burned during the 1987 Indian Fire. The Indian Fire was one of the 1,200 fires which blackened a total of 800,000 California acres during the "Siege of 87".

After traveling 11.2 miles from the old Cal Ida Mill on Road 25 you will pass the Eureka Diggins Area, an historic site from the Gold Rush era when Eureka City was a lively mining town. One mile past Eureka Diggins the pavement ends.

From the end of pavement drive 2.5 miles to a point where the road forks. Take the left fork, staying on Road 25. After 1 mile Road 25 veers to the left. Stay on Road 25. (Do not take Road No. 25-29). After 1.5 miles more the road forks again. Take the left fork, still Road 25. (Do not take Road No. 25-31).

Continue for 1.7 miles to the next fork. This time take the right fork. (Do not take Road No. 25-32 which leads to the Morristown Diggings). Driving the last 0.7 mile, you will reach the trailhead where there is ample parking on the road side.

Trail Description: The trail itself is a very short 150-yard uphill climb to the volcanic rock formation called Devil's Postpile. Devil's Postpile was created by volcanic activities before the last Ice Age. The upward movement of lava, upon reaching the earth's surface with its cooling effect, began hardening and shaping into the basalt columns seen now as Devil's Postpile. Such basalt columns, with their very smooth surfaces and columnar shapes, are not uncommon on the West Coast. However, they are quite unique for the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

Haskell Peak Trail - Sierra Buttes Area
Mileage: 1.5 mile, one way
Elevation: 7000 to 8107 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Use Level: Light
Season: June through September
Topographic Map: Clio 7.5'

Access: Approximately five miles east of Sierra City on Highway 49, turn onto Gold Lake Highway at Bassetts Station. Proceed on Gold Lake Highway for three and seven-tenths miles and turn right at the Haskell Peak Road sign. Follow Forest Road 9 for eight and four-tenths miles. (Do not take any of the side roads along the 8.4 miles.) At this point, on your left there is a trailhead sign reading Haskell Creek Trail 11E02. There is ample parking space on both sides of the road. (If you reach the intersection marked "Chapman Saddle," you have gone one and two-tenths mile too far.)

Trail Description: This is a very pleasant trail, climbing moderately through a heavily forested area for the first mile. The trail then flattens and reaches an open area with a view of Haskell Peak. From this point there is a short steep climb for the for the final quarter-mile to Haskell Peak. The view from the top is spectacular. Many feel it surpasses the view seen from the Sierra Buttes. Mount Lassen, Mount Shasta, Mount Rose, Sierra Buttes, and Sierra Valley provide a panoramic view. Haskell Peak also offers interesting volcanic rock formations.

PCT North to Loves Falls - Sierra City Area
Mileage: 2 miles, one way
Elevation: 4400 to 5000 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Use Level: Moderate
Season: May to late October
Topographic Map: Haypress Valley 7.5'

Access: By Auto: The shortest walk to Loves Falls is from the intersection of Hwy 49 and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), 0.2 mile northeast of Sierra City. From Hwy 49 walk 1/4 mile southeast on the PCT. You'll see the falls on your right. For a longer walk (at the northeast end of Sierra City), turn off Highway 49 onto Wild Plum Road at the sign for the Wild Plum Campground. (The sign is located just opposite the Yuba River Inn.) Follow Wild Plum Road for 1 mile to the trailhead parking facility. Walk the trail from the trailhead 1/8 mile to where it crosses the road. Take the road over the bridge and through the campground About 1/2 mile past the campground the trail takes off from the road to the left. Follow it to a fork in the trail past the bridge over Haypress Creek. Take the felt fork staying on the Pacific Crest Trail . (The right fork is Haypress Creek Trail). After 1/4 mile you'll come to another fork. The right fork is the Loves Falls Trail section of the PCT. Take the left fork which completes the Wild Plum Loop Trail.

If camped at Wild Plum: Follow the Wild Plum Loop Trail from the upper end of the campground. About 1/2 mile past the campground the trail takes off from the road to the left. Follow it to a fork in the trail just past the bridge over Haypress Creek. Take the left fork staying on the PCT. (The right fork is Haypress Creek Trail) After 1/4 mile you'll come to another fork. The right fork is the Loves Falls Trail section of the PCT. The left fork is the return portion of the Wild Plum Loop Trail which is a good route to take on your way back.

Trail Description: This is probably one of the most rewarding hikes in the Wild Plum area. From the upper end of Wild Plum Campground follow the new road for 1/2 mile. On your left you will see a creek which originates on the slopes above the Hilda mine. At this point turn left onto the well marked trail. The trail is fairly flat for approximately 1/2 mile to the footbridge across Haypress Creek. In this short section you have an excellent view of the towering Sierra Buttes. At the bridge the Wild Plum Trail merges with the Pacific Crest Trail. Cross the bridge and follow the PCT through a mixed conifer forest where you will get several more glimpses of the Sierra Buttes.

After approximately 1.5 miles you will reach the prime attraction of this hike: Loves Falls. A massive bridge vaults the North Yuba River. The river has cut a mini-gorge through the resistant metavolcanic rock. It thunders from fall to fall, with a deep pool lying at the base of each fall. The Loves Falls hike ends here, although the Pacific Crest Trail continues toward Sierra Buttes and, eventually, to the Canadian border. When returning to the campground, we suggest you hike back on the PCT approximately 3/8 mile to a fork. Take the right branch, marked "Wild Plum Campground." The trail guides you down across a flat area near Wild Plum Guard Station, one of the oldest ranger stations in California (now closed), and back to the campground.

PCT South to Milton Creek - Sierra City Area
Mileage: 2 miles one way
Elevation: 4400 to 5040 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Use Level: Moderate
Season: May through October
Topographic Map: Haypress Valley 7.5'

Access: By Auto: At the northeast end of Sierra City turn off Highway 49 onto Wild Plum Road at the sign for the Wild Plum Campground. (The sign is located just opposite the Yuba River Inn.) Follow Wild Plum Road for 1 mile to the trailhead parking facility. Walk the trail from the trailhead 1/8 mile where it crosses the road. This is the intersection of Wild Plum Loop Trail. Take the road across the bridge and through the campground. About 1/2 mile past the campground the trail takes off from the road to the left. Follow it to the intersection at a bridge over Haypress Creek. The Milton Creek Trail is the trail to the right just before the bridge.

If Camped at Wild Plum: Start at the upper end of Wild Plum Campground and follow the Wild Plum Loop Trail. About 1/2 mile past the campground the trail takes off from the road to the left. Follow it to the intersection at a bridge over Haypress Creek. The Milton Creek Trail is the trail to the right just before the bridge.

Trail Description: This is one of the easiest trails in the Wild Plum Campground Area, providing a peaceful walk up beautiful Milton Creek. From the campground the road goes through a heavily forested area. The Milton Creek Trail is actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail. To access the trail, take a right turn onto the PCT and head south. Shortly the trail crosses a road and follows Milton Creek for approximately 1 mile to a bridge across Milton Creek, which is an ideal place for picnicking. This last mile of trail is relatively flat and scenic. The Milton Creek hike stops here, although the PCT continues south to Jackson Meadow and eventually arrives at the Mexican border.

When returning to the campground, we suggest following the Pacific Crest Trail across the Haypress Creek Bridge. It passes through a lightly forested area which provides you several glimpses of the towering Sierra Buttes. 1/2 mile past the bridge you will reach a fork. Take the left fork, clearly marked for Wild Plum Campground. The trail guides you down to a flat area near the old Wild Plum Guard Station (now closed). In a few more minutes you will cross Haypress Creek and arrive in the campground.

Sand Pond Interpretive Trail - Sierra Buttes Area
Mileage: 0.8 mile
Elevation: 6000 to 6000 feet
Difficulty: Easiest
Use Level: Moderate
Season: June through October
Topographic Map: Sierra city 7.5'

Access: On Highway 49, approximately five miles east of Sierra City, turn onto Gold Lake Highway at Bassetts Station. Continue for about one and four-tenths mile, turn left at Salmon Creek bridge, and proceed west toward Sardine Lake for approximately one mile to the Sand Pond Swim Area parking lot. (This trail can also be accessed near Unit 3 of Sardine Lake Campground.)

Mileage: 0.8 mile
Elevation: 6000 to 6000 feet
Difficulty: Easiest
Use Level: Moderate
Season: June through October
Topographic Map: Sierra city 7.5'

Access: On Highway 49, approximately five miles east of Sierra City, turn onto Gold Lake Highway at Bassetts Station. Continue for about one and four-tenths mile, turn left at Salmon Creek bridge, and proceed west toward Sardine Lake for approximately one mile to the Sand Pond Swim Area parking lot. (This trail can also be accessed near Unit 3 of Sardine Lake Campground.)

Trail Description: The trail begins either at the gate on the west (right) side of the parking lot near the sign explaining the history of Sand Pond, or at a point adjacent to the accessible parking area on the east side of the lot. The western route passes through the picnic area between the dressing room and lake. The eastern trailhead route and the remainder of Sand Pond Trail are designed to meet accessibility standards at Challenge Level 2 (facilities are useable by an athletic disabled person without assistance but generally, a person with limited mobility would probably need assistance). Both trailheads serve the same trail.

At the southeast end of the lake the trail splits. The right fork will take you around Sand Pond and the left fork is the Sand Pond Interpretive Loop Trail. This trail provides an interesting route through a forest/marsh transitional zone and discusses some of the elements and relationships that occur here. A variety of wildlife live in this area and its a good spot for viewing birds, insects, and sometimes, beaver. The interpretive signs located along the route will help you explore and enjoy the area.

Upper Salmon Lake Trail - Sierra Buttes Area
Mileage: 2 miles, one way
Elevation: 6500 to 7110 feet
Difficulty: Easy
Use Level: Moderate
Season: June through October
Topographic Map: Gold Lake 7.5'

Access: Approximately five miles east of Sierra City on Highway 49, turn onto Gold Lake Highway at Bassetts Station. Continue on Gold Lake Highway for four miles until you reach the clearly marked Salmon Lake junction. Turn left and proceed to Upper Salmon Lake. The trailhead is on your right There is limited parking.

Trail Description: This trail, like the Deer Lake Trail, terminates at Deer Lake. However, this is a slightly shorter hike than the Deer Lake Trail. The first half mile is relatively flat as it skirts the east side of Upper Salmon Lake and passes through Salmon Lake Lodge. After crossing Horse Lake Creek the trail heads south past Horse Lake and climbs through a series of steep switchbacks. It soon reaches a saddle where it merges with the Deer Lake Trail. This point provides a panoramic view of Horse Lake and Upper Salmon Lake, with a massive glacial moraine in the background. Another two-tenths mile brings you to beautiful Deer Lake, an ideal place to picnic and fish.

Pacific Crest Trail Access: The trail also provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail at the ridge, two-tenths mile before reaching Deer Lake. The PCT access route is clearly marked.

If transportation can be arranged, hikers may wish to return to the Deer Lake Trailhead near Packer Lake. See the description for Deer Lake Trail for details. Salmon Lake Lodge has no restaurant or other facilities for hikers.

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