Bake Oven Trail is a 9.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Foresthill, California that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round.
Hiked this trail to try something new. I'm a pretty experience hiker but this trail was tough getting back to the trailhead. The whole way consisted of climbing uphill or down. There is a beautiful creek or River in the middle where you cross a bridge. The trail turns to the right after that and begins going uphill and around the cliff and back down ending at a smaller creek or River. The bake oven is on the left and wasn't too exciting, but was still fun to reach and explore. The trail changed quite a bit after the bridge with a few beautiful views off the right side. Saw a lot of lizards and a few banana slugs. The water felt great! Wasn't my favorite hike but I might revisit it again someday :) Was definitely a good workout!
If you are like me, then you saw the name of this trail and wondered what, exactly, a Bake Oven is. Maybe you searched the internet and saw some other sites which said it was a REAL Bake Oven. This thing must be pretty special, you think, if it has it's own trail and people trek all the way out there to see it.
So yesterday we set out to unravel the Great Mystery of the Bake Oven. Let me say that if you want to see this thing then you definitely have to earn it. According to my watch, from the trailhead to the end (one-way) it was 2560 feet cumulative descent, and 740 feet ascent, much of that is in short nigh-vertical sections on either side of the trail "summit" just after the footbridge, where it branches off from the Western States trail. After this point the whole trail is covered in deep leaves and is in many places eroded down to about 6 inches wide. This whole section is also partly exposed to the sun on this south-facing slope so I wouldn't even try it if it's more than like 75F out. We dayhiked it but maybe it would be better to spend the night there (packing very light) - there was one campsite on the river next to the Oven. The swimming might be OK, although it's mostly gravel bars and not much in the way of interesting granite stuff. There were a couple good views of the canyon, tons of lizards, probably a lot of rattlesnakes, but not much else.
As for the Bake Oven itself, it wasn't just an Easy Bake Oven™ someone had left out there like we thought it would be. It's just an unusually well preserved version of one of those stone miner's huts that has a stone fireplace-slash-Oven in it, see the picture.