China Gulch Trail is a 2.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Ione, CA and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and horses and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
It's an okay trail. We went 4th of July weekend and it was crazy hot. Luckily, there was a breeze the entire time we were on the trail. It starts to feel like you're never going to reach the end and you'll question whether you missed it somehow, but just keep going. You can't miss the gate at the end. We only ran into one person the entire time on the trail despite the lake being pretty busy. If you want to add on the little loop, make sure to pay attention. We missed the entrance, turned off where you should be meeting back up with the trail, took it almost back to the beginning, and then had to re-do the trail between the start/end of the loop! Added a little bit extra on. Make sure to bring sunscreen and hats!! Very exposed trail. Nice and long with consistent hills, it definitely helped us with some distance training. Recommend you do it on a cooler day, however. We both got overheated towards the end.
The scenery is rated a 3 while the hike itself earns a 4. The trail is not nearly as bad as others I have been on, with few steep hills. There were many gradual incline and decline hills throughout the trail. Additionally, there were no dangerous parts to the trek (I.E. No narrow paths, steep cliffs, etc.), making the hike very safe for children. The drought has sadly burned most of the lake dry, making the scenery look more like a desert than a lake. There are few areas with trees, so be prepared to sizzle in the heat. Recommended to bring lots of water and anything to block out the sun. All in all, fun and moderately difficult hike, would love to revisit once the drought passes over.
A long and hilly trail perfect for an October day. You couldn't pay me to do it in Summer, however.
Pros: cleanest porta-potties I've ever seen (at trailhead), incredibly we'll-marked trail, beautiful views of Lake Camanche.
Cons: trail (for the majority) is basically a gravel road, very anti-climactic turn-around point, can't get anywhere near the water (not sure why the paranoia ... they let boats out there!)
I would recommend it! Will do again with modifications.
After the hike, which took 3 hours and 20 minutes, we ate lunch in Ione at Clark's Corner and followed it up with some wine-tasting. Perfect day!!!!!!
Very nice trail - well marked, wide. A couple of steep grades, but fine for beginners and dogs on leash. Saw turkeys, deer, livestock and lots of woodepeckers. Met some nice people on horseback. There were very few other folks on the trail. Nice views - stopped at about the 4 mile mark for lunch. Recommend in spring of fall when there is some color and it is cooler - summers in the area are hot and which makes for dry and brown landscape. Porta-potties at the trailhead.
Very nice trail with great views! I've ran this trail a couple times not very difficult but does have one or two steep grades. Its part of the coast to crest trail which goes to campo seco and Paloma area. Seen a lot of deer. Will run again.
At the end of the China Gulch Trail where it ends at Lake Camanche, you can view some of the old gold dredge trailings.
China Gulch is a nice trail close to Ione on Lake Camanche. The pass is one of the best recreation bargains ever! (It can also be used o the South Shore trail system which includes parts of the Coast to Crest trail.) There is a out and back path. There is also a loop that takes one past the lake that is about 3 miles. Hikers can go down to the lake toward the back of the loop.
I like to use the area for training horses and pack animals for more challenging trails. There can be some water and occasional wildlife. I have even seen bald eagles on several occasions.