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great day for a hike! trail was hard to find in places. I wish I had just gone out and back.

hiking
8 days ago

Did this 9/15/18. Soooo windy! Tough hike but really fun, beautiful views!

This has been my favorite hike so far. Beautiful scenery!

hiking
24 days ago

One of my favorite hikes!! Bring a lunch and enjoy the beautiful view!!

hiking
30 days ago

This was a beautiful hike! I definitely would not rate this as hard - more like moderate. The only difficult part was heading back up from the river. The waterfall and river are totally worth this short steep section. Otherwise very easy trail that makes for a nice afternoon hike!

I absolutely loved this trail....my friend who is not a hiker came with me, we made it to the top no issues. amazing views. started raining as we were on the top. As we hiked down the rocks were extremely slippery. I hit a rock just right and rolled my ankle. Continued to hike until I couldn't go any further. Had to call 911 and be rescued out. Tualome co fire dept is absolutely AMAZING. 4 firemen hiked me out. Turns out I fractured my fibula in two places, had to have surgery requiring a metal plate with screws in my ankle. Still recovering but you can bet I will be back!

hiking
1 month ago

I hiked this trail today, 20 October 2018.

This trail and lake are gorgeous! The route is a manageable distance and elevation change, but the altitude slowed me down more than I expected. I imagine this lake being absolutely stunning on a sunny day (needs sun to be bright blue!) after a light snow. The sky today was clear and the lake was incredible. It’s not a massive lake, but definitely big enough for dogs and brave people to swim around and enjoy. The river, flowers, and icy waterfalls on the way were beautiful as well.

Trail:
The AllTrails directions will get you to the exact trailhead parking. Start your app where you have service and keep it on if you’d like to double check your progress to the lake. You’ll park along the road before the “9000 ft elevation” sign. Walk down the hill and cross the creek. You should see the trail go back up and over. The creeks were passable at this time without getting wet (as long as you can jump or rock walk, but it still isn’t that intense). Keep in mind that they’ll be a bit fuller and faster later in the day as the ice melts.
I found the trail to be easily followable. The path is well worn, and even at spots that were briefly uncertain, the area is clear enough to look on and see where you need to go. It’s a fairly straight trail anyway, you could point-and-shoot/river walk your way there easily. The hardest part was a bit of a rock slide scramble, but it was manageable. There was no ice or snow today to deal with. The only confusing part I got to was the last plateau of elevation before the last few tenths of a mile. The trail kind of abruptly ended at a step ridge, and it wasn’t obvious to me whether I was supposed to go over it or to head down the cliff side to the river. I realized that dropping down to the river was the correct way after a bit of bumbling around the ridge figuring the river will get me there anyway. The drop to the river was a bit harrowing at first, but there are plenty of rocks to make multiple points of contact on so you don’t totally eat it. From there, it was an easy walk up the river/trail to the lake.
The walk back is obviously just as simple. You can see the road once you’re halfway back. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but it’s really really hard to get lost. There are opportunities to take a harder path over some rocks of course. My dog always found an easier way it seemed!

Overall, I thought this trail was moderate for someone in reasonable shape who can handle some climbing or at least butt scooting up and down rocks. It would’ve been easy if it weren’t for the altitude and those two spots that were a bit difficult to traverse.

Time:
I left the trailhead at 7:45 AM, about 20 minutes after sunrise. No one else was parked there, and I had about two hours to myself at the lake before heading back. I didn’t pass anyone else until about 11:15 when I was almost back to my car. At that point the lot was almost full and about 5 people were headed to the lake.
Leaving that early was nice because it was definitely bright enough to see, but the ridge shaded the trail (there are no trees) on the way up. Once I got to the lake, I had to wait about 30 minutes for the sun to hit the lake and reflect it’s gorgeous blue.

Dogs:
My hiking buddy today was my 16 month old lab mix. Apparently these trails require dogs to be on leash, but there were a few times I had to let him off so that we could safely negotiate the rock scrambles and creek crossings without messing each other up. I recommend having your pup wear a harness. It’s far easier for humans to scoot down steep ridges without forward momentum sending you over, and I had to pull on him a few times to help him brake. Of course he jumped rocks, creeks, and swam in the lake like a CHAMP. Keep this in mind if your dog is not the best on off leash recall, or if they’re not the most agile. Your dog will need supervision/coaching, especially on those steep parts I mentioned. Also, check their paws for scratches/blisters. Apply paw wax before leaving if they aren’t used to walking on rocks.

Bring:
Layers! It was in the 40s when I started hiking. About halfway, I got hot enough to shed the jacket and balaclava. It was also a tad windy at the lake.
Sunscreen. There is no shade after about 1030 AM.
Snacks. I like to bring dried fruit at high altitudes. There didn’t appear to be wildlife threats keeping people from bringing small snacks. I did not bring my dogs meat snacks though.
Water. I had a 2.5 liter camelbak that more than lasted me. My dog had some, but mostly preferred the cold, fresh river water to the lodge tap water (I don’t blame him).
Actual hiking boots. You’ll need them when avoiding slippery small rock slides while gripping onto bigger rocks that are cold or slick in the creek. Also, some rock spots are ankle breakers.

I think poles are unnecessary, if not inconvenient. I needed my hands free for the rock scrambles.

Enjoy!

This trail is easily one of my top trails to visit again. Just did this trail yesterday and the view was amazing. The hike might be short but man it was tough, but totally worth it. Recommend 5/5 stars!

My boyfriend and I hiked this trail in early Oct 2018. For fitness context, I am a mid twenty year old who goes to the gym 2-3 days a week and is active during my job and my boyfriend is in his early 30's and goes to the gym 4 days a week. We found this trail really great and got a nice workout in without feeling spent or crazy sore by the end. As people have mentioned, the bouldering is the main challenging part of this hike, but it's pretty short and surprisingly easy. For example, several dogs were able to do it. It took us from around 1:00-5:00 for the whole hike, but we stopped and explored the area around Cleo's Bath a bit. Also, the trail isn't incredibly well marked once you leave the pinecrest lake loop, so watch for the blue areas and stay with your group! We picked up a lost hiker on the way back to the lake so it definitely can happen. there was no place to get portable water along the trail but there was a flowing river so bring water or a filter. The only bathrooms were at the beginning of the trail.
Overall, a very beautiful hike for a wide variety of fitness levels.

The area is multi-use, so you will be sharing the trails with mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, equestrians, and cows. Most people start at the parking lot at the base of Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park off of Foothill Road.

Most of the Ridgeline Trail section has very little shade so expect a lot of sun exposure. The air can also be quite dry during the dry seasons, and temperatures can get into the 90s during the summer. There are more shades from trees when you get to the Shady Creek area, and it is also quieter once you are on the other side of the ridge away from the highway.

There are a lot of intertwining trails so it’s easy to make a wrong turn, but often (but not always), if you keep going it will reconnect back. When you approach some of the steeper peeks, you typically have the option of going over or around.

There are more connected trails beyond Shady Creek Trail so if you are so inclined you can go well beyond the ~14 miles covering Ridgeline and Shady Creek. I suspect you can do a 50k loop out of this ridge system, but haven’t tested it personally.

You could go south on Ridgeline Trail instead of north, but it ends relatively quickly, and I personally didn’t find it as worthwhile as heading north so I have done it once, and haven’t gone back since. It just ends at some private property so it really isn’t worth going there unless that was your property.

Most of the creeks in the Shady Creek area are dried out by late summer, but if you go in winter or early spring you may need to get your feet wet at a few of the creek crossings.

I use AT&T, and I had a signal most of the front section of this loop, but I did not have any signal near the back section of Shady Creek. Very few people venture that far back so you may be quite isolated back there. Though I did make a wrong turn and saw a house on top of the ridge so there must be some kind of road back there.

hiking
1 month ago

October 7, 2018, first dusting of snow last week. Clear and sunny but 40 mph north east gusts at the summit. Trail off of the PCT isn’t hard to find, follows the Ridgeline. Pretty much all uphill. Incredible hike, Snow on the mountains adds a lot.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail, but watch for the turns. It is largely unmarked. There is a large stone arrow on the ground at one junction that directs you the correct way. As previously reviewed, the last bit of the trail leading to the Chattooga River is STEEP! The views of the falls and the river make the climb worth it.

hiking
1 month ago

It’s easy to lose the trail just after you hit St Mary’s pass and around where you connect up w the PCT. Also, the final mile back to the trailhead is basically just walking along 108. Epic views all around and VERY windy at the top.

9/29/18 Did the loop as a day trip. 7 hours of walking, an hour of lunch and yoga and an hour of taking photos and just enjoying log sitting.
Clockwise is the way to go - esp for water. Plenty at camp, lily pad, piute, gem and grouse. Nothing between gem and grouse on main trail.
No insects just golden ferns, mushrooms and beauty ❤️

took about 1.25 hours to hike to the lake, some loose uphill but not bad at all. the lake was beautiful, some bees were around but not enough to disrupt the view. 10/10 would recommend!

Very nice mostly easy terrain until you get to the boulders. For me it was harder going up then coming down but totally worth it even without the waterfall. I’d advise wearing pants or longer shorts as I had to be in some awkward positions to climb the rocks and get back down. No woman wants scraped up legs. I enjoyed that it wasn’t full on sun. There was plenty of shade to enjoy on a hot day. Although I did see dogs at the bath I wouldn’t recommend bringing them up there. Also bring a backpack keep your hands free as you will need them both to get up to the bath.

Very nice trail . We didn’t have any trouble finding
The trails , not much water but it’s a beautiful place

Went counterclockwise for the loop. Labor Day weekend was quite busy, but we found a great spot overlooking Gem Lake. Several good dayhikes are possible from Gem. Scarce mosquitos this time of year. The lake water is very cold and refreshing, and tastes good once filtered. No complaints other than the holiday crowd.

There is a good amount of elevation to climb towards Gem Lake from both directions. Be prepared to rest and catch your breath (you’re well above a mile up) if you have to.

backpacking
2 months ago

We did the lower part of the loop--Crabtree to Grouse Lake to just before the turnoff to Gem Lake, and then back. This would be a great hike except that on Labor Day weekend there was no water in any of the creeks (Lily, Piute, or Cherry).The only source of water between Crabtree and Gem Lake was Grouse Lake, and it had been badly fouled by cattle. I was really glad to have a good water filter but the filter was completely clogged after several uses. On the plus side, there were no mosquitoes--not a one.

Cool place for some backpacking. Parking can be brutal. Somewhat, busy, from the amount of cars you see, but hiking wise, it’s isn’t that bad. Started our hike at 10:45am and made it to Gem Lake by 3:15pm. Found a great spot and it wasn’t too crowded. NO MOSQUITOES AT ALL, so that was awesome. We did the hike clock-wise and this is what I would recommend for everyone wanting to the the loop.

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing! Great hike not for the beginner. So beautiful the water is so blue, along the trail you’ll see waterfalls, wild flowers and beautiful rock formations. I’m ready to do it again!

Good hike; if you do geocaching like I do, DO NOT TAKE THE LEFT FORK! It is as stated, a cliff. The climb back up wasn’t worth it for me. The hike was easy but fulllll of silk weaving critters that seem to have silk throughout the entire trail!! I had to walk with a branch out in front to catch most of the silkies.

hiking
2 months ago

Really great hike! I took my dog (3-legged) and we both enjoyed it a lot. Only struggle was climbing back up the trail from the bottom of the waterfall. Also suggest longer pants for anyone with plant allergies as some parts of the trail are a bit overgrown. 100% worth it for the views.

We did this 20 mile loop, counter clockwise, in one day. It was a long day (took us about 9.5 hours to complete) but definitely doable.

We were surprised to see lots of cows grazing around Bell Meadow and near Grouse Lake as well. Just a heads up as we were a bit startled the first time we came across them. We saw lots of mosquitos as Grouse, but the rest of the trail was pretty free of them.

We also struggled with trail markers after about the 7th mile out. We got a little turned around on our way back, at around mile 14. The trail is very dry and dusty this time of year, but the sky was clear (no smoke!) and the scenery is truly breathtaking.

The lakes and creeks were teeming with mosquitoes. Even with deet and smokey campfires, I got about fifty bites, mostly near the creek crossing where we camped around mile 6.

Gem lake (10mi) was free of mosquitoes around 1pm and was lovely to swim in. I expect it would have been a nice place to camp without getting eaten so badly.

Grouse Lake (15mi) was also not too bad, but still not great.

Lots of horse poop on the trail.

Pretty hike but lots of mosquitos, my sister and I got eaten alive towards the end of the hike.

Parts of the trails were misleading. But overall it has beautiful scenery with some wildlife added to the trip. The hike is for sure over 6.7 miles. Also you need to be aware of some rock climbing involved. Overall I would recommend nice trail.

Was rather smokey when we started, but got better later in the morning. Challenging, but the worth the trek. Great view from the top!

Even in late summer with little flowing water the pools and vistas make the hike more than worthwhile!

backpacking
3 months ago

gorgeous hike with wildflowers and a big green lake. the stream crossings are super manageable this time of year but be aware of high risk for forest fires. we backpacked in and had the whole lake to ourselves. dog friendly!

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