Explore the most popular wildlife trails in El Dorado National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great hike!

Not great for hiking as you get further on the trail. It is overrun by poison oak and blackberry bushes. We were not able to complete the hike even though we wanted to. Bummer since we drove all the way from Sacramento.

We’re new to the area, so it was good that we came prepared with a gps because we lost the trail a few times. The rivers were absolutely stunning, though, and the peak climb was manageable even with our 8mo old daughter in the backpack. Nice change in scenery too, from old wood forest to rushing waterfalls and plenty of rock scrabbling for young kids. There was a ton of dead wood in the forested areas, which made it easy to lose the trail, but overall, it was a great full-day hike. Oh, be sure to let someone know where you are, no cell phone signal and w only met 4 people on the hike.

It sucked. I wouldn’t recommend going.

Trail conditions: 5/13/18

Trail is wet and sloppy from melt off with patches of snow below 7,700 ft (full coverage above). There are also a few downed trees blocking the trail.

0-3 miles: Wet and sloppy, with some small patches of snow.
3-4 miles: Larger patches of snow. Easy to lose trail if not paying attention.
4.5 miles: Trail completely covered by snow.

Overall the trail to Sylvia is doable, but the last 2 miles are slow going. Also, make sure to wear waterproof boots!

Great scenic hike in Amador/Alpine county that leads to an even more scenic view when you reach the top. The weather is consistently great in the summer (perfect hiking temperature’s).

Snow starts at mile 2.5 . Beautiful view at the peak as always! Ralston Lake still covered with snow.

Great hike. Snow for about 1/4 of the trip near the summit. Great views!

17 days ago

Did this hike today. Still lots of snow near the top which makes it a bigger challenge. It was warm for the first half but once you hit the snow we also were smacked with pretty windy conditions. I would prefer it later in the summer when the snow melts but for those looking for a more difficult hike, this could be it.

18 days ago

Hiked this trail late April. Still quite a bit of snow on the ground as the trail is mostly on a north facing slope. Trail was a little hard to follow in the snow. It was a gorgeous day and the view from the leap was amazing! Crystal clear day!

24 days ago

Did this trail today with my friends. Steady climb for sure Still a lot of snow Top was very cold but worth the view Good day on Mount Ralston

Packed my snowshoes just because and was glad I did. Still enough snow covering the trail to make it more challenging. Cold and windy at the top with no place to hide. Coming down was fun, the snow was melting a bit and it mage for some slippery going. Love this hike, worth the effort.

25 days ago

Great run today, no crampons, top third solid snow stayed hard till about 10.. harder run than no snow for sure,

1 month ago

The difficulty/reward ratio on this trail is in favor of hikers who want to complete one of their first summits and boast, "so yeah, this weekend I climbed a mountain... No biggie." At 6.5 miles total, it is brief and perfect for a day hike. Make no mistake, however, it isn't a walk in the park the whole way up. Your legs will get a work out.

Shortly after the trailhead, which is located at a parking lot along I-50 that is often not plowed between Dec-Mar, a series of switchbacks zigzagging their way through a densely forested area begin. This goes on quite a bit, and takes up a significant portion of the hike. Those who want spectacular views - fear not! - as the views begin once you get in the clearer area at a higher elevation where less vegetation grows. It will start to get steep and you may be wishing for those gentle switchbacks you were on recently.

Speaking of vegetation, near the summit you will pass contorted and twisted trees known as "Krumholtz", German for "crooked wood". Looking like something out of a Guillermo del Doro film, these deformed trees live a tough life due to incessant wind and snow. Soak in the views of Lake Tahoe, various other alpine lakes including Aloha Lake, Mt Tallac in the distance, from the summit.

Bonus: at your own risk, on the right side of the summit, there is a Class 3 scramble on extremely loose rocks and climb that can get you to one of the lakes.

1 month ago

I just did this hike today. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the top because of all the snow. I kept slipping and sliding and decided I'd have to come back and try again once it melts a little more! But the climb up was an awesome workout, and it's a beautiful trail :)

Cool hike especially if you are getting ready for longer trips. I went to the top on 4/13/18 and the last rain had washed away the previous footprints towards the top so having a gps made it a lot easier to follow. While following my footsteps out I found some bear prints next to mine that weren’t there during the hike up.

1 month ago

I give this about 3.5 really. The drive there was super rough; of course I do have a civic (which sucks for dirt roads, I know), but it's still a very muddy and bumpy road getting there, and parking is unmarked and tough to figure out where exactly to do so.
The hike itself is pretty steep, but pretty and veeery quiet, which I love. It's not usually crowded (I ran into nobody on my recent trek), probably because the drive there sucks, but it's a fun yet steep path that leads to a cute little spot to listen to Otter Creek and picnic on the rocks. :) Just know you'll be tired on the way back up, it's an a** kicker.. Enjoy!
P.S. - In the summer, especially, bring bug spray.

The last 2 miles or so driving in is a rough one-lane road. We were glad we had a truck for the extra clearance. We parked 0.2 miles from the intersection for Bottlehill Rd. and walked up Breedlove another 0.2 miles to reach the road where the trail starts. Beautiful trail. We didn't see another soul the whole day (midweek on Spring Break). We had to take our boots off to cross the creek, but it was totally doable, maybe 18 inches deep. Not much flat land on this hike; all uphill/downhill.

2 months ago

Can feel like one long slog. Best as an overnight backpack. Have used the route to Sylvia several times over the past 20 years as a tuneup for long high altitude climb approaches. Dog poop can be problematic so watch your step.

bring something to cross the creek in.

very decent, not so steep hike. awesome forest. took us 4 hours

great primitive hut to rent, reserve online at recreation.gov During the winter snowshoe or AT ski in for a night. Spectacular sunsets during clear skies. heat and a privy are provided, everything else including water you must bring.

Super awesome hike!!! A little snowy at the bottom but clears up pretty quick! Great view at the top!

My fav. summer swim hole. Side note: I just passed the trailhead today and the parking area is plowed, year round access baby.

3 months ago

A bit of noisy disruption at the beginning of the hike. Tractors tearing down burned trees that are probably a falling risk.. Beautiful hike though, I would say very slightly moderate.. pretty easy hike. The incline on your initial way back to the Trailhead is a little struggle and then pretty easy all the way back!

3 months ago

A little too manicured for our taste but a really lovely wooded walk. We took an off shoot down to the creek that was two miles round trip and that was a good workout. all in all a nice day.

Had a little trouble finding the trailhead, there's no signs until a little ways in. Gorgeous scenery though! The way back up is a little tough but totally doable. The spot at the creek is a perfect place to explore and have lunch before hiking back out. Also, once we got to the Otter Creek Trail sign, we weren't sure if we should go left or right, we picked left and were not disappointed in the slightest. We'll probably go right next time to check it out. Highly recommended spot!

9.6 mike loop. Awesome trail.

Great hike. Just be prepared that parts of the trail aren’t clearly marked, so using GPS can be very helpful.

4 months ago

A nice hike through portions of the El Dorado National Forest. Parking is available at the day use lot of the Dru Barner campground for $3. The trail departs south from the campground information kiosk. To get there, if you take a left turn at the sign for Dru Barner (a few hundred yards before the turn for Bottle Hill Road) you will have paved USFS access roads instead of a rutted dirt road. The trail is well marked with USFS markers.

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