Plumas-Eureka State Park was established in 1959, and provides visitors with a glimpse into a fascinating period of California history, as well as opportunities for quiet recreation in a beautiful high Sierra mountain setting. The focal point of the park is the museum building and historic area surrounding it. Originally constructed as the miner's bunkhouse, the museum now serves as a visitor center. Inside, displays depict the natural and cultural history of the park. Outside and across the street from the museum is the historic mining area, where the Mohawk Stamp Mill, Bushman five-stamp mill, stable, mine office, Moriarity House (historic miners residence) and the blacksmith shop depict life in gold rush-era California. During the summer, tours of the buildings and blacksmithing demonstrations are conducted by docents and park staff. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, nature study and hiking within the park. Summer temperatures range from about 75 degrees during the day to the low 40s at night, and winter temperatures average from a high of 40 to a low of 20 degrees.
I took this solo overnight backpacking trip on October 4th but ran into an unexpected snow fall and had to make it a day hike. I came back on October 19th to complete what I started but this time, better prepared. My goal was to hike to Wade's Lake, set up camp there and then hike (lighter) to Mt Washington. Unfortunately, due to the snow, I only made it about a mile toward the mountain before I totally lost the trail and had to head back. The hike to Grass Lake is pretty rocky with occasional rock stairways but its not difficult as a couple have rated it. I would rate it somewhere between easy and moderate.
I continued past Grass Lake and onto Wade's Lake. The elevation at Wade's is 6549 ft. It was clearly higher than Grass Lake as there was no snow on the ground at Grass Lake but the grounds at Wade's Lake were all snow. I had the lake entirely to myself, except for a bear who must have crossed my path a few hours after I walked through and was only a few hundred yards from my camp. The lake is beautiful. Not terribly big but very nice. The fish were jumping at dusk but I didnt think to bring a pole....next time though.
My goal was to hit Jamison and Rock Lakes on the hike out but no one had traveled the trail since the snow and trail was impossible to see. I'm sure its an easy 1.25 mile hike when you can see the trail.
Getting there: I came in from Truckee/I80 then north on 89 until I came to Graeagle. There is a sign directing you to the left toward Plumas-Eureka State Park. About 4-5 miles in, another sign directs you to the dirt trail on the left. The sign reads "Jamison Mine, Grass Lake Trail 0.1 miles". Take this vehicle road to the trail head. When you start seeing old mining residences (they're red w/white trim) you're almost there. At the parking area there is a bridge on the right going over Jamison Creek. That leads to a campground. You want the trail with the metal gate on the left.
This was my first hike in California and my first solo backpacking trip ever. The hike up to the lakes is very easy, the only difficulty is the uneven rocky surface that makes up the trail towards the top - I wouldn't recommend this hike if you have bad ankles or knees. Despite the lack of challenge, the views were fantastic all along the trail.
There wasn't much in the way of wildlife, I saw a few species of bird and some chipmunks - much to my chagrin I didn't make friends with a bear. There were, however, tons of Yellowjackets along the trail and at the lakes - they seemed to be making their nests in felled and rotting logs so if you see those along the trail be careful! I kept my distance and didn't freak out when I saw them so they didn't bother me too much.
The trail from the marked-trails end to Jamison lake is really hard to find, I ended up pushing through some bushes and scrambling up a few rocks to look for a campsite. After failing to find a spot that wasn't already occupied (or out of earshot of some noisy party-boys that were there for the holiday weekend) I decided to try my luck at Rock lake instead. The trail to rock lake was much easier and there were good campsites all around the lake - the water was pretty low so it was easy to navigate the circumference of the lake without any trouble. I hung out there for a few hours and took in the scenery before making dinner, hanging my food sack and going to bed.
Overall I would highly recommend this as a backpacking destination especially if you're bringing someone along who is inexperienced and just testing the waters to see if they like it - the ease and beauty of this place will definitely convince them that backpacking is awesome! Even though this was a holiday weekend (Labor Day) the trail was fairly devoid of humans and there were plenty of places to feel totally secluded. If you're looking for a challenging hike you could always set up camp at one of the lakes and continue on to the pacific rim trail for a few miles before turning in for the day.
I don't think you need a pass to visit and camp in this area - though there are signs saying a permit is required to use a camp stove.
Excellent for families and elderly. would be a fabulous short running trail. It's completely flat with little to no obstacles. The lake is peaceful and nice, though not spectacular.
The trail is super easy to navigate compared to some other hikes in the area.
This trail does not allow dogs, making it a positive or negative, depending on your perspective.
This hike is beautiful, with stunning views at the top. It's not well marked, but the peak as the destination makes it fairly intuitive. The "loop" part was unclear, so it became an out and back for me, which was still great. I would rate this moderate to difficult as far as incline.
This is a great hike particularly if part of the group just wants to hang out at Eureka Lake while others hike. The road to the trailhead has improved drastically, making it more appealing as a hiking option.
august 13,warm day but wonderful breeze. so we recorded 12.4 miles starting at the smith Lake trail near the Graegle Lodge on Gold Highway. I'd rate it between medium and difficulty. lot of climbing, lot of loose rock but worth every moment. we went past smith Lake, grass Lake, rock Lake, Jamison Lake and up to wade Lake and looped around back down to grass Lake and back to parking lot. we experienced no mosquitos, no wasps or bees. had to refill water 4 times due to heat. so beautiful, will come back to pack in.
Hiked in past Smith Lake from Graeagle Lodge Road Trailhead. 1 mile to Smith where we camped the first night (got in late). Then the next day about 5-6 miles to Rock Lake. We didn't know about the new "maintained" trail on the far side of Smith Lake that follows the ridge until our way back. It has amazing views of the lake, but it is longer than the old trail. BEWARE: Yellowjackets everywhere. Over a dozen hovered around our car and us at the trailhead. A few at Smith Lake (but it was getting dark... they must go in their nest at night), and tons at Rock Lake. Also heard people were swarmed by them at Grass Lake as well. I think they are all over the area this year. Few mosquitos, tho. Jamison Lake was beautiful! Wish we had camped there instead, as it's greener, seems more "beautiful" to me, although Rock Lake sure has its beauty too. Mid-week trip and we encountered only 3 other groups of backpackers at these 2 lakes.
This hike has it all --lakes, wildflowers, creeks, ferns, shade and sun, waterfalls, and butterflies. Even in mid-July, it was green and lush and in full bloom. Cool breezes on the top of Elwell. This app says "No dogs," but there were other dogs on the trail -including ours. Take your dog! We took a side trip cross country and found Hidden Lake. Not sure why there isn't a trail to this lake. It's not far from Maiden Lake, and it's gorgeous. I've included pictures of it as well as the other lakes you'll see on this amazing hike.
Great hike from Jamison mine past Grass Lake and up to Jamison and Rock Lakes. Steady uphill at the start with rocky path, levels out around Grass Lake then climbs again to Jamison Lake. Wonderful views of the lakes and surrounding mountains. Heavily used trail over the July 4th weekend with lots of family groups and dogs on the trail. Good spots for picnicking on the rocks around Jamison Lake.