Cronan Ranch West Ridge Trail via Gerle Loop

MODERATE 93 reviews

Cronan Ranch West Ridge Trail via Gerle Loop is a 12.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Lotus, California that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, horses, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 12.3 miles Elevation Gain: 1,830 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

running

river

To reach the trailhead drive about 10 miles east of Auburn on State Route 49 to Pedro Hill Road. The Park contains about 12 miles of trails. Seven main trails converge near this parking area. The West Ridge Trail leaves the parking area at around 900 ft elevation, climbs 300 feet then descends 600 feet to the river. This regional park is largely open grassland and rolling hills dotted with clumps of oak forest. There are some great views looking down at a white water stretch of the South Fork American River that is popular with river rafters in the summer. Hiker awareness is important for those who have known the miseries of poison oak rash. In some areas the stuff seems to thrive out in the open in great thicket besides the trail. Down near the river the trail passes into a shady forest, winds in and out of a ravine, crosses a creek and passes a bench containing the remnant of an old mining operation. Wildflowers are more abundant in this forested area. At that point you will turn around and backtrack uphill to place where several trails converge, the Long Valley Trail, the Cronan Ranch Road, and connecting laterals that lead to the river and other trails. It is also the site of a former motion picture set containing a ranch house, a corral, and a chicken coop all in need of restoration. You will return via the Long Valley Trail through an area where oak restoration work is in progress. Each oak sprig, protected by a three or four inch piece of tubing and a square of black mesh to keep critters from feasting on tender leaves and, no doubt, for other reasons not so apparent, is watered periodically by the restoration gang until the small plants get established.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful view and open hike. We went early before the crowd and it was definitely worth it. Such a great trail for families and kids. Our dog loved the open space. Once down to the river it was a great view. There are picnic tables as well near one part of the river which was nice to relax at. Definitely a must

hiking
1 month ago

No shade the route we took. Wasn’t even a hot day but like if shade made it no fun. Good for kids if it’s not hot out!!

running
2 months ago

Amazing run! I ended up having to take the Down and up trail back because of a mountain bike race. Great for a run some technical parts. Great way to get in shape for my Spartan Beast race. Highly recommended. Especially if you swing by the river at the end and take a quick dip. River to full for a swim.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful! Lots of trail options on where to go, and you can connect to the greater south fork trail. Nice for a casual stroll or for a hilly workout! My dog loved playing in the water, just make sure you check for ticks after! I was there about a month ago and it was rolling green all around. Not a ton of shade though, I wouldn't go in full summer without planning for a HOT hike.

hiking
5 months ago

I went in mid April, everything is lush and in bloom after the rains. I Loved this hike and the trail as a whole. I took a different route only because I wanted to see the movie set shack. I picked up the trail just beyond the old shack. Beautiful views on the way down, great workout. Make sure to bring plenty of water. I missed the turn on the bottom and went a half mile beyond the cesspool. However, I quickly figured it out and went back. There is no trail to get to the water so you need to walk over large rocks. The hike back up is no joke and it is a long one so wear comfy shoes. I will do this again!

hiking
5 months ago

I found this gem at this last minute when looking for a new trail to hike. I fell in love with this place, truly amazing!

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful! Some spots easier than others, but in all loved it.

hiking
muddy
no shade
6 months ago

Just got done doing this with our dog. Nice and open with a variety of terrain. Takes you down to the river which is flowing very fast and wide right now. Cool to see. We ended up doing about 12.2 miles only because we took the Down and Up trail back. If we hadn't I think we would've done about 13.5 miles. It is really easy to get off the right path, I had to keep my app up and keep checking it at the turn-offs. Fun trail! Would never come in the summer, virtually no shade.

11 months ago

Great hike!

hiking
11 months ago

Very little shade 90% of the way. The lower valley trail is so much nicer than the new upper loop. It’s easy to get lost on the way back as it’s not clearly marked- you can follow the trail one way and turn it into a 15 mile hike instead of turning around and going back to the trailhead. There are some neat features like an abandon movie set and a nice picnic area where the American River is. We saw a lot of people rafting which was entertaining. River much too fast to swim anywhere near there.

hiking
Sunday, September 02, 2018

We parked at the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park. Free parking - Yaye! We did the whole 12mi hike - it was definitely an intermediate hike. We started at the West Ridge Trail and took West Ravine Trail on the way back (easier path). Beware: No shade!!! (We run out of water because it was just so hot today -9/1/18. I should’ve brought more water.) We was a lot of horse poop and a baby snake. The West Ridge Trail leads you to the river where you can see Satan’s Cesspool. There’s no shade there too so it was difficult for my group to eat together. Overall, it’s a decent hike. I think this is a great trail for spring time.

hiking
Saturday, July 28, 2018

Really enjoyed this hike. Lots of variations in terrain and options for trails. A beautiful breeze coming off the river almost the whole hike. It gets really hot and a lot of the trail is not shaded - so even if you get an early start it is probably better for a fall/winter hike. Bring plenty of water. Lots of poison oak in parts. Trail is also used by horses and mountain bikers so you need to be on the lookout.

mountain biking
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I’d definitely do this trail again. I’m a novice at mountain biking so some of the climbs were difficult for me - ended up hiking up some climbs. I’d definitely go back! Maybe during rattlesnake hibernation season.

hiking
Monday, April 30, 2018

Excellent spring hike. The trail end at the river is a great place to picnic and recharge. Very clean, hikers were of all ages: dogs and horses too!!

hiking
Saturday, April 28, 2018

Great network of trails out here! I could spend a whole weekend just buzzing to and fro. I noticed a connecting trail that will take you to Folsom Lake... very excited to try that out soon!

hiking
Friday, April 13, 2018

Nice trail, hit it early! Gets pretty hot in the afternoon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Best place to hike in winter, spring and fall. Too hot in summer

Monday, February 05, 2018

done this hike often with dog. great hike only issue is not a lot of shade so extreamly hot in summer.

hiking
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Great place for a family hike!

hiking
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fabulous trail. Beautiful varied terrain that ranges from flat meadow lands, to rolling hills, to a spectacular view. Grades are not too steep. A lovely hike for fall/winter/spring, but I imagine it would be very hot in the summer.

hiking
Saturday, December 02, 2017

Great day hike. Trails are well maintained and easy to follow. Lots of options to explore. A beautiful mixture of oak and pine forest, rolling foothills, and the American River.

hiking
Thursday, November 02, 2017

Great hike. Many trails to select from. Trails are well maintained. We took the Up and Down trail and ended up at the American River. Weather was perfect for hiking, but might think twice if the temps were over 85..not many trees to protect from sun.

hiking
Sunday, July 30, 2017

Friday, July 07, 2017

My dad was able to do this trail a few years back and he has a very bad back. I have gone here many times and I have always loved hiking it.

hiking
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A very nice, leisurely hike past sheep, a old movie set, and down to the river. I'm glad it was overcast the day I went. You'll want a hat and carry drinking water as we get more into Summer.

hiking
Wednesday, May 03, 2017

So beautiful! Expansive views of rolling hills, very green right now because of the recent rain. There is some poison oak along the west ridge, which of course my dog ran straight into, but on the whole the trail was a delight, not too strenuous, and led us to a beautiful spot along the river. My husband, an Eagle Scout, said it was one of his favorite hikes of all time, because it was just so beautiful the whole way.

hiking
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

hiking
Saturday, January 28, 2017

Wide trail. Lots of horseback riders. Lots of up and downhill. My 12 yr old son and I went in January while it was cool outside and it was fine. I cannot imagine this hike during full sun, 65 degrees or warmer. Almost zero shade. Very open valley. The river is at about the halfway point. We did 4.44 mile loop.

hiking
Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Will return :)

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