Duchess Mine Trail [CLOSED]

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Vallecito, California

Duchess Mine Trail [CLOSED] is a 4.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Vallecito, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 4.1 miles Elevation Gain: 1,115 feet Route Type: Loop

dog friendly

hiking

mountain biking

lake

views

wild flowers

closed

no shade

Note: This trail is currently closed due to COVID-19. This is a loop trail with views of New Melones Reservoir and the surrounding area. The trail takes hikers past the remnants of the Duchess Mine, which operated during the gold rush era. It also takes hikers up onto a portion of Table Mountain, which is a 10 million year old lava flow that exhibits inverted topography - the lava formed in the paleochannel of the Stanislaus River, which is now the high spot on the landscape.

hiking
27 days ago

its a little bit of a challenge for beginners. the steep side of the mountain is faster and very rewarding. Cal-fire was out there doing training. over all a very Beautiful hike.

scramble
27 days ago

challenging hike, especially if you go up the hill. took about 40 minutes up, but our 8 and 11 year old kids made it. we didn't do the loop, hiked up the front and came back down after exploring the table top. this was not a moderate hike, especially if you don't hike often. It was almost straight up with loose rocks, some climbing parts. go early, and take extra water, this is not a hike to do in the summer.

hiking
bugs
no shade
30 days ago

Nice trail, but harder than moderate. The climb up the hill requires good shoes and lots of water. Wildflowers are great and view from top is worth the effort. Parking lot is roped off, but just park up the road across from the trailhead. Six other cars also there, but only saw one other hiker.

hiking
1 month ago

Parking lot is closed with 2 park rangers parked to ensure nobody drives around barricades or parks. across the street. When the trail opens back up, watch out for rattlesnakes and poison oak. Snakes are common as the weather gets above 70

no shade
scramble
1 month ago

Giving the trail 3 stars because I feel "moderate" is not an entirely accurate description. For myself yes Moderate...for another person say my wife it was be more intense as the elevation gain of 1100+' within 1st mile is quite a hike as we stayed left going in a clockwise pattern Once on top the views and numerous wild flowers were spectacular for the area and topography. Adding to our spring conditioning hikes. Missed a Rattlesnake by about a foot coming down...he was not happy and he let me know it. Easily over 2' long.

1 month ago

I took the easy side and only went half way around and walked back the way I came

hiking
1 month ago

Fun hike but it you do it on a warm day just remember to bring sun protection bc of little shade. Going up to the top on the east side of the trail definitely has some steep patches but totally doable. Just have fun and enjoy the awesome views!

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail. Highly recommend to follow recorded routes.

hiking
bugs
rocky
1 month ago

Must have hiking shoes on this trail . And bug spray

Great hike. Very steep if you go up the left side but I would recommend coming down it. Going around and down the other side we took a right at the big rock trailhead. Map says to go left but wanted to save some time. Lots of poison oak and watch for snakes.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful with wildflowers. Would not recommend in summer due to lack of tree coverage. Definitely more than moderate. More like moderate-strenuous (at lease for the clockwise uphill portion).

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

The trail is open! My 14-year-old and I just did it. Parking lot was open at the bridge (fits about ten cars) and just up the road. We've done many trails rated moderate- I would call this one on the tough end of moderate for sure. We went clockwise and it was straight up the mountain. On the way down the other side, it's a bit less steep but very rocky with lots of gravel that I frequently slipped on. Encountered only a few folks but all were friendly! Clocked in at 4 miles. Spectacular views! They really make this trek worth it.

1 month ago

is it still open?

hiking
1 month ago

Clockwise was a good choice. Beautiful flowers and lake views.

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

We hiked this trail Sunday 3/22. We started on the left side and went clockwise which we agreed was the best strategy. It was our first hike since September, and our 5 month old puppy’s 1st hike. She did great despite the incline and a few rocky sections of trail. There were tons of wildflowers, which added to the natural beauty of this trail. As we got higher we could see more of the reservoir and the view was the best from the top overlooking the water. Parts of the trail from the top going down were a little hard to navigate. Most of the path was pretty narrow and a few spots we found ourselves guessing which way we were supposed to go. Due to this we unknowingly cut about a mile from the hike. Part of the trail was a little gravely, and neither of us have true hiking shoes, so I recommend shoes with good traction. We still enjoyed the challenge of the incline, the fact that there were very few people out hiking that day, and the beautiful views no matter where we stood on the trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Went counter clock wise, pretty steep at first, took plenty of beaks while watching a guy run up it....the good thing is when it levels off the rest is level/down hill with a nice view of the lake. Dosent look like there is lake access from the trail. Which would be a nice reward during the summer!

2 months ago

Clockwise is the way to go. You want to get that steep incline out of the way first & enjoy the rest of the hike. I cut through the plateau to head down the hill sooner. There is not much up there. Overall is was a very beautiful hike visually from both sides & not too challenging

hiking
no shade
rocky
2 months ago

Good workout during the first hour going up clockwise. It feels as if you are climbing steps. The plateau is boring and by mistake took a shortcut on the way down so it wasn’t as long as it was supposed to be! Great views of the New Melones Lake! Ended up in Murphys doing some wine tasting, so it’s worth splitting the day between the hike and visiting the wineries.

hiking
3 months ago

Hiked clockwise to get the serious incline out of the way first. Great views from the top and an easy descent on the way back.

hiking
no shade
off trail
3 months ago

Very worth the hike! But, challenging AF. I've gotten turned around and walked extra on this trail more than once, but always a great time. Lots of wildlife and views of the lake! Small parking lot and no bathroom available. Not for beginners

mountain biking
3 months ago

I brought my bike and although the terrain at the bottom is ok for biking I wouldn’t recommend bringing your bike. I felt like I rock climbed 50 percent of the trail WITH my bike. Beautiful and I will come back as a hike.

hiking
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

Great hike, but if this is moderate I would wonder what their rating for hard is. We started on the left side and took the straight up first, but it was hard to follow the trail to get back down. When you’re on the plateau stay to your far right, the edge near the reservoir, to find your path down. Beautiful views worth the hike

hiking
no shade
rocky
3 months ago

This trail really should be marked Hard. I agree with the previous reviews to start on the left side of the trail. If you start on the left you will have a rapid incline. The terrain is a mixture of rock, and dry dirt. It can be very steep and slippery in areas. Just when you think you have made it to the top there is another hill! However, when you really get to the top you have a wonderful view! The top is great but short lived. As you descend it starts with some zig zags. But it’s steep in areas and a lot of dirt areas vs rocks. We used our trex sticks and there was still areas were we felt saver going down on our bums. The downhill trail seems like a washed out area but it is really the trail. Overall, it’s a nice trail, but would not recommend for children, hikers with health issues or beginners.

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