Duchess Mine Trail

MODERATE 67 reviews

Duchess Mine Trail is a 4.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Vallecito, California that features beautiful wild flowers 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
1115 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

hiking

mountain biking

views

wild flowers

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
1 month ago

Beautiful in the Spring time, wildflowers and awesome views of the lake below. Going clockwise was a really hard start due to the steeper incline, the backside of the path was much more gradual. Hikers preference. We had trouble trying to find the start of the backside trail again in the meadow at the top. If your starting clockwise, take the trail toward the left of the meadow all the way to the end (we had a beautiful picnic here), you'll see a fence and a little wooden bench with great views over either side of the hilltop. When you turn back, stay to the left and the trail will eventually go down the backside. The trails are overgrown in the spring, but it's easy to find your way back down the front side if need-be. Highly recommend.

1 month ago

The wildflowers and views are spectacular. We went up clockwise so the first mile was brutal. However, the rest is easy after that. It can be a bit slippery going down because of the sand, but I really enjoyed it and will be going back again.

hiking
1 month ago

Gorgeous wild flowers right now.

hiking
1 month ago

I recommend starting with the steep 1st mile. then Cruz down the mellower lake side

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful views! We took the trail clockwise, and went up the steepest part of the mountain first. The front side of the mountain was pretty hard.. but coming down the loop was easy and refreshing. The kids loved this hike! Keep your eye out for the secret shark and frogs.

3 months ago

Took the trail to the right, up the back side. Need to Watch for the Extreme Mountain Bikers. Today they were courteous and nice. Views from the top were awesome. Front side down was very steep and slick. I have to be honest and say my thighs sure are burning. I’m thinking it should be upgraded to a difficult hike. Wouldn’t recommend for children under 10. Or dogs. There sure is a lot of litter, it’s a shame. You pack it up please take it with you.

3 months ago

awesome views, beautiful flowers, hidden treasures and some crazy tagging! the switch backs were tough but I'm outta shape, so worth the view from the top!!

hiking
3 months ago

Great view at the top! This trail was a little bit harder than we were expecting but was still a great time!

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike, started on the steep side first and took it easy on the way down the back side. Great view from the top. Will be back with picnic stuff next time.

hiking
3 months ago

Great round trip

hiking
3 months ago

Fantastic! Was tough on my knees due to the steep terrain, but the reward on top was so worth it!!

4 months ago

It was a great trail! We went up the steep way to begin, then coasted on the down slope finish. We enjoyed it very much.

4 months ago

very good, challenging with a great view up top.

hiking
4 months ago

had good time with my boys, it was a good incline we had to rest few times, no shade amd it was hot, but it was such a great feeling when we made it to the top.

5 months ago

The parking lot is across the street from the trail head. We took the left bend to do the steep section up first. Really pretty vistas. A bit difficult to get down to the water if you want to go directly down to the shore. Lots of dog poo, be wary.

hiking
5 months ago

Nice trail- good views of the lake before the little climb up to the top. Next time I will absolutely follow P. McBride’s suggested route. I was def covered in stickers.

hiking
7 months ago

Great trail but definitely not for beginners or someone who doesn't want to get winded. I'd recommend taking the right side of the loop, it takes you around the right side of the mountain and up to the top. The left side of the loop is VERY steep. The view at the top is beautiful! There are multiple spots to see over the edge and get a great view. Sections of the trail are set up for mountain biking which thought was pretty cool. I'd recommend bringing lots of water and lunch and hang out for awhile. There's a surprise at the top too..

hiking
7 months ago

The map shown in this overview takes you through a very poorly maintained and overgrown route. A much nicer route exists as a left hand turnout as you hike the more gradual route along the river. Look for the big bike jump (has a wood frame and a picture tacked to it) and hike up toward that and then up toward the top. Another confusion section exists as you get close to the top. There is a big boulder with a climb to the top or you can go straight which takes you to the overgrown trail. It is tempting to go straight instead of up because Cal Fire cleared some of the brush for the first 1/4 mile but don't take the bait unless you want to be covered in stickers.

7 months ago

This was a great hike however it took me a while to find the TRAILHEAD. Note: for anyone else who is looking for it, from the parking lot travel north and it’s on the right side of the road. Another couple also asked me if I knew where it was so I know I wasn’t the only one confused. Otherwise it has great views.
Another word to people who hike here often, BRING POOP BAGS FOR YOUR DOGS PLEASE! There was entirely too much dog poop on the trail. :/

hiking
7 months ago

did this in March 17. beautiful trail and views, go clockwise onto the trail unless you love almost verticle climbs. we went down the steepest (and I do mean steep) area as the last stretch this way. Lovely meadow at the top....take your hammock and spend a bit of time up there. there are a few trees suitable you hammocks.

9 months ago

Beautiful views, but there's a lot of ducking under overgrown shrubbery. Pretty challenging

hiking
11 months ago

11 months ago

ended in an off trail but found my way back great workout if that what your looking for

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Gorgeous trail... Take the gradual section first (the right-hand trail along the lake) The climb is less of a killer than going up the 1,000ft. per mile. Take THAT one down. But if you exercising or preparing for Whitney do the reverse. Either way the meadow and fire jumper training spot at the top of the ridge is a relaxing place for lunch.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Nice

hiking
Sunday, April 09, 2017

Great hike. Went in mid spring and had plenty of wildflowers blooming. Trail was a bit over grown once you get to the top section, but still visible. Would definitely do again.

hiking
Saturday, April 08, 2017

Who pooped on the trail?

Monday, April 03, 2017

What a 'hidden-gem'! A moderate climb above the lake then attaining the beautiful grassy meadow of the Plateau. We took the easy route up, with the lake on our right. Helicopter landing and takeoff training was going on when we were there but didn't pose any problems...an added thill. The route down is steep, but has the most spectacular views of the highway, bridge and lake and ridges beyond. Entire trip can be done in reverse or one way up and down as you prefer.

hiking
Monday, March 27, 2017

Great hike. Took the right going up so i can enjoy the view going down. Great view overall! The elevation change going down is insane! I think i will try the left side next so ill have energy going up. Great moderate hike.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Stay to right along the water on the way up so you are facing the good views on the way down. First part along water is gradual and wide, good for mountain bikes. Trail is not marked at junctions, stay to right to do full 4 miles, left hand routes cut corners and make the loop 3 miles. Great winter trail, no cover, you will get cooked in the summer.

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