Grouse Ridge Trail is a 10.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Soda Springs, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.
Directions from Nevada City: Travel east of Hwy. #20 for 19 miles and turn left onto Bowman Lake Road, which is four miles west of I-80 off State Hwy. #20. Travel north to the Graniteville Road, County Road #843, and bearing right. You will be following the road along Bowman Lake. After traveling 3.3 miles, turn right on Faucherie Lake Road and go 1.3 miles to the trailhead. The road is not recommended for low clearance vehicles.
Once you get past the 5 miles of rocky dirt road you will find that this area was worth the drive. Hiked the glacier ridge trail, to the round hill trail making Island Lake our final destination with stops at Milk, Round and Long lakes along the way. Mid-week hike meant we didn't encounter to many others on the trail.
Directions not accurate. When you turn on to Bowman Lake Road look for Grouse Ridge Look Out -- 6 mile dirt road/4 wheel drive to top. Or if you prefer you can take Bowman Lake Road to Sawmill Lake (note dirt with tight turns when you get 1/2 hr+ in) then go backwards. Since we couldn't figure out directions we parked at Lindsey Lake and hiked to Rock Lake and could have circled around but late in day. So opted to scout by car to find trail head at Grouse Ridge Look Out after our hike.
The road to the actual trailhead is a pretty aggressive dirt/super rocky road. Not recommended to attempt if you don't have the appropriate vehicle. The mileage that is marked on the trailhead/junctions is also not accurate at all (makes for 1/2 to upper rock lake when it's actually more like 1 mile, etc).
This trail leads you past Middle lake, Shotgun Lake, and finally to Sawmill lake. Along the way are several small lakes, streams, meadows, and nice canyon river with small waterfalls off Shotgun lake. The trail is a mixture of well marked to "follow the cairns". The section from the junction to Penner lake down to Sawmill lake is a mess of fallen trees, but if you take your time and follow the cairns you will find Sawmill lake ok. Sawmill is a dam lake, but it is a unique dam as the ocvverflow forms a natural style waterfall. Lots of places to camp and a few steep sections, but overall a kid and dog friendly hike.
Beautiful views! My 7 year old had no problem keeping up :)
We did about 14 miles from Sawmill lake to Grouse ridge. A two and a half drive from my home in Quincy.
I have done this hike several times with a youth organization I volunteer with. There are several lakes that you come across as well as many different camping grounds you can hike into. I would definitely suggest it to people to try. Just avoid the holiday weekends as it is very near Lake Tahoe and can get a bit busy.