Spaulding Lake Trail

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Tahoe National Forest

Spaulding Lake Trail is a 8.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Nevada City, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from May until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 8.7 miles Elevation Gain: 1,184 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

hiking

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

over grown

The beginning of the trail follows an old washed out roadbed for a quarter mile before climbing a series of switchbacks. The trail is mostly under deep tree cover along rocky ground. There is a significant climb of approximately 700 feet to the edge of lake Spaulding. In the spring there are substantial wet areas and small streams to ford. About 3 miles in you will need to cross under a large pipeline (penstock). Follow the pipline up the hill approximately 150 feet before continuing on eastward to the lake overlook. Alternately, follow the pipe line south to a small foot bridge that takes you to the overlook near PG& E's small hydeo-electric power plant. Return by the same route.

hiking
bugs
rocky
4 days ago

Great hike 5/25. A few small patches of poison oak, but easy to avoid. Snow is all melted now. Great views of Lake Spalding!

hiking
bugs
5 days ago

hiking
7 days ago

Great trail once you work your way down the dirt road and under the pipes. From there, the trail is wonderful for humans with lots of shade /lake views and perfect for our dog with streams and dirt surfaces. We walked out about 3 miles, had a nice lunch overlooking the flowing river and lake and headed back. Early is better-we saw few people going out in morning but many more coming back. Ps- we saw no rattlesnakes.

hiking
bugs
muddy
rocky
14 days ago

hiking
15 days ago

Diverse moderate dog friendly trail with water, doesn’t get much better!

hiking
20 days ago

this is a really great trail. you can go as far you want, then turn back. we started at fuller lake, followed the aqueduct for a bit, then crossed the stream at the flumes and picked up the main trail from there. it was warm today and the snow is gone except for a patch or two in the shade. saw a few people on the trail, but we had the lake shore to ourselves. beautiful views! be sure to bring plenty of water to drink, its a warm trail, there is shade about half the time.

hiking
21 days ago

Hiked this trail today and enjoyed it. Just a heads up though- there are a lot of rattlesnakes out right now! I was warned as I was heading back from the lake that some people had just seen one on the trail . When I was walking out along the dirt road back to my car parked on Bowman Lake Road I came within inches of stepping on one! Not trying to scare anyone but please be aware.

hiking
22 days ago

First AllTrails hike. Rule 1–turn the volume of you phone on high Rule 2 don’t ignore the dings thinking that the office is trying to get a hold of you. That being said....there are two major detours. One we missed and one we almost missed but thanks to trail veterans we were pointed the right direction. Detour 1 a road type barricade takes you to a short detour. You’ll come to a T....go LEFT. Crossing under pipes...turn LEFT on boardwalk and the trail is on the right halfway up the hill. Our extended backtrack left us short of our goal, so we camped at the waterfall at mile 2.8. Hidden gem w/ spring runoff.

hiking
rocky
snow
1 month ago

Beautiful little trail. Not too difficult, but did have some decent hills and rocky parts. Loved the waterfalls, streams, and view of the lake. I’ll definitely go back.

hiking
flooded
muddy
snow
1 month ago

hard to find the trail in the snow and then when the snow stopped also because it all looked the same. use your map. on the way out it got busy and saw at least 15 or more people coming in. people were already backpacking and camping in the back woods. snow is slushy and slippery cause its melting. otherwise cool trail.

hiking
muddy
snow
1 month ago

There are a lot of cars parked on the way up to this hike. It was a lot more secluded than I thought it would be. Got on the trail around 9 am on a Saturday. Didn’t hike the whole thing. Just to the lake and back. I saw maybe 4 other groups and a few people with dogs off leash. Trail is poorly marked. You need waterproof boots. There is snow on the ground but only for a small part of the hike. You don’t need crampons but they are helpful.

hiking
flooded
icy
muddy
snow
1 month ago

Beautiful area! There was still snow on the ground in many places, but it was manageable. At this time of year, the trail is basically a very shallow creek, due to the snowmelt, so definitely wear waterproof shoes if you are going anytime soon! The trail was also pretty hard to follow, which was probably partially due to the snow and water covering parts of the trail, but also by the all the unmarked trails branching off the main trail. We got lost at one point, because we took a wrong turn, and ended up going about a mile or two off the main trail, so I definitely recommend looking at your map anytime there is a fork in the trail, because the trail is not well-marked in all places! All in all, it was a beautiful trail with lots of trees, waterfalls, and a beautiful view of Spaulding Lake. If you want to avoid the snow, mud, and water, I would suggest going sometime in the summer, once things dry up a little, but I thought it was well worth it the way it was (:

hiking
3 months ago

Great hike. Almost zero snow on the trail. Bring your GPS since the trail is hard to find in some spots.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
snow
3 months ago

Little bit icy but a great view. the lake is nothing to write home about. Parts could use microspikes

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail, switchbacks and rocky at times. There is no snow on the trail anywhere right now(2/15/20). A little muddy in a few short spots but overall in good shape for a nice hike. You do have to go under the water pipes twice to get to the lake area. (Seemed odd to us so thought sharing might help others know where to go at times).

off trail
snow
4 months ago

Hiked the trail yesturday with a Husky and friend. We had snow shoes, but did not need to use them (wore winter gotex boots). There are a couple of spots where the snow drifted and was deeper, but those spots were less than 30 yards in length. The deepest points we ran into we're about 2 and 1/2 ft deep. The trail becomes difficult to follow after you get about three miles in, slow down, look for cut trees and follow the creek and go east. There were a few times where we had to go back track, using the creek and the app to find a way back to the trail. We ended up hiking close to 12 miles. If you decide to do this trail in the snow, please be careful of your footing in the deep snow around the boulders and bring a friend. The views make it all worth it.

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