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Spicer Reservoir Trail is a 19.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Arnold, 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 September. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Length 19.2 mi Elevation gain 2,933 ft Route type Loop

Dog friendly

Backpacking

Camping

Hiking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Forest

Lake

Views

Wild flowers

Waypoints (0)
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (14)
Photos (10)
Recordings (8)
Completed (17)
Peter Ryser
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 26, 2020
BackpackingGreat!Off trailOver grownScramble

We've completed this trail as a two night backpacking trip. We decided to hike it clockwise starting at the small parking lot across the street from the campground and boat ramp. From there we headed across the boat ramp area and then up the dirt road towards Summit lake. Since it was a Sunday there were a few cars going forth and back on that dirt road and the dust was a bit of a bother but it wasn't too bad. The start of the Summit lake trailhead is marked by a wooden sign near the parking lot at Summit lake. With cars parked there it could be easily missed, so, watch out for it. Interestingly, somebody spray-painted "Don't go" on the back of that sign. I could not agree less. The trail east along the north-side of the reservoir is easy to navigate. There are a few trees across the trail that need to be walked around or stepped over. As previous reviewers mentioned, once the reservoir is visible again, the trail is further up the slope than on the map(s) but it cannot be missed when coming from the west. We found a great camp site at the north-east side of the reservoir on top of a cliff with a beautiful view west over the reservoir. The water was refreshing and perfect for a swim. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm was moving in and got us a couple of hours of off-and-on rain but it eventually cleared up early in the evening. After looping around the east-side of the reservoir we lost the trail for the first time and it took us quite a while until we found it again. In retrospect we were following the reservoir too closely and the trail is further up the hill. There are a lot of fallen trees and dead wood on the south side of the reservoir which led to off-trail scrambling. We got back on the trail west on the All Trail map where the trail is shown going "through" the reservoir bay near the peninsula with the 1.7 mile distance marker. Once back on the trail it was easy enough to follow past Sword lake to the Spicer Wheats trail turn-off. Originally, we had planned to stay at Sword lake for the second night but then decided to hike a bit longer to shorten the third day by a few miles. The Spicer Wheats trail seems to be far less traveled and we soon were off-trail again. It goes through older and newer burn areas with lots of fallen trees. A kind soul marked the trail with yellow and red plastic ribbons but in some places they are far enough apart to miss them. Eventually, we missed the turn-off towards Wheats Meadows and hiked down Dardanelles creek for about a mile before we noticed. We decided to camp off the creek for the second night. In the morning of the third day we started our involuntary cross-country adventure. We were off-trail most of the time from Dardanelles creek to Wheats Meadows and then again from Wheats Meadows to the pass leading back to the reservoir. Along the way we decided to head down to Twin Meadows before climbing back up to the pass through what we called the Christmas Tree farm and Brush Hill (you will know what I mean when you'll see it). Another kind soul marked the trail north from the pass back to the reservoir with yellow "Wet Paint" plastic ribbons. They are plentiful and thus it was easy to follow the trail. The final stretch of the trail hiking west towards the dam seems well-traveled. We dropped our packs in the parking lot below the dam. While somebody went to get the car, the rest of us refreshed ourselves in the ice-cold creek coming from the reservoir. Water: there are a number of creeks and small lakes on the south side of the reservoir. So, no problem to refill water bottles. On the north side there are fewer opportunities, so, refill when you can. Flora: we saw many beautiful flowers along the trails near the creeks and in the various meadows. There are also large patches of blueberries but they are not ripe yet. Fauna: apart from the smaller critters we saw a couple of owls, some geese, cows including cow bells, plenty of woodpeckers, and a deer. Along the Spicer Wheats trail we noticed some fresh bear scat. Bugs: there were almost no bugs where we stayed for the first night at the north-east end of the reservoir. We encountered more mosquitoes on the third day when we were hiking through the meadows. Overall, it was not too bad. Solitude: after getting onto the trail at Summit lake and before exiting at Spicer dam, we met exactly one hiker on the trail in three days. This seems to be a good place to be at for some peace and quiet. GPS: it's good to have GPS on parts of this trail, specifically on the Spicer Wheats trail. I had planned the trip creating my own All Trails map. Even as a non-pro user this came in handy as it is possible to see the planned route and the actual location on the phone without having downloaded the actual map. I probably would have had to fall back on map and compass to find our way without GPS. We really enjoyed this trail, the landscape, the views, the solitude, and the opportunities to...

Kelly Leonard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 3, 2020
BackpackingBugsOff trailOver grown

This trail is very challenging to follow and we relied heavily on GPS, a lot of bush-wacking, climbed over a lot of fallen trees and still spent a lot of time looking for the trail. That being said, the trail and reservoir are beautiful and made for a great 2 night backpacking trip. We parked at the base of the Spicer Meadow Reservoir Dam and from the dam to Wheat’s Meadow the trail is partially marked by yellow streamers and we used GPS. From Wheat’s Meadow to the tee to Sword Lake the “Pack trail” running east west is easy to follow. The trail to sword lake is through a burn area and the trail is almost nonexistent. From Sword Lake to the east end of Spicer the trail is easy to follow. At the east end of Spicer we lost the trail with all the river crossings and struggled to find it again (the trail along the North East section of the reservoir runs along a much higher elevation than we expected). Once we found the trail again it is easy to follow all the way to Summit Lake (but still expect a lot of fallen trees). From Summit Lake back to the main road is a well trafficked dirt road. Water was plentiful throughout the loop and we enjoyed swimming in Sword Lake and Summit Lake. Mosquitos were also plentiful so bug spray is a must. The trail is beautiful and even over 4th of July we felt like we had the place to ourselves.

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Brad Garsten
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 28, 2020
HikingBlowdownOff trailOver grownScramble

This is an amazing hike- our biggest challenge was only 60% of the trail was marked due to past fire(s). Lost trail several times- We hiked counter clockwise from Sword lake and start and end of our hike had very few markers (stacked rocks and some ribbons). Beware and bring a GPS device to navigate plus supplies for a long day.

Timothy Johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 26, 2020
HikingBugsOver grown
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Timothy Johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 30, 2019
HikingOver grown
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Primo .
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 6, 2019
HikingBlowdownMuddyOff trailOver grownScrambleSnowWashed out
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Satnam Singh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 30, 2018
Hiking

We did the first 3.8 miles of this hike this weekend (and then branched off at Wheats Meddow along the "pack trail" towards Montgmery Meadow). It was very hard work going over many fallen trees and densely overgrown hard to follow trails (occasional streamers). GPS and map essential! It is beautiful, as all the others reviewers point out.

Chris Spaghetti
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 27, 2018
Backpacking

I have done this loop a few times when backpacking. I love it. Fun trails and a beautiful area. Never many people out if any. And I find it funny to read the other reviews that complain about the part of the trail (moving east from the damn south side of reservoir) that has absolutely not been maintained in years. That was my favorite part. Don’t get me wrong. You will be climbing over fallen trees and walking throw tall grass and baby pine trees for quite a while. It’s hard work. You will also have to use a map or GPS to figure out where you are going. But all said and done, that part was a blast if you are willing to work for it.

Cecilie Jean
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 17, 2017
Backpacking

We were headed to Sword Lake and starting from the dam. The fist mile of this hike is great, moderate incline, heavily forested, great views. However, once you hit the reservoir the trail becomes harder and harder to follow. Luckily we had service and ended up needing to pull out our phones to find the way. The trail is completely overgrown and impassable at parts. It took us four hours to go about 3.2 miles because of how overgrown the trail was. We ended up having to turn around and go back to the reservoir to camp. Bring a machete or a weed hacker if you plan on doing the loop!

s b
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 30, 2017
Backpacking
First to Review

There is a significant piece of this trail which is overgrown and hard to navigate between the dam and the Cow Camp. Hikers beware! Other than that, this is pure awesomeness. Just be prepared to fight brush for several miles if going from the Dam to Sword Lake, for example. My GPS said we hiked 17 miles, and it took 12 hours!

Tom Rehmann
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 29, 2020
Hiking
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Michel Larkey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJanuary 4, 2020
Hiking
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Sophie Lautent
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 2, 2019
Hiking
Primo .
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 6, 2019
Hiking
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