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Western States Trail: Michigan Bluff to Last Chance [CLOSED]

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Tahoe National Forest

Western States Trail: Michigan Bluff to Last Chance [CLOSED] is a 18.4 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Foresthill, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length 18.4 mi Elevation gain 7,746 ft Route type Out & Back
Dogs on leash Backpacking Camping Hiking Horseback riding Mountain biking Bike touring Bird watching Running Forest Views Wildlife Closed
Description
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

As of September 2020, trails in this area are closed due to wildfire. See park page for more information. This rugged trail to a remote crossing of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River traverses some of the wildest "foothill" country of the Gold Country - a region previously well settled with mining settlements. Campfire permit required if using a stove or campfire. Avoid this trail the last weekend of June due to Annual Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and the Tevis Cup long-distance horseback trail ride, held in late July or early August.

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

Directions from I-80: Take the Foresthill exit, and proceed on Foresthill Road for 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue on approximately 5 miles to Baker Ranch and make a right on Michigan Bluff Road. Continue on to the town of Michigan Bluff. The trailhead is located 1/4 miles east of town.

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Reviews (37)
Photos (42)
Recordings (24)
Completed (66)
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Sajan Singh
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 12, 2020
Hiking

In terms of difficulty, this gets 5 stars, in terms of views, maybe 2 stars until you hit the river. This hike is not for the faint of heart if you do the whole thing. Bring a water filter and 6 liters minimum. Also carry an enormous amount of food.

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Jessica Cosio
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 11, 2020
HikingBugs

The trail was pleasant. The way out is mostly downhill making the way back a little more strenuous. We stopped at el dorado canyon, about 2 miles from the start at Michigan bluff town. Just before the bridge you can find a primitive campsite, but you will definitely have mosquitos, so be prepared. Smoke helped, but should be wary of the fire hazards- there was no wind but some dry brush. We also found a tick, so be wary. Beware of the old man and his chihuahua dog in Michigan bluff who assume you are up to no good, and do not want you to use the designated parking area at the trailhead. We had someone wait with our stuff at the trailhead while I moved my car and parked down the street.

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Kyle Weinberger
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 25, 2020
Hiking

Brush and Fallen trees are cleaned up. Trail is challenging but rewarding. Took about 10hrs to complete

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Gloria Lee
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 24, 2020
HikingBugsOver grown

We only did an out-and-back to the first bridge, which is about 2.5 miles out. Having a dog on leash the whole time was challenging because it’s all downhill to the bridge and there isn’t enough space to be side-by-side; I wouldn’t bring them again. It’s much easier to run down to the bridge. The hike up was a good challenge, and you’ll have shade for almost all of the way back to the trailhead. We took a break at the bridge by the water. Beautiful creek. We were also awarded with some views of the canyon, but the trail is mostly shady and blocked the views from us. Cons: Millions of mosquitos. We tried to not take breaks because they’d immediately attack us. I also got my first tick bite from this trail, so be sure to check yourself afterward. There’s a ton of overgrowth, including of poison oak.

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Kevin Patrick
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 13, 2020
Hiking

Challenging trail but as of early May 2020 lots of down trees and debris. Easily to follow as the trail is well marked. Steep down and ups. Love the interpretive panels telling history. Lots of water running through. Took us all day

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Gregory Obranovich
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 21, 2020
Hiking

Currently the trail is hopelessly overcome by fallen trees and manzanita. Frequently crawling on hands and knees, picked up 4 ticks. Turned around after about 1 mile.

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Dee Kay
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 29, 2019
Hiking

A beautiful trail. We hiked only first portion of the trail ~10 miles in total. The trail is mostly shaded and few spots where you can view the scenery and it's amazing. There was fog settling in the hills and those views were incredible. Only downside was that the trail is also used by dirt bikes/ATV's. Dirt bikes passed us a couple of times adding smoke and dust to our hike. It takes 5-10 minutes before you stop smelling smoke in air but we were able to re-align to beautiful and serene nature quickly. Would recommend this hike.

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Andrey Rybikov
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 13, 2019
Hiking

No issue with parking. I parked on the corner of Michigan bluff and school street. I hiked 6 miles in and decided to turn back. 12 miles totals in 6 hours. A lot of downhill and the river was very nice. The views are not the greatest but I did it just for the challenge. If you are looking for greats views, there are better hikes.

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Melissa Johnstone
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 30, 2018
Hiking

Did about 10 miles of this trail this past weekend. Nice trail, lots of shade. Got a good workout from the long descent (about 2.5 miles) which bottoms out at the river (bridge) then did another 2.5 miles ascending away from the river before we turned back as it started getting warm. Only downside was the mosquitoes which were out in full force especially in the shade. We used a lot of deet and picaridin, but it wasn’t enough to keep them away. Would advise anyone to cover well and maybe use those weird hats with veil/netting I see some hikers wear if you don’t want mosquitoes constantly in your face and eyes and biting. Overall nice trail, would do it again.

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Greg Ford
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 13, 2018
Backpacking

Went on an overnight out and back backpacking trip, camping about 7 miles in, near a creek crossing on Deadwood Ridge. The trail was definitely challenging but had no other redeeming qualities, other than a nice creek to rest at early on the trail. The trail is well shaded, but because of that there are few opportunities for good views. The trail was well graded and appreciated at first, but I found it to be monotonous after crossing El Dorado Creek, relentlessly marching up the side of the mountain. In addition, the trail going up towards the ridge was very narrow. There were few places to take a break. On the ridge, there were few good places to camp. I would not recommend the place I camped (creek crossing along ridge), I was running out of daylight. If I had more time I would have backed up a half mile and camped at the water pump. If you want to camp closer to the trailhead, there is at least one good spot (probably more) along El Dorado Creek. I did not encounter any bears on my trip. That was a good thing because I forgot to put all my food in the bear canister. The food was not touched. Some folks have mentioned parking issues but I had no problems parking at the end of the pavement, about 0.2 mile before the trailhead. This trail is best for trail runners. Lots of elevation change and consistent grades. If I was trail running I would rate it 4 stars. I would not recommend for backpacking except as an early season shake-out.

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Hillary Miller
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 10, 2018
Backpacking

This listing is pretty mislabeled. This is a part of the Western States Trail and this portion should be labeled Michigan Bluff to Last Chance. Since you are going in and out of 2 canyons I would also label as Hard. Especially if you're backpacking and have a pretty heavy pack. Here are some things we learned: There is no parking next to the trail head. We parked next to the old cemetery and the Michigan Bluff monument. We left our car for 3 days and it seemed fine. We talked to some locals when we got back to our car. They thought we were just going out and let us know about several locals recently losing dogs to mountain lions. BRING BEAR SPRAY. It is also a good idea to have a bear bell and make plenty of noise on the trial. We saw a lot of trail runners out so the trail is well traveled. You will also do a lot of stream crossing depending on how much it has rained recently and how much snow is still melting. Trail breakdown: 2.5 miles in is entirely downhill and takes you to the first bridge and river. Almost 6 miles from the trail head and just before Deadwood Cemetery you will find a decent place to camp. For an even better place to camp and a little more walking, head on to an established spot between Deadwood and Devil's Thumb. There is a great area with a picnic bench and water pump with potable water (if we had gotten an earlier start on day one we would have camped here). Ditch your pack at the water pump to lighten your load and make your way to Devil's Thumb. A closer look shows that it is not one big rock but many rocks. Head down the canyon from Devil's Thumb to get to the swinging bridge. Lots of switchbacks but the pay off is worth it. What we did: Day one: hiked in and camped right before Deadwood. Day two: packed up and ditched packs at Deadwood. Made way to water pump and filled up. Hiked all the way down to the swinging bridge and had lunch. Made our way out of the canyon back to our belongings. We then hiked down to Eldorado Canyon (aka 2.5 miles from trail head) and made our camp near river in an established spot. Day three: hiked out. Things I wish I had known: -how steep the trail was -the amount of mountain lion and bear activity in the area -how bad the ticks are -the different points of entry for the trail and the relative location of established camping spots ----------------------- I know this review is long, but I'm hoping it helps someone who is looking at this trail.

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Roger Burruss
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarDecember 3, 2017

The directions take you to someone’s drive way lol . They was not very happy to see me . Run this trail in reverse and do not try to park at Michigan Bluff .

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ila uronen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 7, 2017
Hiking

I only went in about 3.5 and then headed back up the mountain cause I didn't want to be out there in the dark but still a great hike! Beautiful views, will have to go and do the entire thing!

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Sloane Viola
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 11, 2017
Hiking

I accidentally drove down the gravel road in search of the trailhead (blindly following my phone's directions), and one of the homeowners along the road was not happy with me. Back at the end of the paved road, there were a lot of "no parking" signs, so finding a spot can be confusing. The trail is challenging, but you can make it as long or short as you want. As I increased elevation, I got swarmed by bugs, which was rather unpleasant. I only saw two people in the five hours I was out there.

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Desiree Porzio
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 3, 2017
Backpacking

My husband, the dog, and I hiked this trail planning to make it all the way to swinging Bridge and camp. We made it to El Dorado Canyon and decided that was good enough. The good: no one out there, easy to find, lots of free parking at trailhead, firewood abound, and a couple creeks to access water. The bad: tons of mosquitos and the elevation changes. The uphill climb out of there left us pretty damn sore.

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Thebackpacker 1
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarApril 2, 2017

Trail was strenuous at best. (2,000 ft elevation gain in 2 miles). In total, there was about 2 scenic views. I don't recommend this trail to anyone who does not run 10 miles a week. It took 6 hours to do about 7 miles. I would not recommend this trail to anyone who is looking for a fun, scenic trip. Next time I'll do something in Tahoe.

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Maia V
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarNovember 11, 2016
Hiking

It's a beautiful place and easy to get to with any kind of car. You park on the paved road Michigan Bluff and the walk up the bottom of the gravel road that goes past houses and leads you to the start of the trail.Took this trail because it seemed to the much more lightly trafficked than the other trails that are also close to the Sacramento area in these woods. The other trail heads I passed by while driving up there had a good amount of cars parked considering it was a Thursday afternoon. I don't think I've ever seen so many manzanitas so big and all grouped together. That was really cool. The forest looks healthy and you probably won't see anyone. Could hear some pretty big wildlife walking around. There were a couple of scenic views. Nice but not epic. The trail starts off down hill and you keep going down for a long time so plan to give enough time to walk back up. I didn't go but a couple miles in and back as my dog ended having a problem with her leg and I had to carry her back. The trail is a good definition of moderate. Not too easy, not too strenuous but still a workout. Although it was pretty the lack of variety in scenery makes me more likely to find a different trail to try the next time I'm in the Tahoe national mountains.

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Steve Williams
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 23, 2016
Hiking

Excellent area for hiking, so many trails connect so shorter or longer as you wish.

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DC NONE
Yellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJune 25, 2013
First to Review

A lot of subaru driving, granola eaters hke this trail. If you drive a diesel be prepared to be bitched at.

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Jon Mullins
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Hiking
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Carlos Murillo
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Hiking
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Kuni Yamagata
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Kuni Yamagata
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John Rains
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Hiking
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Vadim Voloshin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 21, 2019
Hiking
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Sumaia Radwan
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Hiking
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Tim Tomlin
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Hiking
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Tim Tomlin
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Hiking
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Clint Leon
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Hiking
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