Western States Trail: Michigan Bluff Trail to Last Chance Trail is a 18.5 mile out and back trail located near Foresthill, California that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and horses and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
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.
We backpacked from Michigan Bluff to Deadwood which was ended up being about six to seven miles. The first half of the trail is pretty much all downhill followed by all uphill for the second half. I found the elevation gains challenging but fun. At Deadwood we dropped our gear, setup camp and then hiked to Swinging Bridge packless. The trail from Deadwood to Devil's thumb is a much less aggressive uphill and a nice hike; however from Devil's Thumb down to Swinging Bridge the trail needs a little attention. There were many downed trees and other debris that made the trail a challenge, and I'm not sure if I would recommend attempting with a pack.
In summary the trail may not have Half Domeesque views, but it is some beautiful country. One note, we packed in on a Friday and only encountered Forestry Service guys and a couple of day hikers, but on the hike out Saturday we ran into 15-20 day hikers/trail runners and this was when it was snowing and in the 30's, which leads me to believe this trail would be mighty busy under better weather conditions.
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.
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.
Excellent area for hiking, so many trails connect so shorter or longer as you wish.
A lot of subaru driving, granola eaters hke this trail. If you drive a diesel be prepared to be bitched at.