Explore the most popular camping trails near Foresthill with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

7 days ago

The trail is in the worst shape it’s been in for 36 years with trees down and overgrowth, we had to “rock hop” along the river for some of it. It also had more fresh bear poop that I’ve seen and one of our group saw a mountain lion. It’s worth getting down there but be prepared to hurt.

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.

Tough trail in parts with steeper climbs and downed trees, but worth it for beautiful views of the American River.

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.

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.

4 months ago

graffiti covered rocks everywhere ruined the whole experience

7 months ago

Hard! 8 miles 1 way. plan on camping at upper hell hole when going here. be prepared for a lot of up and down stretches. we called them stairways to hell. when you reach the campground it becomes heaven. spent a week here. lake was way low but plenty of fun with the river. recommend boating to upper hell hole not hiking

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 .

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!

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.

10 months ago

This trail is very steep and long. NOT for the faint of heart. Its has some beautiful views and some cool mining equipment off the trail but is definitely difficult due to the grade of the trail. Would not recommend for beginners.

This was a tough trail, not many smooth spots. The views are amazing though, once you get to the lookouts.

Ling windy drive. Camped for 3 nights. Had alot of fun!

Monday, July 24, 2017

RATTLESNAKES!!!!! It was a strenuous hike both in and out, but definitely doable. We initially planned on hitting the primitive campgrounds, but bypassed those as we could see and hear boat campers at the lake. We hiked another mile or so passed the primitive campgrounds along the marked trail and found a beautiful spot to set up camp. We encountered a total of 5 rattlesnakes during our 2 day trip, 4 of those directly on the trail. Even though we were aware of the snakes in the area and we were constantly looking for them, they are very hard to see until you are nearly on top of them. Fortunately they moved along and we continued passed them. Bring water but there are several spots along the trail to filter water and the lake is accessible in 2 spots as well.

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.

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.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This trail is very steep, so be warned ahead of time. That being said, the stamp mill is cool to visit, and the river at the bottom is beautiful. We'll definitely be backpacking through here again!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Hiked this trail to try something new. I'm a pretty experience hiker but this trail was tough getting back to the trailhead. The whole way consisted of climbing uphill or down. There is a beautiful creek or River in the middle where you cross a bridge. The trail turns to the right after that and begins going uphill and around the cliff and back down ending at a smaller creek or River. The bake oven is on the left and wasn't too exciting, but was still fun to reach and explore. The trail changed quite a bit after the bridge with a few beautiful views off the right side. Saw a lot of lizards and a few banana slugs. The water felt great! Wasn't my favorite hike but I might revisit it again someday :) Was definitely a good workout!

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

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

I added this trail. As of mid-July 2015 it is pretty overgrown and just barely followable, a GPS is really helpful, but the trail route is not all that complicated - just follow the top of the ridge down and make a 90-degree left when it levels off. The hard part is finding that turn again on the way back up, it's easy to overshoot it. I didn't see any trace of the section that continues north to Walker Mine, which is what's shown on most topo maps and the AllTrails overlay. The meadow is fairly small but idyllic, with waist-high grass surrounded by ferns and huge trees. The stream leading out of it is at the bottom of a ~10ft deep, fern-filled trench that can be crossed on log bridges. There are some nice campsites if you are willing to put up with the mosquitoes.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I went on this as a beginner hike and it was difficult.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Friday, April 24, 2015

Foresthill Road is paved all the way to Sailor Flat Road, and then it turns into rough dirt. If you are in a car you would will likely need to park just off Foresthill and go from there. The turnoff can be hard to recognize without a GPS because it's road sign is knocked over in a ditch. Starting the trail from Foresthill Road it is 4.3 miles and 3060 vertical feet to the river - most of it on a very rough, steep 4WD road with a number of large fallen trees across it. Once at the "intersection" we found a shot-up notice board next to a shot-up trail sign that was on the ground, we made a left and walked down the even rougher 4WD road to Oak Flat where the trail technically begins, and where we found even more bullet-ridden signs (seriously guys).

The actual trail is in good shape, if also extremely steep. The whole first switchback is a nice exposure of Early Jurassic marine slate/shale where you can find lots of ammonite casts - mostly fragmentary, they look like spiral seashells about an inch across. They seem especially common around the first turn with the 'no motorcycles' sign, eroding out of the hillside there.
Do not take the fossils, as a) it's illegal, b) they aren't worth anything, and c) they will eventually end up in the trash.

Further down you will probably stumble upon the Trinidad Mine. The upper building is totally wrecked but if you go downhill you will find the large, two-story stamp mill building. And finally if you want to brave the 40-degree (hands-and-knees) incline down to Sailor Canyon creek you will find endless waterfalls and pools.

The river at the end of this trail is much like Mumford - mixed gravel and pools and shaded with trees. There is a nice campsite just around the corner in Sailor Canyon. As with Mumford it doesn't look like many people continue on the American River Trail here. We followed it two miles downriver to a campsite just upstream of Big Granite Creek across the river. The trail somehow goes up and over a huge rocky ridge there but we weren't able to find it. Between Sailor and this point the trail is followable but pretty overgrown and required endless climbing over large fallen trees, especially in the burned area around New York Canyon.
The trail is absolutely brutal if you do it from Foresthill Road but still worth it, just make it at least an overnight.

Monday, July 14, 2014

There is nothing easy about this trail. Be in good health if you are thinking about attempting this hike. We hiked the south trail and went past the end of the reservoir and camped past the first waterfall and pool. We checked out Kada Falls the next day which was even still further. As far as the trail is concerned, it is difficult. The only easy part is crossing the dam. The trail has steep climbs and is overgrown, parts of which have to be crossed by climbing over fallen trees. We lost the trail for a bit but reconnected further up. We had solitude as no one was out there over the weekend not even off roaders. And the effort was more than worth it. The waterfalls past the reservoir are awesome! Pack light and bring mosquito spray because they are deadly. DON'T forget water! Going down to the reservoir to get water is not an option while on the trail Even on the way back we lost the trail right before the dam and had to back track. The reservoir is not pretty and the trail is tough but the payoff for camping in a location like this is priceless. Will post photos soon.

Monday, June 09, 2014

This trail is better by boat. That is to say, take a canoe or flat water kayak and explore the shores of the lake. Hell Hole is one of the few reservoirs that qualifies as beautiful, particularly when filled to close to the reservoir maximum pool elevation. This reservoir is also located so far from Sacramento that the typical reservoir crowd is not inclined to travel here. Beautiful lakes and solitude are a rare combination in California, so if you are looking for those things, this is the place. But be prepared for the long drive, and don't get caught in the afternoon winds that can make life miserable if you are in a small boat.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

A hell of a hole to get out of. This trail is very strenuous. There are tons of beautiful views and the campground at the end of the trail is fantastic. Plenty of natural water sources along the trail. Several places along the trail it was tough to know which way to go but keep an eye out for trail tape and rock cairns. I can't imagine taking this trail on a year with a lot of snowmelt...in this dry year there was some rough water crossings.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Drew said is still true. The trail is overgrown in some areas, there are plenty of cairns but some of them seem random. There are a number of areas where run off crosses the trail. Make sure you have waterproof boots. Those run offs get deeper and faster as the sun climbs.
I only made it about a 3rd of the way around. If you go with a dog you may not be able to get them past some of the water. Others you might need to carry them over.
Tough climb on a barely there trail. Still a lot of fun and will return but without my dog.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If you are like me, then you saw the name of this trail and wondered what, exactly, a Bake Oven is. Maybe you searched the internet and saw some other sites which said it was a REAL Bake Oven. This thing must be pretty special, you think, if it has it's own trail and people trek all the way out there to see it.

So yesterday we set out to unravel the mystery of the Bake Oven. Let me say that if you want to see this thing then you definitely have to earn it. According to my watch, from the trailhead to the end (one-way) it was 2560 feet cumulative descent, and 740 feet ascent, much of that is in short nigh-vertical sections on either side of the trail "summit" just after the footbridge, where it branches off from the Western States trail. After this point the whole trail is covered in deep leaves and is in many places eroded down to about 6 inches wide. This whole section is also partly exposed to the sun on this south-facing slope so I wouldn't even try it if it's more than like 75F out. We dayhiked it but maybe it would be better to spend the night there (packing very light) - there was one campsite on the river next to the Oven. The swimming might be OK, although it's mostly gravel bars and not much in the way of interesting granite stuff. There were a couple good views of the canyon, tons of lizards, probably a lot of rattlesnakes, but not much else.

As for the Bake Oven itself, it wasn't just an Easy Bake Oven™ someone had left out there like we thought it would be. It's just an unusually well preserved version of one of those stone miner's huts that has a stone fireplace-slash-Oven in it, see the picture.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Very difficult switchbacks down and back up. Elevation change of 2800ft. I've been going since I was 15. Definitely a 1-4 night overnight trip to enjoy the river and recover from blisters. There are beautiful waterfalls once you're hiking along the river, great jumping rocks, great places to set up camp.

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