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





nature trips

trail running

dogs on leash

mountain biking

kid friendly


Pilot Hill, California Map

Signage could be better. From the parking lot, go left on the trail to do the loop that way if you are unfamiliar. it is easier to not take a wrong turn that way.

It has a few nice views, and for a stretch you can hear the river, which is nice. The trail never approaches the river, so don't count on that.

Well maintained, this loop trail has minimal elevation change, and you could do laps on it if you want.

Love going up the trail

I was very disappointed in this trail. It is not a moderate hike at all. I was unable to get my heart rate into fat burning range at all. This trail consisted I’ve touring every parking lot and boat ramp along the granite bay side of the lake. Not worth the $12 to park.

Very nice groomed trail, river is nice and able to swim in

Nice river access but a lot of the hike was long stretches of no shade. Cool old shack towards the half way point of the trail that was used in a movie.

2 months ago

Probably better for biking. There’s zero shade for a lot of it so make sure you go earlier. Still really liked this hike.

easy trail with river and stream access off of the loop

Went in late May. Much of the surrounding land was just dead weeds, very little shade, and you could drive a truck down most of the trail. In fact, many parts of the trail were really just a road. Sometimes poorly marked, needed to pull the map up at times to figure out where to go. Nice access to the river though. All in all, there's nicer places to go hiking!

The signs were quite confusing but otherwise a really great trail

This is a pretty easy trail, easy to follow, some brief incline/declines. We went in the mid afternoon, and was pretty hot, wear sunscreen. We saw a bunch of hawks, two deer, runner, a biker, some horses...and a long snake that was half way taking up the trail! Not sure what kind it was. I wish it was a little more challenging, for my ability, but did enjoy myself.

Nice cool day on this hike. Fairly easy with well maintained trails and signs. Lots of blue oaks. Was not super crowded and the sheep were fun to see. Would definitely do a longer trail on return.

3 months ago

Very beautiful. Many wildflowers and lots of greenery and lovely oak groves. The path starts out wide and then narrows. Be cautious for ticks and poison oak - the grasses are tall and it'd be hard to keep a dog away from them. There is some easy creek crossing over rocks and lots of shade up until you get to the south side (after the gate).

After the gate the trail changes dramatically. At the gate I went right towards skunk hollow which had a couple of nice views. Next time I go early I'll try going left towards Cronan Ranch (it was too hot by noon to be out in the full sun).

Not sure why this was rated as a hard trail, pretty level and easy hike and great swimming spot if you venture down to the river , however did not get 5 starts because two reasons. First it was very dusty my shoes were super dirty at the end mostly due to all the construction they have been doing on the road across and on the older buildings. I’ll definitely be back when they Finish the construction

3 months ago

We walked the short 2.6 mile loop in early May with a toddler, and a baby in a backpack. The trail is smooth and fairly level, great for little feet--a few rocks that tripped her up but nothing serious, and no scary drop-offs or dangerous cracks. Quite a bit of poison oak but hey, welcome to the foothills...! The trail is partially shaded, which made it wonderful in the Spring and probably tolerable in the summer, and there are several great places for a swim, and quite a few nice views along the route; there's even a toilet half way round, which is rather civilized!

The map only shows one loop, but there's an outer loop that runs closer to the river. To find it, turn left instead of right at the first fork in the trail (0.3 miles clockwise from the main Magnolia trailhead), it will take you down to a kayak put-in spot, and will join back up with the Gerle loop after a while.

3 months ago

Pretty and very well marked trail. Lots of flowers and green in the spring. There are also connecting trails so you can add more distance. I think it's a little more on the "easy" side.

This was a cool hike. Was kinda hot on the way out (started at 10:15am on April 21st), maybe because I only brought 1 bottle of water. We missed the trail to the ridge at the very beginning and bushwacked our way up the hill about a mile in. The view from the ridge was awesome! Totally worth the extra effort but I would recommend looking IMMEDIATELY to your right at the trail head entrance to get to the ridge. Was about 4 hours of hiking, very up and then down then up again. At the end I was jealous of the people I could see tubing down the American River. Mostly came across Mountain Bikers on the trail, like a dozen.

3 months ago

Fun super easy trail, free parking.

3 months ago

Great hike for all! Easy access and free parking.

4 months ago

Absolutely beautiful this time of year!

4 months ago

Great little hike to gauge your difficulty level. we started on the Gerle Loop but switch over to the other loop (Greenwood I believe?) which seems to mirror Gerle except it's down closer to the water and offers a variety of terrain which made it pretty interesting. we had a combination of trekkers with us, so it kept it interesting for those more comfortable while challenging the beginners a little more but not pushing too much at all. Great views of the river, pretty flowers and butterflies.. definitely will go back when wanting a nice easy trip. dog loved it also. Oh, and don't be thrown off when you pull in to the parking lot as it says Magnolia trail head.. you're at the right spot!

You need to pay 12$ per parking. Regular trail. Nothing special.

Great hike among open meadows. Perfect for sunny days in winter and early spring. Some incline, beautiful views of the hills, close to the American river. I highly recommend it.

This is an outstanding hike that is very un-trafficked. As the title of the hike lends, there is lots of opportunity for elevation gain and loss. But if you are looking for a Bluebird Day hike that offers views, solitude and even more views, this should be the first consideration. I’m so pumped to come back and take the river level trail.

Fantastic little trail. Big open spaces, rolling hills, river access, great spots for a picnic with a view. Definitely an easy trail for two adults who are relatively fit. Did it in about 1.5 hours with stopping and short picnic. Did this at the end of December, no mud, no blazing sun.

So pretty lots of bikers and horses but still good trail to hike

beautiful scenery, lots of ups and downs, views of the river and meadows are gorgeous

Nice trail. The camp ground is Closed for the season right now. Several connector trails which is nice. You can customize the distance easily.

5 months ago

Nice easy hike. Lots of dogs, many off leash wandering so just be aware. Would definitely come back!

Great hike, lots of up and down along the ridge part, though you can bypass a lot of it if you go down Cronan ranch road, like half our group did on the way out. There were a lot of trail runners and mountain bikers.

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