Browns Ravine Trail 2020-05

This backpack trip I chose the south shore of Folsom Reservoir instead of the north, which had been my last three trips.

I rode my bike through Folsom to Browns Ravine marina area, which is also one of the trailheads for the Browns Ravine Trail (it starts further west, but I didn’t do that section). Friday was the first day the marina had been open, and there were literally thousands of people entering to boat and just get to the water. Apparently El Dorado County has not heard of coronavirus – I saw no one wearing a mask, either in the Folsom Lake SRA or in the commercial areas that the roads pass through on my way there. Folsom is a little more sensitive, but Sacramento much more so. In El Dorado County, everyone is back to their pre-pandemic normal of driving everywhere all the time, to get coffee, to the grocery store, to get coffee, to the gas station, to get coffee, to buy something, to get coffee, to meet friends, to get coffee, to get to a mountain bike riding area, to get coffee… You get the idea.

Anyway, out on the trail, there were relatively few people. A downside about hiking these trails in the SRA is that often they are close enough to either the reservoir with it’s loud speedboats, or to the roads with their racing crotch rocket motorcycles. But in a few places both are far enough away, and the peace of nature comes through. One of my favorite environments in California is oak woodland, and when I got to open hillsides dotted with oaks, I was happy, and felt it had been worth it to come through El Dorado County to get there.

spreading blue oak tree

I hiked all the Browns Ravine Trail to its end at the Old Salmon Falls staging area, 17.5 miles on the mileposts, continued on a unnamed connector trail to the Sweetwater Trail, and along it to the Salmon Falls takeout. They walked the short distance on Salmon Fall Road to the bridge and the Skunk Hollow takeout, where the South Fork American River Trail starts.

I walked the South Fork trail up through the Pine Hill Preserve, with its rare plants though most were not blooming right now, and into the oak woodlands that run along above the river canyon. I went as far at Satan’s Cesspool trail, down to the river for some time sitting beside the rapids and watching some rafters and kayakers go though, then returned to the trail and headed back. The South Fork Trail goes through to Highway 49 between Pilot Hill and Coloma, which I did not realize. Either it didn’t before, or I just had failed to notice. So that will be a future trip.

I camped on broad hillside near the ‘potable water’ along the Browns Ravine Trail. This water source is for some sort of development that either never happened, or is no longer there, but there is a drinking fountain and horse trough. It is far off the main route, and probably not worth it for the water, but the view from the hill is better than any other along the trail. I had camped here before, 2016, though I didn’t remember that until I got there.

As predicted, it started raining during the night. I had my tarp and was dry and comfortable, but it was still raining lightly in the morning so I headed out and got very wet because I did not have rain gear. This is the result of my backpacking with only my day pack. I have lightweight and compact gear, but there is just a limit to how much I can take, and though I knew there would be rain, I decided that dry at night was more important than dry in the daytime.

And picked up my bike I’d stashed in the long grass, and rode back through Folsom and back home. By the time I got home, the sky was mostly clear and it was quite a bit warmer, though it had been a warm storm as storms go.

Mules Ears (Wyethia)

Photos on Flickr:

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