Mokelumne Wilderness 2018-07

Steffani & Phoebe Mokelumne CanyonBack to the Mokelumne Wilderness for the first time in four years. The first day I day hiked with friend Steffani to Granite Lake (the one on Grouse Lake trail, not the one near Silver Lake), as we have done several times. We hung out at the lake while Phoebe played fishing in the lake, then walked our another mile to what is probably the most spectacular, reasonably accessible, view of the Mokelumne River Canyon. And then I continued on my way in the afternoon.

I walked the Evergreen trail to the Summit City Creek trail, and camped near Horse Canyon trail. I ran into wilderness/trails person Chip out of Amador Ranger District, who was in with a Generation Green trail crew working on the 4th of July trail. We talked a while about trail conditions and needs. Next day I walked down Summit City Creek trail to the Mokelumne River. (Note: I refer to the North Fork of the Mokelumne River as just the Mokelumne River since the South Fork and Middle Forks are minor tributaries.) This trip took me an entire day the last time I did it in 2007, but just a few hours this time since it has been brushed out. The trail is a little vague where it crosses Summit City Creek at the bottom, then clear for a ways on the forested benches above the Mokelumne River. It disappears, however, in the denser forest, and it is hard to find the place where it climbs steeply to meet the Munson Meadow Trail above Camp Irene.

I went up the Munson Meadow Trail, and got lost in the main brush field. Where the trail seems to end, there is a switchback left down below, not obvious since it is brushed in. The entire trail from the junction up through the wet area above the brush field is a mess, not pleasant to walk. Avoiding the mosquitoes at Munson Meadow, I walked on north to Cole Creek Lakes (mis-named, they actually drain east to the Mokelumne and not west to Cole Creek), and camped on the granite bench looking west towards the coast and the lights of the valley.

Next day out to Horsethief Spring, and then up along the Squaw Ridge trail which is a pioneer wagon route that has been torn to shreds by dirt bikes, back into the wilderness at Horse Camp trail, up Summit City Creek trail to Forestdale Divide on the PCT, for a camp with a light rain shower after an afternoon or thunder and lightning with spots of rain. The trail when it crosses the brush field high up is almost completely overgrown, and with all the vegetation very wet, so I was I in short order.

The flowers on this trip were good. Not as abundant and diverse as some years, but plenty good enough add visual spice to the entire trip.

The next day I walked north to Carson Pass, Meiss Meadow, had a break at Dardanelles Lake but decided not to stay for the crowd that was still there Sunday afternoon even after most of the weekend people had left. Then continued north, out the Lake Valley trail, and through the subdivisions of Lake Valley. This part of the trip, from the trailhead into South Lake Tahoe, sucks, too long and not very interesting for the end of a wilderness hike, so I hitched part of the way into town.

Went to South Lake Brewing for my traditional trip-ending beer, and ended up getting adopted by a family who gave me a place to sleep, shower, and fed me. Wow! And then home on the Amtrak bus the next day.

Photos on Flickr:; other albums in my Mokelumne collection

Previous trips, and routes guessed after-the-fact from photos:

  • 2005-10-02: PCT Ebbets Pass to Wet Meadow
  • 2005-10-22: PCT Carson Pass to Wet Meadow
  • 2006-07: Horse Camp Trail, Summit City Creek Trail, PCT to Carson Pass
  • 2007-07: 4th of July, Summit City Trail, Munson Meadow Trail
  • 2012-07: Grouse Lake Trail, upper Mokelumne River canyon, Camp Irene Trail, PCT Ebbetts Pass to Carson Pass
  • 2014-07: Munson Meadow Trail, lower Mokelumne River Canyon, Salt Springs


lower Mokelumne River Canyon

mokelumne river
Mokelumne River

Two years ago I hiked the upper Mokelumne River canyon, from Highway 4 to Camp Irene, one of the more rugged and certainly the most brushy hike I’ve done (photos, but no blog post). This summer I walked the remainder of the canyon from Camp Irene to Salt Springs Reservoir.

I spent two days with my friend Steffani who lives near Pollock Pines, and after a day hike to Granite Lake near Silver Lake off Highway 88, she dropped me there and I walked back into Granite Lake. From there I walked into the wilderness at Horsethief Springs and on to Munson Meadow, where I camped up on a ridge overlooking the canyon, in part to avoid the thick mosquitos in the meadow area.

Continue reading “lower Mokelumne River Canyon”