It’s my day-off. It’s the only decent weather day we’re likely to have this week. What should I do?? Hike, of course! I wanted to do a good long distance today, but I didn’t want to drive a long way, so I headed up to Auburn to do the ten mile Foresthill Divide Loop. The Foresthill divide straddles between the North Fork and Middle Fork of the American River.
This trail has a number of trailheads along the way. I started at the 8 Mile trailhead which is around the official “mid-point” of the hike. With all of the rain we’ve been getting, everything is very green and lush right now. And though it’s getting a little late in the Sierra Foothill wildflower season, there were still a fair amount of wildflowers in full bloom, including quite a bit of Lupine.
The trail hugs the south side of the North Fork of the canyon. One has occasional views of the canyon (and of “Lake” Clementine), but there’s a lot of vegetation through most of the hike so it’s difficult to see much. This side of the loop has a LOT of poison oak on it, though the trail is very busy and well maintained, so if one stays on the trail, it’s not really a problem. About mid-way through the loop on the western end, the trail cross the divide, and reverses direction on the south side, above the American River middle fork.
This side is noticeably drier, the terrain more open, and one sees more grass than poison oak. The best views are really on this side of the loop, with lots of open hillsides with grass and wildflowers. The first half of the hike has a lot of downhill, so I was pretty sure I’d be seeing some up hill on the return side. But it’s never really overly steep, and doable by most folks.
This hike did seem a little bit long, and in some places monotonous. Even though it was lovely, I found myself ready for it to be finished. One could shorten the loop, by taking the Upper Clementine access road up across Foresthill Road, and catching the trailhead on the other side and up about 200 yards. This would make it more like a 8 mile hike, a bit more reasonable.
It was a great day out though, and I had a great workout. And it was fairly quiet… I only met a few mountain bikers along the way (who were quite safe and polite). Other than that… bliss.
Kit: OSPREY Stratos 24 backpack; SMARTWOOL versa-t shirt; CLOUDVEIL wind jacket; BEYOND Steel-Shock convertible pants; Smartwool trekking socks; VASQUE Breeze Low GTX boots; MHW sun hat.