Hiking my three favorite trails in Northern California:
Hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities and I always seem to write about beautiful hikes I have done in other countries or states. This got me thinking about the hikes that I love, which are close to home.
The three I chose are within an hour of my house and are trails that I hike often.
#1 Stevens Trail
The Stevens Trail starting point is five minutes from my house. It’s a 4.5 mile downhill hike on a single track trail, which leads down to the North-fork of the American River. At different times of the year there are a variety of wildflowers to enjoy and in the winter months, millions of ladybugs migrate to an area near the river. It’s amazing to see them covering an entire tree, as well as some near-by bushes and plants. The 4.5 miles back up always feels longer and it gives me time to enjoy the views of the American River Canyon. The trail was established in 1870, as a toll road during the Gold Rush. There is even an old mine shaft along the trail. Often, we see modern day gold miners panning the river. I love this hike because it’s such a great workout and the views are spectacular.
#2 Castle Peak
The Castle Peak hike is just off Interstate 80 near Donner Summit. It is a year-round playground for those of us that like to hike and snowshoe. The hike begins at the parking area and we follow a dirt road up towards Castle Pass. There are other options to take along the way; “Hole in the Ground” is a popular mountain bike trail that takes off to the left. Once we reach the ridge of Castle Pass with 360 degree views of the Sierras, we have the option to turn left and hike the short, but steep Andesite Peak. Or, go straight and follow the Pacific Crest Trail all the way to Canada! We usually plan a set distance or time and hike until we decided to stop for lunch at our turnaround point. The third trail option is to turn right and continue up the mountain to the top of Castle Peak. It’s steep and rocky but well worth the hike. The summit has the best views of the Sierras with an elevation of 9,103 feet. I love this hike and the different options that are available. It’s also close to the town of Truckee, which has several fabulous Mexican food restaurants to choose from!
#3 Mt. Judah Loop
The Mt. Judah Loop trail is another favorite of mine that I have been hiking for years. It begins outside of Truckee near Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. This trail is part of the Pacific Crest Trail, so depending on how far you want to hike, you can make it as long as needed. The actual loop is 4.5 miles long and will take you up to the top of Mt. Judah where you will be overlooking Donner Lake. The views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are amazing and it’s not a strenuous hike. We usually follow the PCT another mile or so along the ridge line for even better views. There is also another option my husband Scott and I, and our friends have done, and it’s hiking the PCT over to Squaw Valley. Most of the trail is PCT until you descend at Granite Chief Trail. From start to finish, it’s about 17 miles and requires a car at both ends.
This is a fun variety of trails with beautiful views and some of our family favorites.
I enjoyed sharing my favorite local hikes with you. I hope you add them to your Hiking List if you are in the Truckee I-80 area. If you click here you can read about the Rubicon Trail at the edge of Lake Tahoe, another of my favorites!