Outside with Charlie: Take a hike

By From page A8 | June 13, 2012


June always comes with weather surprises. From sunny and warm to storms that drop the snow level to 4,000 feet, it’s an interesting month for the outdoor crowd.

Early season hiking is here, finicky weather and all. Keep in mind that the higher into the mountains, the more likely you’ll find snow on the trail. This is especially true on all north facing slopes, trails and anywhere protected from the sun.

If you’d like to stick to the urban area, as much as we have one, here is a choice that should get you out and about, right in Placerville.

Head to the El Dorado Trail and take the part that heads out over Weber Creek and terminates at Missouri Flat Road. The trail head is on Forni Road just about at the intersection with Ray Lawyer Drive. It’s just 2.64 miles and well worth the effort to hike or bike.

This is a multi-use trail and you’ll share it with bikes, runners, dogs on leashes, and groups of friends out for a stroll. Starting at Forni Road, you’ll find some uphill, a little downhill, but most of the way it’s relatively flat.

One of the highlights is the bridge over Weber Creek. It’s about 100 feet above the creek, and offers some very nice views all around. This time of year the creek should be running pretty well, with the banks sprouting wildflowers. There are spots of tree cover, and places where the trail is more open to the sun. Remember to take water, a hat, and use sunscreen.

When you get to Missouri Flat Road, turn around and enjoy the hike back. It’s a delightful trail to put your early season hiking legs to use without overtaxing yourself. When you get back to the trail head, head into downtown Placerville and have some gelato at Zia’s, or lunch anywhere on Main Street.

If you’d like to get out of town and into the mountains, a very nice hike right now is the trail to Frog Lake at Carson Pass. It’s a relatively easy hike, and offers some stunning views along the way. Day by day, the trail past Frog Lake looses a bit more snow, and getting past there to Lake Winnemucca and onto Round Top Lake gets more easy and doable.

The distance is about 3.5 miles round trip. You’ll gain a little over 244 feet. Of course, you start at 8,580 feet at the trail head. The information hut at the trail head is open, and that’s where you will get an update on how far you can hike before you hit snow.

While this is a very well marked trail, you have to keep in mind that you’re headed into the forest. There aren’t any coffee carts or snack bars along the way. You are responsible for your own goodies. Take more than enough. It’s better than running short, even on a short hike like this one.

Along with a fine, easy day of hiking in the high country, you’ll get a pretty good idea of when the wildflower show will burst forth. Last year they were quite late due to the deep snow pack we had.

This year’s winter was mild. Early spring was a bit testy, but the sun has been out more, the temperatures milder and the flowers are already starting to show signs of life.

Remember, take a fully charged camera and make sure there’s room on the memory card. The views from the trail, once you break out of the trees, are spectacular.

Along with the camera you’ll need enough water for the day, lunch, snacks, a hat and some rain gear in your pack. Check the weather report before you head out, but no matter what it says, take rain gear. Weather changes quickly up there. Slather on the sunscreen and put some bug juice on.

There you have it. Two very nice early season hikes, one in town, one in the near-by mountains. Have a great time, and get outside.

Charlie Ferris

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