Easy, Green and Cool...
While I more enjoy the trails running up and down the west side of the mountain range, there are a number of mountain top meadow/canyons that provide extensive opportunity for recreational fun. Most of these follow the gentle slopes of open meadows, often trailing along over or adjacent to old railway beds. At around 9,000' these high trails make for a pleasant getaway from the summertime valley heat.
The initial development of this area was all about harvesting the timber. Roads were cut and rails were laid all over the range. The rails are long gone, but the rotting remains of old trestles and the coal scattered, rock bound beds still remain, winding around most every drainage area.
Some of these old routes have become formal forest trails. This is one of those.
Beginning on the west end, off Forest Road 64, at around 9400', the trail winds downhill, winding around the broad meadow, usually running adjacent to the old railway line. About halfway through the 4.5 mile distance, the trail moves off to the left, climbing away from the meadow and up into the trees, curving around and over to the adjacent drainage where it will intersect with the Upper Willis Canyon Trail, terminating there at the bridge crossing the small stream curling down through that canyon area.
A nice feature about this canyon trail, and many of these higher mountain routes: there is running water! The meadows may have broad marshy areas.
What I really like about all of the Sacramento mountain hiking is the large number of animals populating the area. On most every outing I'll come across one or more of :Elk, Deer, Turkey, Bear, Porcupine, Mountain Lion, and a wide variety of bird life... If you begin your day early enough, the number of Elk sighted may number well above 50. I counted over 150 on one morning outing.
The practical application to this trail is to use it in conjunction with another trail to make for a nice loop... Upper Willis Canyon Trail (T9278) is a good choice. I would suggest winding down Willis Canyon Trail and return back up the more sun protected Hubbell Canyon Trail.
The one negative: these upper trails are ripe with ORV use. The trails are multi-use: horses, bikes, ATV's, hikers, motorbikes... so, you could encounter any or all of those. The route is effectively double track, probably the remains of an old jeep usage. Fortunately, the overall use is low. Weekends see some activity; midweek you may have the area to yourself.
The trails are ideal for mountain biking... averaging around 200' per mile, up or down. Biking might be the optimal use for these gentle paths.
The availability of water makes the area a good choice for backpacking. Hike to an adjacent side canyon, then move off and away up one of those tracks to score total privacy. I would avoid camping near the main trails.
So... enjoy this or any of the other fifty plus high meadow trails scattered around these great mountains!
Note: it is not uncommon for the Forest Service to close the forest in May, and not open it back up until the Monsoons begin in July. Even if open, be aware of the fire hazard potentials. Think and plan appropriately in regards where you park your car!
Also, this is a higher elevation. Expect to feel the altitude. - Jun 04 2012 imikeOne-Way Notice:
This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example