For some odd reason, this trail is omitted from the Hiking Guides for this region. It begins just off Hiway 82, at the same area where the Rails to Trails Switchback Trail begins. Instead of heading out on that trail or up either of the two forest roads (FR 206..FR 206C), the hike simply takes off up the natural drainage between the two roads.
The trail winds up-drainage through dense Doug Fir and Pine, a narrow, well tread path eventually reaching a broad meadow frequently visited with Elk, Deer and Turkey.
Exiting the upper end of the meadow, the trail moves through more of the same tall forests finally arriving at a larger, once improved homestead area, complete with water tanks, old foundations, pastures and wild horses. The trail also intersects FR 568, which winds back to the right, intersecting the aforementioned FR 206C... opening up the possibility for a loop hike back to the car. The more pleasant route, if hiking, is to walk back down the valley the way you entered.
If mountain biking, it is fun to simply begin the ride in the Village of Cloudcroft, riding on connecting trails over to FR 568, then descending the valley trail as part of a broader outing. FR 203, Bailey Canyon Rd., can add some nice additional mileage and climbing on the bike trip.
There are also the established and published Forest trails, including the Switchback Trail, that orient from the parking area at the beginning of the hike. Numerous routing options are available.
This trail gives an excellent presentation of what hiking in the Sacramento Mountains is like, and it is just off the paved Hiway, not requiring any lengthy drives over rougher roads.
Note: this area is subject to closure during the wildfire danger months of May and June... check with the Ranger station prior to planning any outings.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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