A popular past time in the Motherlode is exploring forested and rocky terrain with what the forest service calls “off highway vehicles” Off highway vehicles include: ATV’s, Quads or 4 wheelers, rock crawling vehicles and snowmobiles. Snowmobiles are an off highway vehicle classified with other Over Snow Vehicles (OSVs). The trails in the Mother Lode offer a fantastic way to enjoy the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Many areas of the Calaveras Ranger District are open and accessible for motorized oversnow travel during the winter months. The District offers 35 miles of groomed OSV routes, as well as many more miles of un-groomed trail and open cross-country riding areas.
Bear Valley Trail
1.5 miles of groomed intermediate trail from Lake Alpine SNO-PARK to Bear Valley Village.
During the winter months, Highway 4 (east of closure gate) is groomed for snowmobile use from the SNOPARK just east of Bear Valley to the top of Ebbetts Pass (approximately 15 miles) and to Highland Lakes. This trail has numerous segments, appropriate for different skill levels from novice to expert. As the trail climbs towards the pass, the views are spectacular. Opportunities exist for expert riders to continue riding on the un-groomed portion of the Highway on the east side of Ebbetts Pass. (Note: The groomed portion of Highway 4 is a multi-user trail, and is heavily used by nordic skiers as well as snowmobilers, particularly in the Lake Alpine region.)
Spicer Reservoir Area
This area contains approximately 20 miles of groomed trail appropriate for novice to intermediate riders. The trail begins 1/4 mile from Highway 4 at the Spicer Reservoir Road parking area. The trail descends gradually approximately 2.5 miles to the Stanislaus River, where it crosses a bridge then ascends quickly out of the canyon. From this point, the trail offers a gentle, level ride to a 3-way intersection, 8 miles from the parking lot. Riders may continue on to Union and Utica Reservoirs, Summit and Elephant Rock Lakes, or the Spicer Reservoir Power House. Very experienced riders may continue on the un-groomed route along Slick Rock Road to access Lake Alpine.
Off Highway Vehicle Routes
The Trail starts off from the Campground below Lake Alpine. Stay to the right as you approach the lake. The trail head is well-traveled about three quarters of a mile from highway 4. It is a very scenic trail, about 3 miles long. Although short it has enough challenging and fun spots to make it worth the trip. At can be run quickly in less than two hours but we recommend taking your time.
Following the pristine Silver Creek which flows over solid granite in some areas the trail has two major water crossings one about 10″ deep and the other via a one lane bridge over Duck Creek. Slick Rock gets its name from a rugged section of slippery granite that you have to negotiate. Low gears help, it offers enough of a challenge to be fun. Another fun section the requires some skill is the Stairs.
On the map, Slick Rock is labeled a road because it was paved 50 years ago when the dams in the area were built. Most of the pavement is gone.
Black Springs Road
Road (7N23) is not specifically groomed or marked. You will find over 100 miles of connecting roads and trails, there is enjoyable riding for all levels and types of OHV users, including 4WD, ATVs and motorcycles.
The trail network is generally accessible to OHVs from early summer to fall; during the winter months, portions of the network are available for use by Over-Snow Vehicles. A map showing recommended OHV routes is available upon request from the District Office.
A popular motorcycle riding area with 40 miles of signed trails and 140 miles of road open to OHV use extending from north of Crandall Peak to the Deer Creek area northwest of Highway 108. The riding area ranges in elevation of 3500 feet at Deer Creek to 5500 feet at Crandall Peak. Four-wheel drive and ATV trails are limited, but use is allowed on the 140 miles of road. A camping area located at Crandall Peak near Spring Gap off Forest Roads 4N01 and 4N88, accesses these routes and offers dispersed camping and vehicle parking/off loading with restrooms, but no other services or potable water is available. Trails in the Crandall Peak area are usually closed in the winter due to snow blocking access. Four-wheel drive and ATV trails are limited in the riding area, but use is allowed on the 140 miles of road.
The Hull and Trout Creek area southeast of Long Barn is a popular area for ATV and four-wheel drive users to operate with 20 miles of signed trails and 100 miles of roads open to OHV use. Unlike the Crandall and Deer Creek area, few single-track motorcycle trails currently exist. The riding area ranges in elevation of 4500 feet near Long Barn to 7600 feet at Bourland Mountain. The riding area is closed during the winter due to snow blocking access. Hull Creek campground is nearby with 19 units, restrooms, and drinking water. Adjacent areas offer no-service, dispersed camping opportunities.
The Hunter Creek area east of Tuolumne City on the south end of the district offers 100 miles of roads open to OHV use. Future site specific analysis may result in trail opportunities being developed. The riding area ranges in elevation of 2500 feet at Hunter Creek to 5800 feet at Duckwall Mountain. The riding area is open all year, but access on some roads may be blocked due to snow in winter months. River Ranch Campground off Cottonwood Road offers full service camping facilities near the riding area. The campground is open March 1- November 30. OHV use is not permitted within the campground or on Cottonwood Road. Adjacent areas offer no-service, dispersed camping opportunities.
Deer Valley Trail
Highway 4 towards Ebbett’s Pass. At Hermit Valley on Highway 4 you’ll find a remote forested turnout that is the start of the Deer Valley Trail. It is well marked on local USFS maps.
Immediately the trail turns to rock crawling. The first 100 yards turns back the faint of heart, but shortly thereafter you’re into moderate wheeling with scenery that knocks your socks off. The high elevation Sierra Nevada ecotype is lodgepole pine, red fir and pine forests that are interspaced with huge granite outcroppings. It makes for great wheeling.
The trail traverses the cherry stem through the Mokelumne Wilderness and ends up at Blue Lakes, a scenic lake wonderland owned by the utility company (PG & E). Fishing is great here, and camping is abundant. A high-speed dirt road gets you out of the Blue Lakes area to Highway 88 in Hope Valley. From there you can follow Highway 88 west back to Jackson.
For more information on the Deer Valley Trail, go online to: californiajeeper.com.