Shimmering lakes, wooded glens and bright sunflowers can be enjoyed along 25 miles of East Bay Municipal Utilities District trails in the Mokelumne area of the Sierra foothills.
These hiking and horseback-riding paths go through 31,000 acres of open space. EBMUD provides parking at three staging areas and stocks water on the trails for horses. The trail is open from sunrise to sunset.
It has been 10 years since work first began on a rugged and remote one-mile segment of the Mokelumne Crest to Coast Trail between Patti´s Point and the log boom on Pardee Watershed.
EBMUD mounted patrolmen used this narrow segment of trail to patrol Pardee Reservoir until the 1970s. Lacking regular use, the trail was soon overgrown with vegetation. In 1993, the California Youth Authority (CYA) crews brushed the old mounted patrol trail. Soon afterward, the Mokelumne Trailbusters started widening the trail and building trail structures on regularly scheduled workdays.
Trail builders hiked in as far as three quarters of a mile, year round, carrying tools and supplies to the various job sites. Given the topography this was no easy task, just ask any veteran Trailbuster; they know every inch of this trail segment intimately. In many areas, the trail was widened out of solid rock with hand tools. The numerous rock structures, some built by the Trailbusters and others half a century old, were made from native stone that was collected on site and moved using brute strength.
In December 1995, Bellfree Construction completed installation of the 25-foot fiberglass and wood bridge at Spanish Gulch. The California Conservation Corps from Delta Center excavated the abutment areas by hand. Then the CCC carried the sack concrete to the site to be mixed and poured to make the abutments.
NJROTC students from Lincoln High School in Stockton and the Mokelumne Trailbusters carried in the fiberglass portions of this bridge a distance of one-half mile. The maximum weight of the heaviest component of the bridge was almost 100 pounds.
After the bridge was completed, Bellfree Construction drove its trail-building excavator, about 3,500 pounds, to the center of the bridge and then added the weight of its four employees. Needless to say, the bridge did not budge.
The route between Spanish Gulch and Patti´s Point is very rugged and steep because of property boundaries and topography. The elevation change in this one-half mile is 550 feet. Stairs, landings, and retaining walls were constructed to mitigate these steep grades. Presently 80 to 85 percent of the trail use on the Mokelumne Watershed is by equestrians. The wooden stairs were pinned to solid rock and the stone stairs were constructed of massive rocks to reduce erosion and provide a safe route for the horses.
In October of 2002 and 2003 the Mokelumne Watershed and Recreation Division staff worked with the California Conservation Corps focusing on the completion of this challenging segment of trail. While working on the project, corps members camped at Pardee Recreation Area instead of commuting every day, thereby increasing efficiency of time and providing a more immersing experience for all involved. The funding for this project was a combination of EBMUD operating funds and CCC Proposition 12 Park Bond Funds.
Most of the 100- to 500-pound building rock used in this project, was collected off site using a griphoist, winch or knuckleboom crane. Suitable building rock for stairs, that was too large to be moved, was split in half by drilling a series of holes in the rock and then using feathers and wedges. A large portion of this rock would be transported 11 miles before it would finally be set in place. The rock was transferred from a truck to a trailer that was pulled by an ATV, then from the trailer to the power carrier or stokes stretcher using a hand operated davit crane or using rock bars and brute strength. Finally it was unloaded from the power carrier and moved into place using rock bars and brute strength. The measure of a successful workday was when the Trailbusters were tired and dirty … so they must have had a good time!
On May 1, we dedicated the opening of this most beautiful and challenging segment of trail, the longest mile.
There are a number of places to access the trail, but permits are required and trail users must follow the rules.
Permits can be purchased for $2.50 for one day access, $10 for one year, $20 for three years, and $30 for five years. (A free trail map is included). Check www.ebmud.com/services/recreation/sierra/trails/ for details, or call (209) 772-8204.
Daily permits must be purchased in person at the Mokelumne Watershed and Recreation Headquarters (Monday-Friday), or at one of the three recreation areas, Camanche South Shore, Camanche North Shore, and Pardee (open 7 days a week). The headquarters station is at 5883 E. Camanche Parkway outside Valley Springs.
Equestrian campers with trail permits will have access to 7.25 miles of the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail (MCCT) from the campground and can trailer their stock to Camanche North Shore for 5.1 miles of trail and a 3-mile loop, or trailer to the Campo Seco Staging Area for 9.6 miles of the MCCT. Work has begun on the MCCT segment that will connect the trail at Camanche South Shore with the trail at the Campo Seco Staging Area. When completed, there will be 21 continuous miles of MCCT.
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