12.3 miles from Georgetown. Moderate-steep options. MAP
TRAIL UPDATE: See comments section below for hiker-supplied trail conditions as of March 31, 2016
Buckeye Flat is an abandoned mining settlement below Ralston Ridge on the north side of the Rubicon River. A cattle bridge crosses the river there just downstream from the confluence of Long Canyon.
Directions: To access this trail follow the directions to Nevada Point Trail and park at that trailhead. You could drive 1 mile further down Rubicon Road with a high clearance vehicle, but why short change a pleasant hike with such awesome views? Follow the road down towards the river and marvel at the fact that this was the main road to French Meadows before Ellicott’s Bridge was built in 1964.
This Trail was originally built by the Ralston’s in the late 1800’s when they wanted to find a better route from Georgetown to the Ralston Mine. This early supply trail also accessed the mining village at Buckeye Springs, (now called Buckeye Flat), before continuing up to the Ralston Ridge. Later, most of the route was replaced by Rubicon Road.
Watch for the trail leaving the road on the left side (plastic post sign) as you approach the lower canyon in 2.8 miles. The road does continue for another half mile but has a dangerous washed out section further along, the detour trail is a shortcut that bypasses the hazard.
The detour trail follows steeply down for 1/3 mile where you go left onto the old road (number 4 here on rocks). Go another ½ mile and watch for the trail to leave the road on the left as soon as you make the first switchback, then down 1/3 mile to the bridge. And what a beautiful bridge it is! The trail up the other side has also suffered a bad washout.
Historical note: In January 1885, the Georgetown Gazette reported that the Ralstons had moved a piano from Georgetown to Ralston via the Mt. Gregory Trail. The piano was secured to a sled that was pulled by two mules. The move required all of three days but the piano reportedly played well after the trip!
The Mt. Hope Trail preceded the Rubicon Road as the way to Ralston but if you hike it today, it’s steepness (straight down no with switchbacks) makes it hard to believe anybody could move a piano there.