40 miles from Bell Tower. 1-8 easy-moderate miles, round trip. MAP
Caples Creek and the Silver Fork of the American River combine to drain a large canyon that catches water from the north side of the Highway 88 below Caples Lake. It is not a designated wilderness area but it has all of the qualities of a wilderness area but without the status or fees.
In the early 1990’s a dam and hydro-electric plant was proposed for the confluence of Caples Creek and the Silver Fork but with much public protest the plans were dismissed.
This area was popular with the Native Americans who hunted and processed acorns along the creek where you may see bed rock mortars today. With beautiful meadows that turn rich with fall color of Aspen, Caples Creek may draw the off trail explorer to go beyond the Government Meadow Trail end and enjoy cross country hiking among giant Cedars and old growth Jeffrey Pine.
Directions: Go 31 miles east of Placerville to turn Right on Silver Fork Road (in Kyburz), go 9 miles and turn Left just before a bridge, (Fitch-Rantz on topo maps), across the Silver Fork of the American River. You can park in this parking area along the road.
The trail starts about a quarter mile in on the road and follows the north bank of the Silver Fork of the American River up about a mile to its junction with Caples Creek where it continues left along that creek’s north bank.
The first scenic meadow is named for Jake Schneider, early cattleman of the area. A few miles of Aspen forest later the main trail drops into Government Meadows, a soggy place in early spring soon after the snow melt but drying out later in the summer. Just before Government Meadows a side trail is found that ascend out of the valley and goes to and beyond Cody Meadows.
From Government Meadows, the trail crosses the creek and loops back to Forgotten Flat on an old packer’s trail that connects back to the Schneider Meadow with a bridge across Caples Creek. This entire area is great for exploring with fewer people using it, but some trails are open to motorcycles.