18.8 miles from Bell Tower. Easy, with cautions. MAP
From Kyburz to Camino this early mining ditch brought much needed water to the “diggings” near Placerville and is an important water supply today; it even helps keep Jenkinson Lake wet with water.
Access to some sections of this old historical canal is difficult and even discouraged by the El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) who does not advertise hiking on their canal for liability concerns. The concerns are justified, as This trail is along a water canal with steep sides that would be difficult to escape from if you were to fall in.
The canal can be accessed from numerous locations, but my favorite trailhead is from Hazel Valley Road. Some sections have catwalks to walk on (nerve-wracking for some), while wide levees provide easy walking for other sections.
Directions: Go east on Highway 50 for 17.9 miles and turn R on Hazel Valley Road, (across from Pacific House), then turn L right away on the frontage road. Bear R in .1 mile and go another .8 miles to park just past the ditch crossing.
The trail follows the canal in both directions and can be walked for many miles. If you go east you’ll come to a diversion tunnel that the water flows through but you can continue on the empty old earlier ditch that offers great views of the river canyon and Highway 50. Once you meet the running water ditch again you will encounter catwalks along the way.
Another access point is behind the SMUD office up on Old Carson Road from Fresh Pond, but this place (with an old gate) has a “No Trespassing” sign now.
History: Builders spent years on construction in the 1870’s before completion in 1876. Originally known as the El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Co. then the Western States Gas and Electric Co. 1916, PG and E operated it before EID took over as current owner.