(Wilkinson Property) MAP
3.8 miles from Bell Tower. Steep 3 miles+ round trip.
This trail gives much needed access to the South Fork between Placerville and Coloma. It does drop rather steeply down an old road that exposes a “Botanist’s Paradise” of wildflowers in spring with some rather unusual plants such as the Hop Tree. Closer to the river it crosses the historic “Greenhorn” Ditch before reaching a quiet place just below Racehorse Bend.
Directions: Take Highway 49 north from downtown about 4 miles and watch for the “Red Shack” produce stand on the inside of a sharp turn. The small parking lot is on the left, directly across from the shack. Watch traffic here pulling in or out!
The main trail follows the dirt road that heads down into the canyon from the parking lot. The old ditch carried water from Chili Bar 10 miles downstream to Lotus, and operated up until the flood of 1997 damaged the system. You can walk along the ditch downstream for quite a ways.
Another lesser known trail leaves north from the parking lot and takes a gentle course up canyon for almost a mile, to an abandoned mine. Good views of the river.
History: This property is now managed by the BLM after the American River Conservancy (ARC) acquired a land grant from Richard and Arlene Wilkinson of 131 acres in 1991. The trailhead is also the location of the long-gone Luse Ditch Flume, which transported water to the Gold Hill area between 1900-1924. This flume was one of the largest ever built in El Dorado Co. at 153’ high and 750’ long.