49 miles from Bell Tower. Many easy-moderate miles.
This is the granddaddy of California Trails, stretching from Mexico to Canada with 2650 miles of trail in between. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail leads many “thru hikers” all the way, every year. They will spend 3-6 months trying to conquer its many challenges, like dry deserts in the Southern California region, steep ascents to over 13,000 feet in the scenic high sierra, and just a lot of grueling day after day walking.
This section of trail crosses Highway 50 near Little Norway and Echo Summit, so we can follow it north to Echo Lakes, or south towards Showers Lake and Highway 88.
Directions: Go about 49 miles east from Placerville on Highway 50 and turn R after a sign that reads “Pacific Crest Trail,” (this is the old entrance road to the defunct Echo Ski Resort, now known as Adventure Mountain. A small parking lot is right off the highway on your left.
The trail parallels the entrance road on its south side and I would recommend going south from here rather than north as you can park closer to Echo Lakes to go north and avoid the trail along by the cabins in between. See Echo Lakes.
Going south you skirt the Adventure Mountain’s vast parking lot and pick up the trailhead near the east end of the parking lot. The trail will take you near Benwood Meadow and along a pretty gentle crest where you’ll encounter first, the Bryan Meadow trail, and then the Sayles Canyon Trail; both are avenues down to Highway 50, the Pony Express Trail, and way beyond.
Showers Lake, about 10 miles, is a popular place to camp.
Carson Pass, another 5 miles, is at Highway 88 where the Mokelumne Wilderness begins. USFS information station there with parking and permits for day use.