Painted Rocks Trail


This is an old Indian trans-Sierra trail that crossed the high country from Squaw Valley to the Central Valley following the North Fork of the American River. Today the trail goes from the PCT to Palisade Creek and the Long Valley area.

Today’s trail is chopped in half by the Soda Springs Road that goes to, and beyond, a private section in the middle “owned” by a group known as the “North Fork Association,” or more commonly, “the Cedars.” They have put up “No Trespassing” signs on both sides of the old Soda Springs County road through their property in an attempt to discourage the public from using the old trail.

The trail going east from the Soda Springs Road even has a dedicated easement from Nick Chickering whose family owns much of the property around the old Soda Springs. The easement is along the private gated road that goes east for 2 miles before resuming on public USFS land.

Directions: To get to the trail take the Soda Springs exit from Interstate 80. This is a fairly rough road not suited for low clearance cars but gets graded every year. The trail starts from the road going east, just before the bridge at the river.

Don’t let the signs intimidate you from parking near the river. Notice that there are no “No Parking” signs along the road because the owners know it is a county road. The best place to park is along the road south of the river at the first wide pull out place.

The trail is a public USFS easement all the way through the Cedars property. But there are no signs that indicate the easement, just ignore the private signs and enjoy a two mile walk along the road. The road finally crosses a bridge at the river where you’ll see a naked post where the trail sign used to be; go L, (east) from here on the Painted Rocks trail which will take you to the PCT over about five luscious miles of high country terrain.

1 Response to Painted Rocks Trail

  1. Michael Barham - Dutch Flat says:

    Excellent article. That road is awful and quite dusty.
    Caretakers and patrol seem friendly but firmly discourage entering the private homes area. You may drive the 6 – 8 miles once. And probably never again!


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