Roanoke Trail

3 ¾ miles from Georgetown. Steep 4 miles R.T.

TRAIL UPDATE: See comments section below for hiker-supplied trail conditions as of March 31, 2016

This trail is currently very difficult to access due to the rough nature of Bottle Hill Road.

When early settlers in Georgetown wanted to visit their sister town of Foresthill this trail was the way to get there. The trail is mentioned in The Journal of Steven Wing by Phyllis Gernes as the route Mr. Wing hiked to attend a dance in Foresthill. The trail today goes from the site of Bottle Hill down to the site of Ford’s Bar. In olden days a stage road brought the stage to Ford’s Bar from Todd’s Valley.

Directions: Take Church St. east out of town where it becomes Mameluke Rd. Follow this steep road down and cross the Canyon Creek bridge. Go approx. ½ mile and turn R on an unmarked main road (Bottle Hill Road). Follow this for 1 ½ miles to a open and flat area popular for target shooting. The trail begins on the L as a logging spur road.

The trail circles a plantation of Ponderosa Pine on the road for about ½ mile. When you come to a creek crossing look for a trail going R. Sometimes the beginning is overgrown with Scotch broom. The trail parallels the creek as it drops down to pass the entrance to the Roanoke Mine.

This historical mine is one of the most extensive in the G.T. area and if you are willing to wade the flooded entrance the mine goes through solid rock for a hundred yards before entering a less stable section of rotting timbers and collapsed ceilings.

Try to imagine the torture of David Fraser who spent 10 days lost in the mine during the Christmas holidays of 1888 after his candle failed and his matches got wet. He was finally rescued by friends who said he had lost his mind from the ordeal.

Beyond the mine the trail gets steeper and steeper using switchbacks to carve its way down to Ford’s Bar and the confluence of Otter Creek with the Middle Fork of the American River. You’ve dropped 2,200 feet in 2 miles.

If you want more exercise at this point and don’t think that the hike back up will be enough—cross Otter Creek and walk a bit upstream along the left bank watching for an obscure trail climbing up on the left. You’ve located:

Cock Robin Trail  (first place award for steepness)

(Only 8 miles from Georgetown on the Roanoke trail, otherwise 21 miles by road through Volcanoville to its top end.)

This is a really fun but steep climb up an impossible rock spine that wastes little ground climbing up towards the Volcanoville Ridge.[1] Hold your breath if you can at some awesome river overlooks along the way that appear to be straight down from the trailside.

I’ve been told that this old trail was used by horses and mules during the gold rush but I don’t believe it. It has USFS blazes along its way indicating it as an official forest service trail. The trail approaches 45 degrees of inclination up towards the top.

As the trail levels out at the top, look for the unusual manzanita that grows there. The rare “El Dorado Manzanita” can be recognized by its shaggy bark and small leaves. It grows mixed in with its more common smooth-barked manzanita cousins.

Additional Directions: If you don’t feel up to this hike as an extension of the Roanoke trail, you can drive to its upper end. Go 8.3 miles out Wentworth Springs Rd. to turn L on Volcanoville Rd. Go another 7 miles to turn L on Paymaster Mine Rd. Go about 6 miles out on this high clearance road (4WD if wet) until it ends at the Cock Robin Point trailhead. There are a few side roads but stay on the main route on top of the ridge.

[1] Evan Jones, (Co-author with Bob Griffis of Take a Hike) told me that miners had better things to do than build switchbacks.

Click HERE to view the Take A Hike! version of this hike.


2 Responses to Roanoke Trail

  1. Phillip says:

    March 31, 2016 Update for Roanoak and Cockrobin trail: Forest service marker at cock robin point calls it Roan Oak but the original sign with number has been destroyed and only pieces left. The trail starts down easy but major tree blockage within 50 yards. Then the trail gets very steep and has not been used for at least 5 to 8 years. Found white flags (aged from being pink) but sometimes very hard to find trail bed. Very STEEP indeed!!!!! Tons of poison oak and overgrown. Ford’s bar has been cleared within last 2 years and very nice. Going up the other part of the trail: hard to find trail head but saw a rock on a rock that clued me in. This trail is overgrown and very numerous downed trees, some of the trail bed is eroding, but at least there were some switchbacks. Major size trees down requiring major effort to get through. Not recommended for casual hiking but is peaceful at the river.


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