50 miles from Georgetown. Moderate 12 miles round trip. MAP
This trail was built as part of the reservoir project back in the mid-1960’s. Designed to enhance recreation around the lake and access the boat-in campground at the upper end of the reservoir, the trail climbs and falls, sometimes steeply, as it routes around rock outcrops. The primitive campground offers ten scattered and secluded sites on terraces graced with rock and water falling creeks.
Directions: Follow Wentworth Springs Road 23.1 miles and turn L on the signed (11 pines Rd.) road to Hell Hole. Follow the signs 30 miles to the reservoir and park in the boater’s parking lot. You can use a stairway down to the road below that leads to the dam. A gate in the fence allows hikers to access the dam. Walk across the dam and look for the trail climbing up from the other end.
The Trail begins with a stairway like climb that soon levels off and meanders as it works its way around boulders and drainages. Water is usually available for filtering all summer long from several creeks along the route. The trail takes turns rising and falling sometimes getting very close to the lake. After about 5 miles watch for the campground on the left of the trail with pit toilets barely visible from the trail. No Sign.
Many years the upper campground is far from the shrunken reservoir and empty of boat-in visitors. During high water years I’ve found it full.
The trail does continue past the campground but becomes faint and harder to follow after half a mile. Adventurous explorers can follow it all the way to McKinstry Lake (5 miles further) with route finding skill and some good luck. The trail suffered from logging and flooding in the early 1990”s and sections were obliterated. Good camping is found in old growth forest beyond the upper lake along the Rubicon River. You must go off trail to locate the river.
The east end area of Hell Hole is without roads or trails all the way up to Barker Pass. Great cross-country exploring grounds.
The north side is accessible by 4WD road from the firehouse.