Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sporty Sunday: Hiking Stevens Trail

If you live in the Sacramento area, go hike Stevens Trail next weekend! The wildflowers are all in bloom, the creeks and river are flowing, and it’s not yet too hot for the could-be-brutal hike back out of the canyon.

This BLM trail leads from a parking lot near I-80 (in Colfax) down 1100 feet to the American River. It begins in a cool, dark, forest but soon transitions to sunny cliffsides covered in a mixture of wildflowers and shrubs. Highlights include a small falls and a CAVE (actually an old mine shaft entrance)! Views of the river tend to be obscured by low clouds in the morning, but that is a beautiful scene in its own right. (And the fog will have lifted by the time you make the hike back up.) The trail ends at the confluence of Secret Ravine Creek and the wild, green North Fork of the American River. After lunch, it’s time for the long walk out of the canyon.

I’ve only found two downsides to this trail. First, the lack of beaches along the river. Swimming is an all or nothing proposition: the rocky banks drop directly to either the depths or rapids. There is no wading option, other than a seasonal pool Jasper and I discovered downstream from the trail’s end. The other regrettable feature of Stevens Trail is the amount of trash along the river. There is evidence of 4 or 5 camps and all the garbage is left behind: tents, sleeping bags, cans, bottles, boxes, bags, etc. It’s disappointing to make the long trek down to the river only to find that someone else has spoiled the scene.

Still, I’d hike this trail, again. (In fact, this is the second time Jasper and I have made the trek.) It’s a wonderful walk.

Source: Evans, Stephen L. "Stevens Trail." Top Trails Sacramento. 4th ed. Birmingham: Wilderness, 2012. Print.

Length: 7 miles

Water: Nearly every seasonal stream was flowing and the North Fork was running strong.

Use: Moderate to heavy. According to the guidebook, this is “one of the most popular Sierra foothills hikes for Sacramentans.” I recommend starting the hike early (at 6 or 7 a.m.) for the prettiest light and lightest traffic.

Differences from published description: The book hints that the cave is dangerous. I explored it the first time and didn’t find any vertical shafts or drop-offs. It just peters out after about 20 yards.

Jasper’s rating: 4.5 paws out of 5.

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!

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