Weekend Hike: South Side Trail, Folsom Lake

South Side Trail near Folsom Lake.
South Side Trail near Folsom Lake. rpench@sacbee.com

So, a week or so ago, we ventured back to the south side of Folsom Lake for a pleasant jaunt and to check out just how depleted the lake has become.

Good news – or, at least, not as bad as we thought – the lake is no longer the parched, exposed shell of itself that it was in the early fall when TV crews were doing flyovers to illustrate the severity of California’s drought. OK, so it’s still a tad low, but there’s sparkling water to ogle as you traverse the single-track.

Your weekend hike: South Side Trail, Brown’s Ravine, Folsom Lake

Distance: 12 miles, one way (or shorter; it’s an out-and-back; up to you)

Directions: Take Highway 50 to the El Dorado Hills Boulevard Exit. Go west to Green Valley Road. Turn left. Enter the Brown’s Ravine entrance to the Folsom State Recreation Area. After the guard shack (Parking is $10), turn right and climb a short distance to the trailhead/assembly area. If starting from Old Salmon Falls, take El Dorado Hills Boulevard, which turns into Salmon Falls Road after Green Valley. At about four miles, turn left into a dirt lot with the sign “Falcon Crest.” Take a paved road downhill a few hundred yards to the Old Salmon Falls staging area. It is closed for the winter, so park in the dirt lot and walk down to the trailhead. Most people start from Brown’s Ravine.

Highlights: Try not to look at the mansions that run near the first part of the trail. In a while, you’ll be tree-shrouded and cruising either single- or double-track trails that undulate. No major climbs, but the rolling hills add up.

Route: From the Brown’s Ravine trailhead, follow the markers with icons of a hiker and a horse that appear every half-mile. There are, however, several unmarked trail junctions. At 1.5 miles, go left at the unmarked fork. At 2.4 miles, veer right uphill. At 2.8 miles, go straight at the fork and then cross a gravel road to resume the trail. At 3.5 miles, go left at a fork. When you reach a large meadow at 3.8 miles, keep veering left, away from the road and head uphill. There are no significant unmarked forks for the rest of the trek. Have someone with a car meet you at Old Salmon Falls or return to Brown’s Ravine for a 24-mile trek.

Call The Bee’s Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.

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