Caution: It’s still a bit treacherous out there for high country hikers

Spring Safety Tips. Yes, spring safety tips.

It is not a typical July in California’s Sierra Nevada. The snow pack is so dense that it’s like early May out there, but with July temperatures.

There’s a lot of snow out there. There’s so much snow that it’s still blocking access to some mid to high-elevation trailheads. And in the recent heat we’ve had, it’s melting fast. The snow will melt more readily on a south-facing slope, but then you turn around a little corner and the trail is gone. … And when you get to the snow, it gets deep really quickly,

The hazards are many. They’re out there every spring, but the hikers aren’t, at least not in great numbers. But with July and summer temps upon us, people want to get out and explore. This year, they’re finding downed trees, snow obscuring trails, slippery snowfields to cross, and very, very swollen rivers and creeks. Some streams are running so high that they cannot be crossed safely, and hikers need to be ready to turn around and call it a day if they encounter such conditions. Streamflows can increase as the day heats up, too.

Throughout the mountains, a particular danger is posed by “snow bridges,” where snow that typically might have melted by now covers a stream running underneath, making it “invisible” and capable of easily dropping you 10 to 15 feet into an icy torrent.

Hikers are advised to have good “route-finding skills” and to check updated trail conditions before starting out. They also should carry maps, compass and/or good GPS equipment, and know how to use it. Cellphones can be invaluable in an emergency, but hikers should not expect cellphone coverage in remote mountain areas.

As of July 4th Stanislaus National Forest Ranger Station in Hathaway Pines is not reporting closed trails, opting instead to put out appropriate advisories about the abundant snow on trails in the high country and relying on hikers themselves to take necessary precautions and preparations.

Cell phone service is spotty in the mountains, and that it can take several hours for Search and Rescue to arrive if called. You have got to be prepared to deal with an accident or injury without help for a lot longer than you think.

This is where we plead with you to remain alert. Please, please read our safety tips, even if you are an experienced hiker. Refresh your memory. Forward them to your hiker friends. Always carry the Ten Essentials. Brush up on your wilderness first aid skills.

Be over-prepared this year. Hike extra smart this year.

Event: Explore a possible new trail alignment — postponed for a warmer, drier day

We have postponed this event due to wet & cool weather. Stay tuned for a new date!

Biking along the North Fork of the Mokelumne River
                           — National Trail Days June 4th, co-sponsored with REI, Inc.

Description: Celebrate National Trails Days by joining REI and other like-minded explorers on a service trip to assess a possible route for the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail between Moore Creek campground and Tiger Creek Reservoir. This route is on a  series of roads passing through a rugged and wild section of the Upper Mokelumne River Canyon segment of the trail. We’ll travel along a mostly paved road suitable for a hybrid or cyclocross bicycle.  The route starts along the banks of the river at Moore Creek Trail head and gradually heads uphill 1400’ before gradually heading downhill to our destination at the Tiger Creek Reservoir and PG&E powerhouse picnic area. Along the way we’ll introduce you to the Mokelumne River’s land and water recreational opportunities, scenic canyon views, the route’s natural history, timber harvest history, and take in the river’s tremendous role delivering power and water to California and East Bay water customers.

How your National Trail Days participation benefits the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail:

  • Be the first to travel a possible new trail alignment in the Sierra Nevada
  • Document features & concerns
  • Offer your suggestions to the MCCT Trail Council

Length & Duration: 21.5 miles. We will meet up at 8am and begin our ride at 8:30am sharp. We expect several unscheduled stops along the way to comment, take notes and snap photos.

Age: 16 and up

Please bring a lunch, water and personal items & dress in layers. Additional driving and parking details provided after registration.

Make your reservation here!

Group Size: 25

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Required Legal Form:

This Trail Days event requires the participant to read and sign a liability release form before participating. You will need to print, sign and bring the form with you. Stay tuned for the form.

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A Kodak moment: MCCT opens for business in East Bay-Contra Costa

an early 1990s photo with Mt. Diablo in the background

Diablo Foothills Regional Park will always hold a special place in our collective MCCT heart — for it is the first of the East Bay Regional parks to publish their website map showing the MCCT passing through it. Learn more here.

We’re so thankful and excited travelers will soon be able to hike from Martinez or Berkeley to the Antioch Bridge or Brentwood, following MCCT trail signs for almost the entire way.

High Country Meadows trail: a nice day hike

Unlike our lower altitude trails in the Camanche-Pardee segment, this trail, at 7200′, is buried right now under mounds of snow. But it’s a great trail to visit in mid to late summer. A nice 9.2 mile round trip is in store for you, with a couple challenging ridges to conquer. A less challenging option is the meadow meander, offering plenty to occupy an explorer, a family with children, or birdwatcher.

 

a kiosk, one of several installed in the high country in 2010. Very sturdy!

 

This trail works as a day hike or as a jump off spot to head into the Mokelumne Wilderness (get a permit first before going). We’re thinking of calling it the High Country Meadows trail, but if you have a better suggestion, just holler. Details at the link.

Geo-tagged photos here.

New hiking trail to welcome in Spring

Come on out and enjoy a charming slice of the Coast to Crest Trail alongside the Mokelumne River near the tiny town known as Paloma in Calaveras County.

It’s called the James Bar Trail. Only .8 mile round trip from the trailhead, it is a very moderately sloped trail designed and built to accommodate mobility challenged hikers. Check it out here. We are carefully updating our website to include day hike pages with maps and descriptions. James Bar trail is on East Bay Municipal Utility District property, and requires trail permits. Details at the link.

Updating recreational trails near Contra Loma Recreation Area

Do you visit this park located in the East Bay Regional Park District? In the next couple months the MCCT alignment through this area will be signed. If you have any suggestions or concerns about trail use here, please consider reading this notice and attending the upcoming public workshop. Thanks!

From the East Bay Regional Park District website: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is preparing a Resource Management Plan (RMP) to guide future management of land and water resources for Contra Loma Reservoir and Recreation area. The East Bay Regional Park District manages recreation at the park under agreement with Reclamation. The Contra Costa Water District and the City of Antioch manage water and the Community Park under separate agreements.

Reclamation hosts its second RMP Development public workshop on Thursday, March 3, 6-8 PM at Prewett Family Park and Community Center (4701 Lone Tree Way, Antioch, CA 94531). Workshop participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the process and timeline for Contra Loma planning and environmental review
  • Understand how community input has helped inform the process to date
  • Provide input on possible future actions and how they relate to uses, including recreation
  • Identify opportunities for improving resource management and recreational experiences at Contra Loma

paperless flyer for this workshop

“This monster is destined to become a hiking masterpiece”

What an awesome quote from Dean Fleming’s Calaveras County’s Sierra Lodestar article on local hiking trails. Continue reading his report on three pages, here, here & here.

Have some free time? Take a hike

That’s the title of Dana Nichol’s January 2nd Stockton Record article, reporting on this beautiful location in Camanche/Pardee segment. Thank you Dana!

Mother nature prepares a feast for the eyes

All of this wintry, wet weather has us thinking about spring and wildflowers. We hope you enjoy these images from last year’s annual wildflower walk along the Longest Mile trail in the Camanche – Pardee segment, led by Steve Diers, Ranger & Naturalist with EBMUD.

Photos by Gary Hughes and Joel Metzger are available, we are waiting for link updates. Many thanks to Gary and Joel for taking these wildflower walk images.

This year’s Longest Mile Wildflower Walk is Saturday, April 9th.  See calendar for details and learn how to make a reservation to be on this guided walk.

A warm welcome to East Bay-Contra Costa County segment’s first map

The Trail Council is proud to introduce the first of many brochure maps defining the MCCT as it passes through East Bay Regional parkland in our East Bay-Contra Costa County segment. The map below is courtesy of the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD).

About ten years ago EBRPD completed the important first step of dedicating the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail by “piggybacking” it on existing EBRPD trails. Next up is completing maps and trail decals on existing EBRPD posts. We are indebted to Davio Santos, Operations Unit Manager, for leading the way on these last two important steps, scheduled to be complete in May, 2011. Interpretive map panels at strategic locations will follow. We also recognize Jim Townsend, EBMUD Planning Manager, and Beverly Lane, EBMUD Board member & co-founder of the Iron Horse Trail, one of the great Rail-to-Trail success stories in the nation. Beverly is also a 2010 recipient of California’s Trail Advocacy Award, awarded at the 20th American Trails National Symposium.

We will make EBRPD maps available here for MCCT travelers as EBRPD makes them available.