Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hiking the Western States Trail

Yesterday, I began my attempt to glut myself on amazing hiking during this trip to California.  Unfortunately, the closest national park trail system is inaccessible due to snow-induced road closures.  So sad.  But I found the Folsom State Recreation Area less than a half hour from our hotel.  This is very exciting because a portion of the Western States trail (the Pioneer Express trail) runs through here!  I don't know if the Western States 100 route includes this portion, but I love the idea that I might have walked some of the same steps as the ultra-runners who have competed in the race.

Pioneer Express Trail / Western States Trail Marker

I called the park service before heading out to find out which trail accesses were open, and found that Granite Bay on the west side of Lake Folsom was a good place to start.  I parked my car and found access to the trail near the rangers' horse stables.

Portion of the trail map through the Folsom SRA

The first mile or so that I hiked followed the edge of the park bordering private property, but soon after that the trail lost itself in much more wild territory.

On the first park of my hike

Pig and Cow consult the trail map at a juncture

I could hardly absorb enough of the trees, rocks, and hills that make up this northern California trail.

It was a lovely, solitary time.  I only encountered a trio of mountain bikers who whizzed by on a parallel trail, a runner with his dog, and a few park rangers on their horses - all female rangers, which I thought was neat.

Then suddenly, the trail came out of the woods and provided a view of Lake Folsom.  I hiked up and down the side of the mountain here curving around a portion of the lake for about a mile.

At about 5 miles out, I had to turn around in order to get back to my car in time to pick up the hubby at work.  I loved every moment of this hike and only wish that I could take in more than the tiny fraction of this trail that I was able to experience in a three-hour chunk.  Some day, I've got to plan a multi-day hiking excursion.

GPS track of my route

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