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Passing through California’s historic Gold Rush country, the El Dorado Trail runs more than 35 miles from Camino west to the line between El Dorado and Sacramento counties, just south of Folsom. It follows two former rail lines, the Southern Pacific Railroad and Michigan-California Railroad, and is designed to accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians.
The rail-trail is a work in progress. Between Camino and Diamond Springs, where the trail winds through the Sierra Nevada foothills, it is largely paved. For the remainder—from El Dorado westward—the trail has a natural dirt surface, often with the original the tracks and ties still intact.
A small section of those tracks are still in use. The El Dorado County Historical Museum operates excursion trains on the El Dorado Western Railroad on Sundays between the Shingle Springs Depot (4241 Mother Lode Drive) and the El Dorado Station (6000 Oriental Street).
In Placerville, one can easily hop off the trail to enter downtown and enjoy the historical buildings and charms of an old gold-rush town. Between Placerville and Diamond Springs, a highlight of the trail is the breathtaking Weber Creek trestle that dates back to 1903 and towers about 100 feet above the creek.
Farther west, trail-goers can shore up in Shingle Springs, where amenities can be found along Mother Lode Drive with several restaurants within a few blocks. On the south side of the street is Bradford Park, which offers restrooms and covered picnic areas.
From Shingle Springs to the county line, the views are pure wild west, where goats and cattle roam alongside the trail.
Future possibilities include extending the trail farther east from Camino to the Lake Tahoe Basin along the old Pony Express Trail.
On the east end of trail, parking is available in the Placerville area:
On the west side of the trail, parking is available in Shingle Springs. There is a gravel parking lot in Bradford Park (4300 Motherlode Drive).
In selfishness, I wouldn't write about this trail, because I wouldn't want to have to share it with anyone else. But I just have to say, riding this trail from the Placerville Station east to the end of the paved portion is a neat, tidy, beautiful workout, which you can fit into less than an hour start to end. It's only something like 4.9 miles each way, but going eastward, it probably averages about a 6% grade, I would guesstimate. It's just a pure, honest workout riding east, if you push it, and then the return trip is an excellent reward. It's a pleasure to ride on my Trek hybrid.
There are now 3 parking areas for the El Dorado Trail on the class one sections.
1) Missouri Flat Road (Placerville/Diamond Springs) – From U.S. Highway 50, exit Missouri Flat Rd. and go south. The parking is just past Walmart on the left, next to Sierra Door & Supply. Parking in Sierra Door & Supply’s parking area is illegal. If the parking lot is full, please park at Walmart. The businesses on the same side of the street near the trail also allow parking in designated areas.
2) The Bus Station on Mosquito Rd (Placerville) – From U.S. Highway 50, take the Broadway exit. Heading east, turn right and go back under the freeway. Heading west, you can make a right into the parking area. There is paved and dirt parking presently available.
3) Camelia Lane (Placerville to Camino section) - This is also referred to as the Jacquier Parking. From U.S. Highway 50, exit Point View Drive and go north, continuing on Jacquier Road (the main road.) You will see the sign for the El Dorado Trail on your right at the corner of Jacquier Road and Camelia Lane. There is room for horse trailers.
A GPS track of the single track portion of the unimproved trail along the railroad tracks, along with additional info, is available here:
This trail has a breathtaking railroad trestle that crosses Weber Creek and is about 100 feet above the ground. From the trestle you have a spectacularl view of the surrounding California foothills countryside and the meandering creek. On a bright spring day you will be rewarded with birds singing, flowers blooming and bicyclists, walkers and runners and the occasional equestrian. The fall is a wonderful time to visit for the fall colors and the nearby apple orchards. Any time is a good time to come to El Dorado County and visit 30+ wineries making superb, award winning wines. Many of the wineries can be reached by bicycle and are just a few miles from downtown Placerville.
This section of the trail is the newest addition to the El Dorado Trail. The Forni Road to Missouri Flat segment is a 2.64 mile long multi-use paved trail. After you finish walking or biking the newest section of the trail, go into downtown Placerville (you can take the trail to Forni Road and zoom into town) and enjoy this charming old gold-rush town. Don't forget to visit the historic buildings and enjoy the great shops and restaurants in downtown. If you still want more bicycling, The El Dorado Trail continues for another 4.6 miles east (paved). Check out the trail maps for more information on access points for the trail.
See the trail maps and more information at http://www.trailsnow.org/maps.htm
For information on visiting the farms and orchards in the area go to http://www.edc-farmtrails.org/ProductDirectory.html
For information on visiting the wineries go to http://www.eldoradowines.org/wineries.html
Parking at Transit Depot, ( N38.73299 W120.78924 ). Uphill to the Curved Overpass over Hwy 50 is as far as I rode. Well used trail and interesting tunnel. Shade the first 1.8 mile, 0.6 along noisy Hwy 50. Use Jacquier Rd to large parking lot at Trail head ( N38.73640 W120.75436 ) Some open space then trail returns to Curved Overpass over Hwy 50. Noel Keller 30 Apr 09
"Out of towners, like us, found the directions a bit confusing because if you are approaching Placerville from the east there are two Broadway exits. If you take the first one (Smith Flat School Road and Broadway), turn right and go a half block to Smith Flat Road. Turn left on Smith Flat and go about three blocks to Jacquier Road. Turn right. In less than 100 yards, you'll find a tiny parking lot (3 spaces) at the trailhead of the segment heading west toward Mosquito Road. If you continue on Jacquier another 1/4 mile, you'll find a large parking lot with a rest room. This new trail segment heads east.
If you get off Hwy 50 at the western Broadway exit westbound, you exit right on to Mosquito Road. Turn right to find the large transit system parking lot on your right in about two blocks. The trailhead is across the street. Coming from the west, you exit onto Broadway, turn right (West) one block to Main, turn right on Main and cross under Hwy 50 where it runs into Mosquito. Bear right on Mosquito and go two blocks to trailhead.
After wandering around lost for a while since we came in from the east, we finally found the tiny parking lot on Jacquier (after passing the big one but not seeing the sign). We headed west toward Mosquito Road. We had a very pleasant walk on Thanksgiving morning, 2006. There were a lot of people out wearing off a few calories before their Turkey day celebratio and the weather was ideal. This is an execellent neighborhood trail."
"The first three miles or so are paved and incredible to ride with a mild grade the entire way. There are plans to extend the trail from the county line with Sacramento to the beautiful logging town of Camino.
Once fully completed, this will allow bikers to ride from Old Sacramento to Camino on trails, a distance of 50+ miles!"
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