West Side Rails (Hull Creek to Clavey River)

California

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West Side Rails (Hull Creek to Clavey River) Facts

States: California
Counties: Tuolumne
Length: 9 miles
Trail end points: Forest Service Road 3N86 (Hull Creek) and Forest Service Road 3N01 (Camp Clavey)
Trail surfaces: Ballast, Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6250742

West Side Rails (Hull Creek to Clavey River) Description

If you're looking for quiet solidarity amid the beautiful, rugged scenery of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this trail is for you. The Hull Creek segment of the West Side Railway line is certainly off the beaten path, and it's quite possible you'll have the entire trail to yourself. Make sure to bring a good map and your sense of adventure, as finding the trailhead isn't easy and in places the railroad corridor itself isn't obvious even when you're on it.

The trail is passable by mountain bike but be prepared for a rough ride. You'll also need to carry your bike through the trail's several washouts and over fallen trees on the trail. The trail is great for hiking, but it's 8 miles one-way, so make sure you come prepared and arrange for a pick-up.

The trail begins near Hull Creek, in the heart of Stanislaus National Forest. As with the Sugar Pine Railway Trail, interpretive signs about the railroad history are posted along the Hull Creek trail. At the Mi-Wok Ranger District office in Mi-Wok Village, you can pick up a brochure that corresponds to the tour signs. You will want to pick up a map while you are there: one of the trail and one of the general area.

Park and begin at Signpost 2, site of Camp 24, which was once a busy hub for the railroad. At about 2.5 miles, you will reach posts 4 and 5, which point out various relics from the railroad's past. Just beyond this point, the trail emerges into a meadow called Boney Flat. Post 11 marks the Trout Creek Spur, which will lead you to the trail's endpoint at Camp Clavey. This last section, about 1 mile long, climbs steeply then evens out as it approaches the intersection with Forest Road 3N01 at Camp Clavey.

For more adventure, you can take a side trail to the old Clavey River Trestle before the trail leads you up toward Camp Clavey, At post 11 near Buffalo Landing, head toward the river (right) on a side trail. A 75-foot trestle once stood here and burned down long ago. Its foundation still remains though, a testament to the rich railroad history of the Sierra Nevada.

Parking and Trail Access

To the Hull Creek trailhead from State Route 108 in Long Barn, turn east off the highway at the Merrell Springs turnoff, where there are signs for Hull Creek and Clavey River. Turn right (south) onto Long Barn Road and go 0.1 mile to Forest Service Road 3N01 (also known as 31 and North Fork Rd.). Follow 31, cross the North Fork of the Tuolumne River at 2 miles, then continue for 6.3 miles to Forest Service Road 3N07, where you will see a sign for West Side Rail Tour.

Turn right (south) on Forest Service Road 3N07, continue for about 3 miles to an intersection. Stay on 3N07, which leads to a second road fork at 0.1 mile. Turn left (east) here onto Forest Service Road 3N86. The trail begins near the Hull Creek crossing, but we recommend driving for another mile to post 2 (the site of Camp 24), where more parking is available and several forest service roads intersect. The trail is Road 3N86, and you can drive a vehicle on the road/trail until you reach post 5 on the tour, although there is no parking there.

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