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If you’re looking for solitude amid the beautiful, rugged scenery of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this trail is for you. The Hull Creek segment of the Stanislaus National Forest’s Westside Rails to Trails route is off the beaten path, and it’s quite possible you’ll have the entire trail to yourself. Located in the heart of Stanislaus National Forest, the trail features numbered posts marking points of interest along the old West Side Lumber Company’s Hetch Hetchy & Yosemite Valley Railway. (At the Mi-Wok Ranger District office in Mi-Wok Village, you can pick up a brochure corresponding to the trail’s numbered posts, as well as maps of the trail and the general area.)
The trail is passable by mountain bike, but be prepared for a rough ride, including carrying your bike through washouts and over fallen trees. The trail is great for hiking, but it’s 9 miles one-way, so make sure you come prepared for the round-trip or arrange for a pickup. Bring a compass and a map, as finding the trailhead isn’t easy; in places, the railroad corridor itself is not obvious, even when you’re on it. Equestrian use is permitted on the entirety of the trail. You can drive a motocross vehicle/ATV (50 inches wide or less) on the road/trail until you reach Post 5, although there is no parking there.
The western endpoint officially begins 0.4 mile south of the crossing of Hull Creek and Forest Route 2N17, but it’s best to drive another mile south on FR 3N86 and park at Post 2, the site of an old logging camp (Camp 24) that was once a busy hub for the railroad. Here, several Forest Service roads—which may not appear on a road map—intersect. Once you park, head south on the trail, which follows FR 3N86.
At about 2.5 miles, you will reach Posts 4 and 5. Just beyond this point, the trail emerges into a meadow called Boney Flat. Post 11 marks the beginning of the Trout Creek Spur. The last mile of the trail has a moderately steep climb, then evens out as it approaches an intersection with FR 3N01 at Camp Clavey, an old railroad logging camp and remote U.S. Forest Service fire station. While little remains of the camp, several dispersed campsites with day-use parking are available.
For more adventure, head toward the Clavey River on a side trail from Post 11, near Buffalo Landing. The river makes for a great place to cool off during warm summer afternoons, but the real attraction is the old 75-foot Clavey River trestle. The trestle burned down long ago, but its foundation still remains, a testament to the rich railroad history of the Sierra Nevada.
Parking for the northeast end is available at Camp Clavey Road 3N56Y, off FR 3N01, just north of the Clavey River, 5 miles south of Hull Creek Campground and 15 miles southeast of Long Barn. Horse trailer parking is available.
Parking for the southwest end is available on FR 3N86, at the intersection of FR 2N03 and FR 2N31Y, near Post 2/Camp 24. Use the TrailLink map to create step-by-step directions and look for the (second, southern) intersection of FR 3N86 and FR 2N17. Start from Post 2 and head southeast on the trail. Horse trailer parking is available.
View the TrailLink map for detailed directions.
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