- Location: Sugar Pine Railway, Stanislaus National Forest, Strawberry, California
- Distance: 4.6 miles (out and back)
- Ascent: 1079 feet
- Difficulty: Easy
It’s funny how you can visit an area for years knowing about a trail right around the corner. I’ve been heading up to Strawberry to my family’s cabin for five years now, and it wasn’t until this last trip at New Years that we finally expanded our hiking area (maybe it was the lack of snow!) In my defense, I’ve always gravitated towards the nearby Pinecrest Lake trail, and when sticking close to home, we tended to walk the backroads and search for mushrooms.
Right before this trip, we were walking one of the roads when I saw a sign saying, “Do not enter, trail 300 feet ahead.” What? A trail? And lo and behold, 300 feet ahead, there were indeed trail markers and a well-defined (and well-used — am I really the last to know about this?) trail heading down the hill.
A couple weeks later, friends and I finally explored this new trail, which turned out to be the Sugar Pine Railway trail, where a railroad used to be and taken down in the ’70s.
(This is starting from my cabin — the trail really starts off of Old Strawberry Road nearby the rightmost pin.)
This was an unseasonably warm year, and so we hoped (and it looked like) the trail was clear. It headed down to the Stanislaus river, and follows it for quite a few miles.
Alas, the trail got icier and icier — this here wasn’t that big of a deal to navigate (and the dogs generally no issues)…
Until the trail completely iced over. The snow wasn’t soft and had no traction at all — the puddles in the middle weren’t wet, but instead were solid ice. Hiking turned into a wobbly crawl as we tried not to slip.
Eventually we stopped for our snacks we had packed for the hike, frustrated. Dogs had no issues, of course, and was ready for any dropped food.
Perhaps a bear track? What do you think?
We ended up turning around at the lunch spot and heading back up, after the trail seemed to get worse and worse the farther we went. But we’ll definitely attempt to walk the whole thing in summer (since really, we were hiking in January, I have no reason to be whining about the snow.) At least we now know about another new trail!