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Lower Ford of Summit City Creek to Camp Irene, Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
Lower Ford of Summit City Creek
Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
This page is the Backpacker's Forum page for your comments and links to basic information from the Tahoe to Yosemite trail guide page covering the Trail from the Lower Ford of Summit City Creek to Camp Irene.
Click here to post comments, or read on about this little segment of unmaintained trail. Links at the bottom of the page will also allow you to post comments and questions, or allow you to move North and South on these pages.
The Trail Guide page depicting the Lower Ford to Camp Irene has complete details on this segment of the trail.
The next trail Forum page to the South: Camp Irene up the North side of Mount Reba: The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail
In my opinion this little segment of our route from the Lower Ford of Summit City Creek South to Camp Irene is the trickiest segment of this whole unmaintained trail section.
Check it out on my topo map.
The unmaintained section spans from where we entered Summit City Creek, to where maintained trails begin again at Camp Irene. This unmaintained section from Summit City Creek to Camp Irene is the most difficult of the whole Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, and this upcoming last bit of the unmaintained route from the Lower Ford to Camp Irene is in my opinion the trickiest part of the whole unmaintained section.
Mileage: Lower Ford to Camp Irene: 2.07 miles. Deceptive miles, as the trail disappears when you enter the forest past the lower ford.
This is 2.07 miles on a route that for the most part does not exist. You must navigate yourself through most of this section. There are no effective ducks or blazes from your entry into the forest at the black pond, until you exit the Enchanted Forest.
Elevation Change: Moderate ups and downs for the whole 2 miles.
You climb out of the lower ford on a rocky path that loops around through light forest on solid rocky terrain. After a short time you will come upon and pass by a black pond to face a trackless forest that I call "The Enchanted Forest."
You must find you way Southwest through this trackless forest about a third of a mile down a gentle drainage into and across a densly forested flat. This forested flat is almost completely surrounded around its Western side by a rock wall that has a v-cut exit on its Southwest corner where a Spring time creek flows down to the N Mokelumne River.
The North Mokelumne River makes up the Eastern boundary of this flat, forested bowl.
The V cut slot in the Southwestern side of The Bowl is the only place where you can exit the Enchanted Forest. All else is folly, and will bring you nowhere.
The N Mokelumne River runs alongside white sand beaches with old growth forest growing up to the shoreline.
A stone's throw East across the Mokelumne River a five hundred foot sheer granite wall rises almost straight up, and behind this short face the sheer mountainside rises steeply for another 3000 feet . I hope you are not clastrophobic, because this is some dense territory, and you are closed in by both dense forest and sheer rock in the bowl section of The Enchanted Forest.
This is a stunningly beautiful place to camp if you are not set on reaching Camp Irene.
I call this bowl and this little bit of dense forest it sits within The Enchanted Forest. Once you find the crack in the Southwest side of the rock wall you will find a decently ducked trail that heads up to the trail junction with Munson Meadow, and continues South on to Camp Irene along fairly easy to follow paths.
Though not a high use trail, you will see that the trail coming in from Munson Meadow brings more traffic than you have seen along the Tahoe to Yosemite route since you turned South down Summit City Creek below Fourth of July Lake.
Once out of the Enchanted Forest and back onto hard rock, the trail is fairly well ducked, in some places you can follow the trail along the rock by following the burnish of many hooves and footsteps over many years. I've got to believe that this burnishing came from a period of very high traffic on these trails.
The last time these trails were busy was during the Silver Boom of the 1860s...But you will still run into sections were you will have to carefully observe the terrain to find the proper route.
So make sure you have the sufficient skills and fitness to hike this difficult section of the Tahoe to Yosemite Trail, and keep your eyes open all the time.
Past the Munson Meadow junction we start weaving our way South, to bring us through and around the features on the backside of the huge granite wall and dome that divides the flat part of the Enchanted Forest along the North Mokelumne River from the flat at Camp Irene just downriver. We have to go all the way around the backside of this monster feature.
The North Fork of the Mokelumne is forced through a steep and deep canyon between these two flats. This forces the trail route around the backside of the Western element of the massive terrain features which the North Mokelumne River funnels through, as it is not possible to follow the river through this narrow and steep section of the river course.
Though real pretty to look at, this gorge would be a real bummer to try to pass through.
Passing South across the river we will be entering the Stanislaus National Forest, and we will be remaining within the Mokelumne Wilderness until we cross the Mokelumne Wilderness Boundary that follows along the crestline above Highway 4, which is crowned by Mount Reba.
These are the relevant maps:
Where is this location?
On the Big Mokelumne Wilderness Backpacking Map: Carson Gap to Lake Alpine.
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The next trail Forum page to the South
Camp Irene up the North side of Mount Reba: The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail