Lower Ford of Summit City Creek to Camp Irene, Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 13 December 2010

 Lower Ford of Summit City Creek
 Camp Irene,
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

  The next trail Forum page to the North:  Backpacking Summit City Creek: The Lower Ford to the Granite


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.

Basic Facts

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.

Miles and Elevations Page for Carson Gap to Lake Alpine


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."
Unmaintained/no trail across the "Enchanted Forest" North of Camp Irene.


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.

Remember, this whole route from the Summit City Creek Junction below Fourth of July Lake to Camp Irene is unmaintained trail, and backpacking itself is dangerous on normally maintained trails.

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.

The North Fork of the Mokelumne River is the boundary between the EL Dorado National Forest to the North and the Stanislaus National Forest to the South.

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.

On the Small, detailed 15 min Backpacking Map: Telephone Gulch to the Lower Ford

 On the Large, detailed 15 min Backpacking Map: Fourth of July Lake to Mount Reba

El Dorado National Forest, trail guide.
Mokelumne Wilderness, NF website.
The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Register so you can post your pictures and videos of this location, or click through the comments link below to post your text comments and questions. You can also navigate North and South  to the rest of the comments-facts pages for this trail section through the links below.


The next trail Forum page to the South
Camp Irene up the North side of Mount Reba: The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

The next trail Forum page to the North
Backpacking Summit City Creek: The Lower Ford to the Granite Flat

i was at camp irene in the summer of 2007 and built the bark and log table with a few buddies. it is cool to see photos on the web and know that people are enjoying it
Alex Wierbinski's picture

Hey bro, I seriously thought someone had stacked me up some firewood for a nice bonfire!! (he-he, just kidding...)

I knew it was a group op! Did you guys come in from 88 or 4? I've run through there N & S on the TYT (through Summit City over Reba), but I've never come over from 88.

If you got any images of you and the boys at Camp Irene, post em up, along with a few words about the route, and the nature of your trip...

This note is in the Carson Pass to Lake Alpine Forum, and it could use a "Side Trip: Camp Irene" Forum Topic, Trail Note, or Trip Notes.

Alex Wierbinski

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system

Text Translations

Flag icon for 'de' languageFlag icon for 'it' languageFlag icon for 'ru' languageFlag icon for 'fr' languageFlag icon for 'es' languageFlag icon for 'pl' languageFlag icon for 'no' languageFlag icon for 'fi' languageFlag icon for 'da' languageFlag icon for 'ro' language

Get the Latest from Tahoe to Whitney

Syndicate content

Support Tahoe to Whitney

The Tahoe to Whitney Trail Guide and Magazine are walked, written, funded, and supported by my efforts, with the help of kindred spirits and my sister.

We offer valuable Trail Guide, Skills, Weather, News and Analysis.

My goal is to get you out to see your natural and social potential. Help me keep this unique resource accessible and expanding towards its potential. We've a lot of miles to cover ahead...

If you feel these efforts are valuable, I'm cordially inviting you to support them, here:



I am currently working towards publishing the completed guide between Tahoe & Yosemite as an e-book, while converting this "blog" to a fine magazine format. You will like the results! Help Tahoe to Whitney reach its potential!


Why Support Tahoe to Whitney?
Mission Statement