This last week I walked the American Discover Trail (ADT) segment 3 from French Meadows to Michigan Bluff. My main purpose was to get a GPS track that I had missed and messed up before, and I succeeded in that, see below. This was the second part of a backpack trip into the Granite Chief Wilderness, and I did not have any ADT information with me, so I was going on memory to find the trail. I did. I have to admit a few sections did not look all that familiar, but the junctions did.
The trail is much better marked than it used to be, not as the ADT, but as the Western States Trail, particularly from Robinson Flat to the west, which is the route of the Tevis Cup horse race and Western States foot race. New signposts have been placed at nearly every trail junction, and several places along the trail.
After walking out of the Granite Chief Wilderness at Picayune Valley, I started this segment at Lewis Campground with is on French Meadows Reservoir, walked a short ways in to Poppy Campground and spent the night. The next day was the long day, 27 miles, and I was pretty tired.
The official ADT routes includes a section on Barney Cavanah Ridge, from T30170 to T30175, that I strongly recommend you skip. The first part is very steep and eroding, then it crosses a huge logging deck with no indication about which way to go, then it heads down a long ridge that would be OK if not for the hundreds of small trees down across it. Instead, just continue on Forest Road 44. It is longer and boring, but not frustrating. I doubt this this section was ever part of the historical Western States Trail, as it swings so far north of its destination of Last Chance Ridge. I don’t have any information about the historical route, but the parts still in use are much more direct that this. Don’t miss getting water at Deep Canyon Creek, as there may not be any other sources until North Fork of the Middle Fork American River.
I camped beside the North Fork at the suspension bridge. There is very little flat ground here, just a small sandy beach, but it is a special place to be. Next day, up to the ridge. There is a pump handle at about T30270, where the trail joins the road. It may really be from a tank and not a well, as a well on top of a ridge seems unlikely, but nevertheless, a source not to be passed up. The trail then drops gradually to Eldorado Stream, where there is ample camping space if you want that. And then up the ridge, again, to Michigan Bluff. This section is shadier than I thought it would be, so not bad on the hot morning.
My muscles were ready for the remaining six miles into Foresthill, but my feet were not, so I hitched a ride, had a beer at the Mtn Club, and then hitched the rest of the way into Auburn for the Capitol Corridor train home.
ADT-CA-3: gpx | kml (Notes: These links are subject to change. The track is a combination of my GPS track and waypoints from the ADT Society, with a considerable number of corrections. For an unknown reason the elevation data was lost from a section of the track, so you can’t make a profile of the track. Someday… I’ll have a perfect track.)
Photos on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157697258055121 (few photos because I was preserving my phone battery for GPS)
For earlier ADT posts, see https://allisondan.blog/tag/adt/. I first hiked this segment in July 2012, repeated it once but apparently did not post on that trip, and also walked from Auburn to Eldorado Stream once.