“Segment of the Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail features river access and historic remains built during the gold rush.”
— Cheyenne Dolin
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Parking area at Middle Bar is small.
The trail parallels the Mokelumne River for about 1.7 miles, allowing opportunities to take a break along this quiet and scenic section. It continues at a gradual incline, where you can catch glimpses of the river as you climb above it. Along the way, you can spot work on gulches engineered by past ranchers. Stone wall ruins and evidence of placer mining is visible as one reaches the top of the climb and the trail again levels out.
Continuing on, away from the highway, is a spectacular view of the surrounding foothills. Proceed down a steep decline and reconnect to the beginning of the trail loop.
Need to Know
See EBMUD website for trail permit. There are portapotties and picnic tables at/near the trailhead. No bicycles or dogs allowed. Equestrian use is permitted but there is no trailer parking at the trailhead. Make sure to close all cattle gates behind you—and don't be surprised to see some cattle grazing along the trail!
Excellent trail to run on. In fact, there are singletrack 50km races on this trail each year.
Please note: A permit is required to use this trail. Permits can be purchased online on the East Bay Municipal Utility District website for $10 a year or $20 for three years. Sign in is required at the trailhead to monitor use and rangers will check permits.
The trailhead is at the Middle Bar Take Out. From Jackson, drive south on Hwy 49 for a half mile beyond Broadway, turn west (right) on Middle Bar Road, and continue 2.7 miles to the parking lot. From Hwy 26, drive to Paloma, turn north onto Gwinn Mine Road (this is a narrow rough road), drive down the canyon to the Mokelumne River and cross the Middle Bar Bridge, a distance of 3.3 miles.
This beautiful and lightly-trafficked trail is best done clockwise, following the first two forks left up Jackass Gulch. The first 1.7 miles parallel the river and are mostly shaded. Then the trail gradually climbs the foothills, until reaching Independence Flat, and then descending a steep hill back towards the river. Follow the Coast to Crest Trail
signs and you'll be fine.
Flora & Fauna
Black oak, live oak, blue oak, grey pine, manzanita, buckeye, toyon, and blackberries are the predominant plants. Beware of poison oak! Pheasants, jays, red tail hawks, white tail deer, bobcats, and if you're lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective) a mountain lion are all animals you might spot along the trail.
History & Background
The area has been, and still is, used by ranchers since the 1850s. It was also an area of mining activity.