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Empire Creek Trail is a difficult 2.5 mile trail at an elevation of 4,820 feet. This trail follows the contour of Empire Creek Canyon through a setting of magnificent old growth timber and is a beautiful area to explore. Wildflowers, wildlife, and birdlike abound. After a moderated and steadily climbing hike of approximately 2 miles, the valley opens and provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area. After another 0.5 miles the maintained trail ends at a saddle. This saddle is an ideal area for picnicking and simply enjoying the tranquility of nature.

Hikers looking for a challenge will see Rattle Snake Peak just 0.4 miles away. The additional 460 foot climb should be made from the northeast. Exercise care when climbing through the loose volcanic rock formation of the actual peak. The view from the top is spectacular, with Mount Lasses, Mount Shasta, Mount Rose and the Sierra Buttes as the dominant peaks.

Hikers who can arrange transportation can connect at the end of the trail with the Chimney Rock Trail. This is an interesting and rewarding additional to the hike. For details see the description for Chimney Rock Trail.

Directions: From Downieville, On Upper Main Street, proceed through the historic town of Downieville for approximately 0.5 miles past the town post office. Cross the Downie River bridge and continue 4.2 miles to a well-defined road fork. Take the left fork (marked Dead End), passing under the tall gates marked "Empire Ranch." Continue 2 miles to a sharp 180 degree turn in the road. At this point there is a sign reading "Red Oak Road" and "Empire Creek Trail" pointing to the narrow road on the right. Take this narrow road 1.6 miles to to Red Oak Creek. From this point it is another 0.7 mile to the trailhead. Crossing Red Oak Creek without a four wheel-drive can become quite an unwanted adventure and is not recommended! Hikers without a four wheel-drive vehicle are encouraged to park here and hike to the trailhead.

Elevation: 4,820 feet

Ending Elevation: 6,760 feet

Elevation Gain: 1,940 feet

Difficulty: Strenuous

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Tahoe National Forest, California

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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