The American River Conservancy purchased about 10,000 acres of private land in 2015, and some of these lands were added to the Granite Chief Wilderness. As a stewardship project before the lands were turned over to the Forest Service, old logging roads in the new area were put to sleep or rehabilitated. Drainage and creek crossings were returned to their natural contours, and the road edge was removed in many places, leaving only space for a trail.
The Tevis Trail (also called the Tevis Cup Trail, and incorrectly, the Western States Trail – though the Western States trail run occurs on this trail, it never was the historic Western States Trail, which went through Picayune Valley) was realigned in the western portion, removing it from the heavily eroded logging roads to create an actual trail. The logging road from the Forest Hill Divide saddle to the trail (where the green gate used to be, if you remember) was turned into a trail. The trailhead for this trail is now the saddle, where a road comes up from the Soda Springs side of the divide, the North Fork of the American River. I created a track for the new trail alignment, available at http://bit.ly/GCW_TevisTrail. The old alignment is shown on a jpeg map.
I’m disappointed at the design of the new trail that is not on the old logging road alignment. There are lazy looping switchbacks, at many of which the trail actually descends into the turn and then descends out of it (from the perspective of going up hill). See the diagram below, from my journal. Each of these locations will end up as a user cut-across of the switchback. Switchbacks should have climbing turns, where the trail is at no point closer to the other trail leg than at the turn. In addition, several stretches of trail are completely flat, which is remarkable given the elevation the trail must gain. I don’t know who is responsible for the trail design, but it was not done correctly. I was a trail crew foreman and trail construction instructor for the Forest Service for a number of years, and I know my trail construction techniques. Ah well, it will get corrected some day, and in the meanwhile it is much better than it was before, which was steep, eroded, rocky logging roads.
The new Talbot Trail mostly follows the alignment of the old logging road that used to connect the saddle to Talbot Campground area. Again, the roadbed was rehabilitated to a trail. Unfortunately, a lower segment that was pulled off the logging road has the same issue of lazy looping switchbacks that the Tevis Trail has. The trail comes out onto Forest Road 51 in a still open but very rough road section, where there is a Granite Chief Wilderness sign but no trail sign, then goes to the still maintained part of FR 51, which connects with the French Meadows Road going to Talbot Campground. It is unfortunate that trail energy was expended on the switchbacks when it could have been expended getting the trail closer to Talbot Campground. Again, someday, the trail will get to the campground without having to walk on hot ugly roads. The Talbot Trail track is available at http://bit.ly/GCW_TalbotTrail. This includes the portion on FR 51, which starts about where the last crossing of Talbot Creek is shown.
The cabin that used to be along the Tevis Trail is gone, with almost no trace of it remaining. I wasn’t even sure I was looking at the right place before I was able to compare photos after the trip. I understand why the Forest Service would want it gone, as it is an attractive nuisance and fire hazard, but it is still sad to see old cabins go, and the history they represent along with it. I do not know how old the cabin was.
I am making progress on my project to put all the trails, trailheads, and junctions into GaiaGPS for easier use, but it won’t be until after the summer backpacking season that I finish that and post on it.
Photos on Flickr (includes the entire 10 day backpack, not just the Tevis and Talbot trails): https://www.flickr.com/photos/allisondan/albums/72157710021027427.