If you venture further upcountry on Highway 88 around the corner from the Carson Pass Information Station, you’ll come across Hope Valley to the East of Carson Pass. From adventurous hikers to snowshoers and cross-country skiers, this spot has been a favorite of outdoors lovers of all types since its discovery in the 1840s.
After living for 40 years in Amador County, Mother-Rucker Dave Gebauer made the scenic drive to the 7,000-foot-elevation to check out Hope Valley’s Crater Lake for the first time.
The Hope Valley Wildlife Area, which is a protected wildlife refuge area, includes more than 2,700 acres of land open to backpackers, hikers and fishermen alike. The pristine, mountainous, high-desert-like terrain throughout is ideal for a hike – particularly, the Crater and Scotts lakes trails.
“It’s pretty spectacular up here and there’s a nice 2½-mile trail which follows the mountainside and climbs up to about 8,500 feet,” Gebauer said. “I’m hiking on the trail to Crater Lake and it’s stunning; there are these huge boulders everywhere, the snow is melting, the mountain is your guide.”
Dave is hiking along the Crater Lake Trailhead, which is located just more than a mile west of the turnoff for Blue Lakes Road. The hike has an elevation gain of about 1,200 feet, climbing from 7,400 feet to 8,650 feet.
The less-steep route to Scotts Lake starts in the same place as the Crater Lake hike and leads to the right for 3 miles; or, begin at 1 mile east of Blue Lake Road for an alternate path to the trail with an elevation gain of approximately 600 feet.
When finished with his high-altitude solo hike, rucksack in tow, Dave kicked up his feet and took a break in his portable camping hammock in the Hope Valley Wildlife Area alongside the river feeding Crater Lake.
“The hammock, a Lazy Monk, weighs 4 pounds – and that doesn’t sound like a lot until you’re carrying a 50-pound rucksack on your back, walking up a mountain at 6,000-foot elevation,” he laughed. “It adds up fast, a pound here, a few there … pretty soon, you’re going through your pack to see what you can take out because it’s just too much weight. When I don’t take the Monk, I miss it, and it’s always worth it when I bring it. There’s nothing better than taking a siesta in a hammock after a long hike!
“Sometimes you just have to get away and Hope Valley has been a place of peace and resolve for me for years. It’s beautiful year-round and you can often come across fellow hikers and people exploring the outdoors. And who doesn’t need a little Hope right now?”
For more information about Hope Valley, including its trails and permitted activities, visit carsonpass.com/places/hope_valley.