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Assassin's Trail

Click to view detailed version
Click to view detailed version.

Special Note:

The trailhead for Assassin's Trail, along with the closest parking area, is located on a strip of private land that follows the ridgeline, adjacent to Boole road and Cerro Vista road. The trail quickly departs the private portion and traverses public lands controlled by BLM.

Trails leading from this trailhead are under constant pressure from four-wheelers and dirt bikers. Concerned about liability issues, fire hazards and trash problems, the property owner has attempted over the years to block entry to motorized users. All efforts, including gates, posts and concrete barriers, have been largely ineffective -- the targeted users have simply forged new paths around every barrier.

Most recently, very large No-Trespassing signs have been erected near the main entry points. In conversations with the lawyers representing the landowner, it is apparent that walkers, mountain bikers and equestrians are not considered to be part of the problem. Accordingly, the best advice MVTA can offer is that legitimate recreational, non-motorized use will not prompt an enforcement action.

Recreational use of this trail, as with all others listed on this website, is at the user's own risk. If you encounter anyone who claims you are trespassing or suggests you should not use the trail, please report the event at once to the MVTA Trails Coordinator.

Where did the name come from?

It's a reference to an unsolved murder that took place adjacent to this trail. The County Sheriff still lists it as a "cold case." The victim was one Matthew Bosek, caretaker and employee of the Esoteric Fraternity in Applegate. Bosek, in his 70s, was shot and killed in August of 1973, while working in a hillside garden that overlooks the North Fork American River canyon. This trail passes the now-abandoned garden.

The trail today is better remembered for its quiet beauty and excellent views into the canyon.


This trails follows the western slope of the American River's North Fork a few hundred feet below the ridgeline. The trail is one of the most beautiful in the region and is also one of the easiest to access. Views from the trail take in breathtaking vistas of the wild and scenic river hundreds of feet below.


Assassin's Trail is multi-use. The first mile is also used by dirt bikes and ATVs, but remains in good condition. To avoid causing erosion, steep sections of this and adjoining trails should not be used during the rainy season (usually mid-November thru mid-April.)


The first section of this trail is an old wagon road that follows the contours of the canyon with only gradual changes of elevation. This section of the route is easy to hike or ride. The footing is even and mostly free of rocks. For those who choose to continue, though, there is a steep uphill section of about 1/2 mile, beginning about two miles in. This more difficult single-track section then joins another wagon road. From there, the going is once again easy for the remaining two miles until it connects with the Heather Glen Trail area.

Map Notes:

Click on the map above to view a detailed version. The trailhead is marked by a green star. Driving access is via Boole Road from the I-80 Applegate exit, top left.. The parking locations are shown to the south and southwest of the trailhead.

Trail Description:

Overview: Except for one steep climb on a single-track trail about 2 miles in, this trail is a wagon road with very little altitude variation.

Trailhead: The saddleback area is on the rim of the canyon. There is no trail signage, so here is what to look for: From the Cerro Vista Road parking area, follow the dirt roadway north, up and over the hill and down to the saddleback area, about 1/4 mile. From the saddleback, there are trails in five directions:

  1. South: This is the trail you arrived on, coming from the Cerro Vista Road parking area, 1/4 mile away.
  2. East: The Upper Clementine Trail is the wide graded road that heads downhill.
  3. Northeast: This is the Assassin's Trail, initially a single-track trail that is sometimes partly obscured by brush, but it promptly widens into a wagon road.
  4. West: A short dirt road connects to Boole Road about 300 ft away. There is no parking available on this roadway or on Boole Road itself.
  5. North: A wide dirt road follows the ridgeline steeply uphill. This trail is mostly used by dirt bikers and other motorized vehicles. It ends about a mile away at a locked gate.

Trail Course:

Follow the wagon road for about two miles. The continuation of the trail is a single track that winds its way uphill for about a half mile. If you continue on the wagon road instead of the uphill trail, it ends at a point of land after about a half mile, with only limited views of the canyon.

The single track climb T's into another wagon road. The Assassin's Trail route continues to the right.

About a half mile on, there is a fork in the trail. Take the left fork to pass above the Assassin's Garden area. (The right fork is an alternative route that passes below the garden. Both trails link up farther on.)

About 200 yards past the garden, there is a natural year-round spring on the uphill side of the trail, denoted on the map by the circle-w symbol. The water is suitable for pets and stock animals only.

Another 1/4 mile or so and you will pass the back gate to the Esoteric Publishing Society's property. This gate is kept locked, but MVTA members can use this access to the Asassin's Trail and the Society's interior trails and parking if they have an ID badge and key. (Contact the MVTA Trails Coordinator for information.)

About 1/4 mile from the Esoteric gate, the two branches of the trail rejoin. This is generally where you will start heading back to the trailhead, via one trail branch or the other.

Extended Route: The wagon road does continue, however, to the Heather Glen Trail area, with access to Codfish Creek canyon and the American River.


Cougar habitatThis trail traverses Cougar Habitat. Cougar sightings are rare, but use good sense: Do not walk or ride this trail alone. Keep small children and pets close at hand.

Poison Oak grows along much of this trail and hangs out into the trail in places.

Drinking Water must be carried with you. Creek and river water are not safe for human consumption, no matter how clean it looks. Drink it only in an emergency and consult a doctor afterwards.

Directions to the trailhead:

  • From I-80, take the Applegate exit and follow the overpass road East to where it T's into Applegate Road.
  • Go left onto Applegate Road; the road passes through a one-lane tunnel under the railroad.
  • Take an immediate right after the tunnel onto Boole Road. Boole Road is narrow and has poor shoulders, so drive with care. There is a dirt access road to the trailhead about 1.5 miles along this road, on your left. There is no signage, so don't be surprised if you miss it. Parking at the trailhead is discouraged: The short dirt road to the trailhead, about 300 ft. away, is generally in very poor condition. Use one of the parking alternatives described next.

Recommended Parking: There are two good parking locations nearby. Continue on Boole Road past the trailhead access road to where the pavement forks. Cerro Vista Road to your left; Boole Road continues to your right.

  • Cerro Vista Road: Go left at the fork; less than a quarter mile up the hill is a flat dirt area to your left. There is room for several cars or a couple of horse trailers in the flat area. From here, you can reach the trailhead by taking the graded road that follows the ridgeline.
  • Boole Road: Go right at the fork; about 1/2 mile down, you will cross a cattle guard. About 100 yards farther is a large triangular flat area between where the paved roadway sweeps to the right and a dirt wagon road continues straight. This area is private property, but the ranch owners are friendly. Horseback riders should be aware that it is no longer possible to skirt the cattle guard as you proceed between this parking area and the trailhead.

MVTA tries to assure the accuracy of the trails information presented,
but can make no claims to such. Please let us know if any entries are incorrect.

Email your comments or questions to our Trails Coordinator.