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Upper Clementine Trail

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Special Note:

The trailhead for Upper Clementine 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 incident at once to the MVTA Trails Coordinator.


This trail decends the western slope of the American River's North Fork canyon. It is one of the most beautiful in the region and also the easiest to access. Views from the trail take in breathtaking vistas of the wild and scenic river hundreds of feet below.

Map Notes:

Click on map shown to view the full-size version. The trailhead is by the green star; the parking locations are shown as circle-P icons to the south and southwest of the trailhead. Access to Boole Road is from the Applegate exit from I-80, top left.


Upper Clementine Trail is multi-use. The upper half is also used by trail bikes and other motorized off-highway vehicles. During the rainy season (usually mid-November thru mid-April) to avoid causing erosion, this and adjoining trails should be used by hikers only.


The trail covers about 2.5 miles in all, 5 miles round trip. The route is generally easy to hike or ride, keeping a gentle, constant slope as it drops about 1,150 feet to the river. The footing is even and mostly free of rocks.


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 trailhead:

The trailhead is located on a saddleback that is only about 200 ft from the side of Boole Road, but there is no parking at the trailhead. The closest parking is about 1/4 mile away on Cerro Vista Road.

  • 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 not available: The short dirt road to the trailhead, about 200 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.

Trail Description:

Overview: This trail decends from the saddleback area, and follows a graded fire road down into the canyon, ending on a wide sandy beach just upstream from Lake Clementine. It is a wide, graded road for about the first half and becomes more of a wagon road farther down.

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 well-graded road that heads downhill is the Upper Clementine Trail.
  3. Northeast: This single-track trail, sometimes partly obscured by brush, is the Assassin's Trail.
  4. West: A short dirt road connects to Boole Road about 200 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. It ends about a mile away at a locked gate.

Trail Course:

Follow the graded roadway for about two miles. Part way, 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.

You will next reach a junction area where, in 2005, Parks & Rec placed a number of Toyota-size cement blocks across the trail to prevent vehicle traffic from reaching the river. 4WD enthusiasts have long since moved the blocks aside, but they still serve well as a junction marker.


  • The Main Trail angles off downhill to your left.
  • Straight ahead is a foot trail that leads out to a beautiful viewpoint at the end of Long Point -- well worth the side trip. Bring your camera.
  • To your right is a wide trail that decends slowly toward upper Lake Clementine for about a mile, passing an old mining claim with its brick furnace building largely intact.
  • Behind you, up trail several yards, is the turnoff to the Training Hill trail.

From the junction area, the Upper Clementine Trail becomes more like the Gold Rush wagon road that it originally was: It becomes somewhat steeper, but it is still fairly easy going. It rounds the end of Long Point and continues its decent toward river level. It narrows to single track in one place, about 1/4 mile from the river, where past efforts to discourage 4WD traffic have caved away the downhill shoulder. It then comes out onto the wide sandy edge of the North Fork of the American River.

Across the beach, the river forms a large slow pool that is safe for swimming. At the downstream end of the pool the river enters a section of mild rapids before entering the upper end of Lake Clementine.

Extended Route:

Across the river is the Upper Clementine picnic area, which is accessible by vehicle from Foresthill Road. You can ford the river (conditions permitting) just above where the rapids begin. Use caution in crossing the river, especially during the period of Spring runoff. (Allow for the possibility that the water may be too deep and swift to cross safely.) Continue up the gravel access road on the other side for about 1.5 miles to the Foresthill Divide Road at the top.

The Foresthill Divide Loop Trail is a ten-mile multi-use trail that crosses the access road shortly before it reaches the highway. At the far end of the trail loop, it passes through the Drivers Flat trailhead area, which offers access to the Middle Fork of the American River and the Western States Trail.

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.