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Esoteric Society Trails

Click to view detailed version
Click to view detailed version.

What is the Esoteric Society?

Around 1891, Hiram Erastus Butler arrived in Applegate from Boston, where he had previously been a member of Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society. He had authored a book entitled "Solar Biology," challenging various philosophical beliefs of Blavatsky's popular sect, and had formed a new organization called the Esoteric Society to promote his ideas.

He and his new group migrated to their present Applegate location, not far from the railroad line that had brought them west, to be free to live their beliefs. They built a publishing operation and religeous retreat on the grounds of the 90 acre property. The buildings were constructed from bricks made by Society members on the property, using local manzanita to fire the brick kiln. The printing press and bindery are still operational, and the library houses an extensive collection of religeous and philosophical tracts.

The grounds are now managed by the Society's senior member and caretaker, Fred Peterson. If you are fortunate, you may run into him on one of your visits. He is a fascinating person to chat with about all things "Esoteric."

MVTA has a long-standing agreement with the Society, allowing our members access to the property in exchange for regular efforts to help keep the trails clear and reduce fire danger.


The Esoteric trailsmeander among groves of manzanita and pine along the crest above the canyon of the North Fork.

MVTA members can request keys and an ID badge from our Trails Coordinator and can let themselves into the Esoteric property to use the trails.

There is also a back gate, near the trailhead parking area, that lets out onto the trails that connect to the Boole Road area and to the Codfish Creek/American River canyons.


The trail network is multi-use and is available to MVTA members year-round during daylight hours. To avoid causing erosion, steep sections of the trails should not be used during the rainy season (usually mid-November thru mid-April.)


The Esoteric trails are easy-to-moderate in difficulty. Most of the trails follow old wagon roads; some are single track.

Map Notes:

Click on the map above to view a detailed version. Driving access is via Boole Road from the I-80 Applegate exit. The roadway from the front gate up to the parking area is unpaved and narrow. Drive with care.

The trailhead is marked on the map by a circle-P parking icon. There is space for several full-size vehicles or a couple of 3-horse trailer rigs. Larger rigs are not recommended due to the nature of the roadways from the gate to the parking area.


Cougar habitatThese trails traverse Cougar Habitat. Cougar sightings are rare, but use good sense: Do not walk or ride these trails alone. Keep small children and pets close at hand.

Poison Oak grows along some of these trails and may hang 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. Look for a left turn about a mile down. There is a sign on the side that reads, "Esoteric Publishing Society."
  • The gate to the Esoteric property is about 1/4 mile in. The gate is kept padlocked. Be sure to close and lock the gate behind you, both coming and going.

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.