One of the easiest 4x4 offroading runs is the Spencer Lakes Trail. Jeeps, off roading trucks, Quads, and motorcycles all run this trail. We try to get out into the Plumas and Tahoe National Forest as often as we can. What we enjoy the most is the peace you find in the High Sierra. Not that we are there by ourselves but the views you see, the flowers, it is really very spectacular.
You start the trip from Graeagle taking the Johnsville Graeagle road out five miles to Plumas Eureka State Park. Turn into the park entrance. The first thing to do is visit the Mining Museum. The town of Johnsville grew as a mining town. There were three major mines on Eureka Peak that were eventually merged into a single mine. The museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The museum is housed in a boarding house that was constructed in 1873. The mine operated from 1851 until 1903 when it was no longer profitable to keep it open.
As a side note while 4x4 offroading in this area there are a number of Geocash Caches, that you can hunt for and add to your Geocache finds. Another fun family activity.
Now head out through the parking area, the road is paved for about 1.5 miles. As you leave the parking area there is a sign that tells you that it is 27 miles to La Porte. The trip to La Porte is a back country trip that any high clearance vehicle can take. A 4x4 offroading vehicle is not required to enjoy this road.
We will save it for a day trip later in the week. At the end of the pavement you will pass the park campground and the road changes to dirt. The road is rough, but passable by any high clearance vehicle, two or four wheel drive.
The views are the highlight of this Spencer Lakes trip. The first that we really enjoy is of Jamison Falls. You have to be looking down into the creek bed to spot this one. It is about two miles past the campground on your left. There is a large boulder on a curve in the road, look right past the boulder. On your right in this area there are wild Tiger Lilly flowers.
About Five miles from the museum you will come to an intersection. Turn to your left, the sign points to the A tree. I have no idea what the A tree was as it is no longer there. Along this road you will come to a panoramic view that is well worth stopping for a photo opp. As you can see from the photo we always travel with at least two rigs for safety's sake. Just a few hundred yards past here you take the first road to your left.
If you have come this far with a two wheel drive it would be best to turn back. The 4x4 offroading trail begins here. While not real technical it does have some rocks and loose areas that would give a two wheel drive problems. The rest of us will keep on going. From here on out it is a really nice trail to the top of the Sierra, not to the highest point but up to about 7200 feet. The road runs along a ridge that allows you to see out toward the coast range, and also back east for as far as you can see. This is a spectacular jeep trail for the views.
As you come up onto the high part of the ridge look to your right there below you lay upper and lower Spencer Lakes. Shortly after this take the short branch out to the left and you will see three more lakes. There is a hiking trail that leads up to these lakes from the campground at Eureka State Park. You will often see hikers walking around these lakes.
Moving on you will come to the mine shafts for the four hills mine, a fun place to do a little exploring around but stay out of the shafts as there is plenty to see just wandering over the hillside. Always keep safety first. Just over the hill from the shafts are the mine tailings and an old boiler from the days of mine operation.
Another 100 yards down the road from the boiler the road splits to the right. This is a short trail that leads down to a parking area. From here you can walk down to upper Spencer Lake. This section is a bit rocky and can have brush that will rub the side of your vehicle. It is not real bad but you want to make your own decision about going down this road. The main trail will take you on out to Hawley lake. Hawley lake is Private property with no trespassing signs and is a summer camp. We have the privledge for two weeks every August of joining the Grass Valley Four Wheelers Club, taking young disabled persons in on this trail to the camp. They stay for a week and experience the High Sierras.
This is the end of the trail depending on your vehicle. From this point on, the trail becomes much rougher. We will discuss the next section of 4x4 offroading on the page about the Gold Valley trail. Now just retrace the trail back out to the Plumas Eureka Museum. you will have spent a minimum of four hours on this trip.
I hope you enjoy this trail like we do. We take all of our visitors out to see the sights up here.
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Return from 4x4 offroading to 4 wheeling
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