Tony Krizan

Here’s a hike that won’t cause a sweat – at least, not too much

Bass Lake with Goat Mountain in background from over 5,000 feet as seen from a Class 1 trail.
Bass Lake with Goat Mountain in background from over 5,000 feet as seen from a Class 1 trail. Special to the Sierra Star

Many hikers are under the assumption that an emotionally satisfying hike has to be strenuous. There are many adventures into our local mountains that are Class 1 (flat with very little elevation gain). Let me introduce you to a 6-mile round trip that will reward you with a vista view of Bass Lake.

Over the years I have forgotten about this one separate easy hike and decided to preview this forgotten view of Bass Lake and Goat Mountain. The trailhead is roughly an hour’s drive from Oakhurst to Gray’s Mountain Campground. Drive north on Highway 41 to Sky Ranch Road. Take Sky Ranch Road to USFS Road 6S40 which leads to Soquel Campground. Drive past the campground to the bridge that crosses Willow Creek and Gray’s Mountain Campground to park. The trailhead is an old forestry road on the right before crossing the bridge.

Tony Krizan Joelle Leder

This forestry road follows Willow Creek, but as the creek descends in elevation flowing toward Bass Lake, the road in turn increases in elevation. Almost 45 minutes into this hike, heavy equipment or dynamite must have been used to forge the roadway through and across this granite area. It was interesting how quickly Willow Creek dropped in elevation to over 80 feet below us.

Much of this area is still under the watchful eye of the Forest Service since the fire disaster of 2017. Today they were burning the dead trees and brush from the Railroad Fire of 2017. Finally we arrived at 5,317 feet and Bass Lake Vista. Just as its title states, this view covers the entire length of Bass Lake with Goat Mountain in the background. I forgot my telephoto lens, but the weather cooperated for distant photography.

Within a half-mile of the trailhead on the return hike, looking down at Willow Creek, I could see huge flat granite slabs. From my lofty viewpoint it looks as if our American Indians also graced this area. Are those grinding holes embedded throughout those slabs? I was informed later that if I dropped down to the creek, those holes were from our American Indians. Also, there was a trail leading back to the bridge from this location. Now to quote those famous word of General MacArthur: I shall return!

Periodically I have been asked about the location of an easy hike, relatively flat, through the mountain forest and with an exciting view. For those of you who are new to the area and with not much hiking time in our mountains, this is the hike for you! Just stay on the bladed mountain road to Bass Lake Vista, and then return by the same route.