Strawberry Pass     
El Dorado National Forest  (View this site)
Difficulty Rating:  
* Trail Length:  
** Elevation Range:  
Operating Season:  
12.4 Miles - point to point
5639' - 8617'
Open all year
CLOSED - Pending Litigation

Strawberry Pass is a great scenic trail that connects highways 50 and 88. The trail is generally run from the North, which allows you to climb up from Highway 50 over Strawberry pass (8,615 feet). The Northern half of the trail is the most difficult while the outhern half remains easy to moderate.

Although the trail is marked as moderate, there are only two tough obstacles on the trail. The first being a squeeze between a tree and rock and the other known as Painted Rock. The squeeze can be negotiated by a stock vehicle and a large flat stone on Pained Rock has been moved allowing access for even slightly modified vehicles.

Trailhead (Northern) - Access for Strawberry Pass trail begins to the North on Highway 50 between the towns of Kyburz and Strawberry, at mile marker 42. Both towns are very small so pay close attention to the mile maker post as you approach the trail.

Immediately off the highway there is a day use picnic area and restroom to the right. After crossing the bridge turn right and follow the sign to Strawberry Creek Tract. The paved road will turn to graded dirt as it follows Strawberry Creek to the beginning of the trail.

Service Road 11N 19 - After about 0.6 miles there will be a road to the left, this is Service Road 11N 19. The road is marked an easy to find. This also marks the beginning of the graded dirt road.

Service Road 10N 13 - Once on 10N 13 you will notice the trail become more narrow, steep and ncreasingly difficult. Use caution as off camber sections and body damage is a ossibility. While it is possible to navigate a stock 4x4 through the trail it is not recommended.

Waterfall - This is the first and most difficult obstacle on the trial, now that Painted Rock has been modified. In the winter and spring the water will make it down the trail and over the rocks giving this obstacle it's name. Use caution as sliding one way or the other will most likely leave you high centered. There is a bypass to the right that a stock vehicle could easily navigate.

Painted Rock - While this obstacle is still the most difficulty on the trail, it is not the same nail biter that earned it's name. In the past a flat rock in the middle of the trail forced your rear driver quarter panel into "Painted Rock". The rocks have been shifted making passage less of a concern.

Squeeze - As you continue up the trail you will be confronted with a tight spot. This is where a short wheel based vehicle has an advantage. On the right there is a large rock, risking body damage, and to the left a tree and the trails bank pinched you in toward the rock. After this point the trails difficulty decreases.

Strawberry Pass - Reaching an elevation of approximately 8625 feet Strawberry Pass offers some incredible views as you head down toward Caples Lake and Kirkwood ski resort. There are three gates on your way down the mountain, don't forget to close them behind you.

Trailhead (Southern) - Bear left at the maintance station and Highway 88 and Caples Lake is just ahead. Access to the trail from the South is near Caples Lake and just past Kirkwood Ski Resort.

Trail Maps      

GPS Waypoints   (GPX)
El Dorado National Forest   (US Forest Service)
Caples Lake   (USGS Topo)
Echo Lake   (USGS Topo)
Pyramid Peak   (USGS Topo)
Tragedy Spring   (USGS Topo)

Trail Photographs      

  (click to view)


Charles Wells: Guide to Northern California Backroads &...


From Highway 50 - Northern Access (Sacramento - 80 Miles)
- Head East on Highway 50 toward South Lake Tahoe (80 Miles)
- Turn right at the 42 Mile marker. Just before the Town of Strawberry

From Highway 88 - Southern Access (Stockton - 100 Miles)
- Head East on Highway 88 (100 Miles)
- turn left onto Schneider Cow Camp Road just past Kirkwood and Caples Lake (0.3 Miles)
- Follow the trail to the right past the maintenance building

Waypoint Coordinates      

  Trailhead (Northern)38° 47' 27.3" N- 120° 09' 07.6" W
  Service Road 11N 1938° 47' 06.8" N- 120° 08' 54.0" W
  Service Road 10N 1338° 46' 06.3" N- 120° 06' 38.2" W
  Waterfall38° 45' 49.2" N- 120° 06' 07.1" W
  Painted Rock38° 45' 40.3" N- 120° 05' 48.7" W
  Squeeze38° 45' 37.7" N- 120° 05' 49.7" W
  Strawberry Pass38° 43' 42.2" N- 120° 04' 18.4" W
  Trailhead (Southern)38° 43' 33.0" N- 120° 02' 51.8" W