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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In my continuing search for a good trail to take my SoCal friends on an excursion when they're in NorCal in a few weeks, I pulled out my old guidebooks and found the Bowerman Ridge trail in both Wells, Guide to Northern California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails (2004), p. 37, and Massey & Wilson Backcountry Adventures-Northern California (2002), p.550.

I pre-ran it on 8/11/13. (I ran the Mt. Shasta Loop on 8/10 - p. 35 in Wells and pp. 575-582 in Massey & Wilson).

My observations:

The Bowerman Ridge Road (36N35) is accessed about 25.5 miles north of Weaverville on Hwy 3. It is an easy forest service road with good views of Trinity Lake, the Trinity Alps and Mt. Shasta (on a clear day), at least until the last part of the trail just before the road drops down to Trinity Lake and dead ends at what is reported to be a great picnic spot. It gets very narrow at that point and is severely rutted - enough so that it was a bit of a "white-knuckler" getting tire placement without dropping a tire into a 2' deep rut or going too far left or right and over the side. After that the trees are overgrown to the point that permanent "pinstripes" were almost certain. I guess that some loppers could have fixed that, but it is forest service land and one is supposed to leave the trees alone, so I found a place to turn around and started looking for the turnoff to the west that leads down to Bowerman Barn and Trinity Lake.

Here's where the guidebooks are outdated. Both list 35N31Y as the route down to Trinity Lake. However, that road has been permanently gated for many years and is no longer shown as passable for motorized vehicles on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Motor Vehicle Use Map for the Weaverville Ranger District. However, about 1/2 mile north of the intersection of 36N35 and 35N31, 35N24 drops down to the lake, reaching a paved road about 1/4 south of historic Bowerman Barn (built in 1878). That road becomes Guy Covington Drive, goes through a residential area, and leads back to Highway 3.

Don't get me wrong, the ruts in the trail aren't that big a deal, but I was violating the first cardinal rule of offroading by traveling alone. Although the local rangers knew where I was, and I had Ham radio contact at all times, I did not have a spotter and would have been stuck there a long time had I miscalculated my line. I got through the rutted portion (had no choice because there was no backing up at that point), stopped for lunch, then turned around about 3/4 mile from trail's end. Its actually a more scenic route than the Mt. Shasta Loop because there are views in all directions from the ridgeline, whereas the Mt. Shasta Loop is down in the forest with only sporadic views of Mr. Shasta on the south and east sides of the mountain before the views open up on the north.

My search for the perfect day excursion continues . . .
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