Monday, August 31, 2009

Eureka Peak: quartz, lichen and a grand view

While most gold discoveries in California began with a flash in the pan, the one at Eureka Peak—according to the Eureka Peak Loop Trail website of the California State Parks—began with a hike. The hikers (or better climbers) were two members of an exploratory party of miners, who found gold and other metals in quartz outcroppings on the slopes of Eureka Peak in the year 1851. Today, you can still find quartz outcroppings, sometimes hiding under lichen coating, at many rock sites of the Eureka Peak area. The loop trail makes access easy and if you are getting tired of quartz watching you may search for those places on the peak trail from where you can spot the volcanic peak of Mount Lassen by looking in north-northwest direction.

Getting there
Follow the direction to the Plumas-Eureka State Park visitor center and Mohawk Stamp Mill. Instead of leaving the Graeagle-Johnsville Road for the visitor center, continue on through Johnsville and further to the parking lot of the ski area. From there, a dirt road continues uphill to Eureka Lake. On open-gate days you can drive, otherwise you have to walk, up to the Eureka Lake reservoir. The trail starts at the Eureka Lake dam. After about one mile, it is your choice to hike the Eureka Peak Loop Trail clockwise or anti-clockwise. There is also access to Eureka Peak via the Eureka Peak Backway Trail, which is a fire road and starts from outside the park area.

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