|Fluted volcanic cliff structures south of Sandy Meadow Trail|
Ebbetts Pass and the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Sierra Nevada, California. Despite its name, this single-path hiking and horseback riding trail winds through coniferous forest; only short sections traverse meadows. The trail connects the corrals on Highway 4 with Wheeler Lake further west.
|Forest-framed sandy meadow|
The trail continues westwards, up and down through forest; boulder-strewn in places. My favorite rock along the trail is a granite pyramid pointing skyward in an opening of the at intervals dense pine and fir forest.
|A natural pyramid, I assume|
Hiking towards the upper end of Jackson Canyon, you are going to traverse meadows with stunning views to the south. My topographic hiking map—the National Geographic “Carson-Iceberg, Emigrant and Mokelumne Wilderness Areas” trail map—shows the location names Cliff Meadow and Avalanche Meadow. From east to west, the south is “blocked” by a steep, continuous cliff wall: a slightly curved cirque of fluted volcanic cliffs, a fraction of which is shown above. Darkening clouds moving over the cliffs from the southwest may easily cause a haunted feel in a psychically sensitive visitor. The cliffs show overhangs and caves. I am sure bird watchers will get their thrill exploring the avian life of these cliffs. Up to now, I didn't succeed in resourcing any ornithological information concerning this amazing cliff structure. It looks like a paradise for eagles and vultures. North-facing however, the livelihood of this vertical otherworld may be limited by enduring snow and ice curtains after a long, precipitation-rich winter season.
Chances are you or your party will be on their own in this cliff backyard, since Sandy Meadow Trail is not as frequently traveled as many other trails in the Sierra.
Getting to the Sandy Meadow Trailhead
From Minden, Nevada, take Highway 88 south to Woodfords. Turn left on Highway 89 to Markleeville. Continue alongside the East Fork Carson River and manage all the switchbacks uphill and over the Pacific Crest. From Ebbetts Pass, continue westbound past the Hermit Valley Historical Landmark. Find the Sandy Meadow Trailhead sign on the left side of the narrow road, just a short distance west from the Mosquito Lakes.
From Arnold, California, go eastbound on Highway 4 past Calaveras Big Trees State Park and Lake Alpine. Find the Sandy Meadow Trailhead sign on the right side of the narrow road, about three miles east from the Wood Chuck Basin Trailhead.