If you have never been on a winter hike in El Dorado County, you’re missing out! The cool temperatures drive away everything that may be deemed unpleasant about hiking. Gone are the crowds and the bugs, the heat and the dust. Instead, you can enjoy the fresh, crisp air and the beautiful snow-covered panoramas against a clear sky.

Sly Park clouds

Sure, you may have to pile on a few extra layers to beat the chill, but as long as you have the right gear, the exhilarating hike is worth it. Whether you want to hit up a popular trail or go somewhere secluded, El Dorado County has several winter hiking trails that offer a gateway to unforgettable winter adventures. Here are some to check out:

Jenkinson Lake

You’ll find Jenkinson Lake in Pollock Pines, east of Placerville. Also known as Sly Park Recreation Area, it is circled by 8.5 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails that range from easy to relatively more difficult. While you can access these trails all year round, winter is particularly lovely.

Many trails are pretty straightforward, with a few ups and downs, and are great for beginning hikers. You can access the trails in two ways: through the main gate at Sly Park Road and from the Bumpy Meadows Trailhead. Note that you will need to pay a fee to enter the Sly Park Recreation Area.

Dog in the snow at Loon Lake, El Dorado County

Enjoy a snowy winter hike with your dog at Loon Lake in El Dorado County. Photo courtesy of Willis the Wonderdoodle

Loon Lake

Loon Lake is another favorite destination among both local and out-of-town hikers. True, in the winter, you will need snowshoes, but we threw this one in because, wow, is it gorgeous! The best way to get there is to drive to the Loon Lake Chalet, which remains open during the day, and park and start from there.

There are a couple of trails that you can choose from. The Loon Lake Trail stretches for 8.9 miles and is rated as moderate. You can hike from Loon Lake to Burt’s Lake, or you can hike up a nearby peak to enjoy a stunning view of the area. If there is heavy snow, you can snowshoe across the dam.

sunrise and mist over Cronan Ranch trails

Cronan Ranch

Approximately four miles north of Coloma is the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park in Pilot Hill, a short drive off Highway 49. The park was originally an old ranch that Michael Cronan bought from the Central Pacific Railroad, and El Dorado County acquired it in 2004. It boasts 12 miles of trails for hiking, fishing, biking, birdwatching, and other adventures. In winter, the undulating hills are covered in breathtaking green foliage and make for a great day hike.

Heading out for a hike? Be sure to check out our tips on traveling responsibly in El Dorado County

Whether you want to embark on a winter hike in El Dorado County or visit a gold mine in Placerville, learn all about the best hikes in the region, the best spots for gold panning in El Dorado County, the best hotels and motels, pet-friendly cafes, and so much more!