Headwaters of the Middle Fork
of the Cosumnes River Loop


Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 4.4 miles round trip
7050 feet
+600, -600 feet
Navigation Road, marked trail, map and compass
Time Half day
Season Mid-December through mid-April
Snowmobiles Low [Snowmobile traffic is only low although part of route coincides with Silver Bear Snowmobile Trail.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Bear River Reservoir
Start Junction of Highway 88 and Foster Meadow Road, 0.8 mile east of Peddler Hill Maintenance Station and 11.1 miles west of the Silver Lake dam. Parking is on the north side of the highway in a cut-out that only holds 4 to 6 vehicles. Park carefully to maximize capacity.


The headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River is nestled in a narrow canyon. After ascending to the headwaters via the standard route the tour described here loops around and descends on the opposite side of the river. In doing so, you have an opportunity to explore new territory but it includes a short, steep descent through trees and a navigational challenge. The return on the loop tour is also more shaded and that means more chance for powder or icy conditions.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.5
Elevation change: -100 feet

From the trailhead (1) ski north and then west on snow-covered Foster Meadow Road for a total of 0.5 mile until you intersect the groomed Silver Bear Snowmobile Trail (2). You will pass a road on your right at 0.1 mile.

Miles: 0.5 - 1.1
Elevation change: -100 feet

Turn northeast (right) onto the Silver Bear Snowmobile Trail (this is still Foster Meadow Road) and follow it for 0.6 mile until you reach the turnoff for the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River (3). A sign marks this location.

Miles: 1.1 - 1.6
Elevation change: +150 feet

Turn northeast (right) onto the narrow road that climbs to the headwaters and follow it for 0.5 mile until you reach a road junction (4). The road you intersect is part of the Cosumnes Loop Trail (it's not actually a loop). To the southwest (left) it connects with Anderson Ridge and straight ahead leads to the headwaters.

Miles: 1.6 - 2.2
Elevation change: +250 feet

Continue straight on the road for 0.6 mile until you reach the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Cosumnes River (5). You know you have arrived when the road makes a sharp turn to the right at an open area. There is also a sign here indicating the steep climb to Trail Junction.

Miles: 2.2 - 2.5
Elevation change: Nil

Turn south with the road and follow it for 0.3 mile until you reach the end of the road (6).

Miles: 2.5 - 2.6
Elevation change: -200 feet

Leave the road and descend slightly south of west and steeply through fairly dense trees for slightly more than 0.1 mile until you reach an open and fairly level area (7) above the creek.

Miles: 2.6 - 2.7
Elevation change: Nil

Ski southwest and parallel to the drainage holding your elevation for slightly less than 0.1 mile until you intersect a road (8). The path should be through fairly open terrain.

In the event that you have difficulty locating the road, ski southwest past the where the end of the road should be and then ski perpendicular to the drainage until you intersect the road. The road is approximately 125 yards from the river.

Miles: 2.7 - 3.3
Elevation change: -200 feet

Follow the road southwest for 0.6 mile until you reach Foster Meadow Road (9).

Miles: 3.3 - 4.4
Elevation change: +200 feet

Turn south (left) onto Foster Meadow road and retrace the route for 1.1 miles back to the trailhead (1).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Link to full page map
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