Back to index Charity Valley Hike
Trip Date:  09/16/2016

: 11.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 800'

Group Size: 3

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Raymond Peak Route
See video of this hike   See video of hike   Download GPXGPX for this trip
Charity Valley Hike Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 40.099, W 119 55.062     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 88 to the Blue Lakes Road.  Turn south on Blue Lakes Road, which is just to the west of Pickett's Junction.  Go south on Blue Lakes road 6.5 miles to a small turnout on the east side of the road where there is room for 3 to 4 cars to park off the road.  The actual trailhead is approximately 3/10 of a mile back north on the road, but parking any closer might be harder to find.  
Hazards of Note:   A relatively unknown/unused trail has a number of sections requiring following cairns to stay on the trail.

Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  This is a remote area trail which is relatively unknown, and the chances of running into anyone on either the west side of the Charity Valley trail or even sections of the Burnside Lake trail are remote.
General Notes:
From the parking area, head north on the road, or you can find a small use trail just to the west of the private property fence markers which are a safer way to find the actual trail 3/10 of a mile north of the parking area.  The Charity Valley trail immediately heads off to the east, offering pretty spectacular views of the north side of Markleeville Peak and Charity Valley as you gradually climb up in elevation over the first mile.  After this first mile, the trail then heads down and follows along Charity Creek for the next couple miles.  Even in the late summer there was a good amount of water running in this river, making it suitable with a filter as a water source for most of the duration of the trip.  Nearly four miles into the hike the trail begins to drop elevation quickly, something which will have to be climbed back up on the way out if not doing this as a point to point hike.  
At the junction for the Burnside Lake trail, there is a fantastic overlook of Grover State Park and the Hot Springs area to the east, which shouldn't be missed.  On our trek we headed up the Burnside Lake trail for a little over 1/2 mile, which is even less maintained than the Charity Valley trail and climbed over 700 feet in that short span.  However, the views get better and better as you gain elevation and make the exertion worth it.

Mark heading from the parking area to the trailhead, with Markleeville Peak in the distance. Heading out with Markleeville Peak in the background
Near the beginning of the hike there are some pretty spectacular views back toward Round Top, the Nipple and Elephant's Back to the west. Me with Round Top in the background 
The first mile of the trail heads up, gradually, giving a good view of Charity Valley with Markleeville Peak beyond it. Looking south toward the peak 
Mark heading up the first mile with Mokelumne Wilderness Peaks visible in the distance. Heading up the use trail 
Charity Valley is a large, open area which is unfortunately all private property.  The blue roof of the property owner's residence can just been seen to the right in the trees. Charity Valley
A couple miles into the trek the trail heads down to meet Charity Creek, offering a source of water and some great scenery as well. Charity Creek 
The trail actually seems to be made up of a multitude of mini ecosystems, switching from forest to open to granite rocks. Changing scenery
Once the trail starts dropping in elevation, the sheer granite walls to the north and somewhat to the south are amazing. Sheer granite
Keep a close eye on the way and you can just make out a different view of Hawkins Peak, almost directly due north from the trail.  The peak houses a state of the art communications system for Alpine County which was finished in 2012. Hawkins Peak
Just shy of 5 miles from the start is where you will meet up with the steep trail up to Burnside Lake.  It is about 2 miles to the lake, but you will gain about 1500 feet in elevation on the way, much of it in the first 1/2 mile. Burnside Lake junction
Just about 200 feet to the south of the trail junction, not marked in any way is a fantastic view east into Grover Hot Springs State Park and the mountains further on which Monitor Pass cuts through on the way to Highway 395. This viewpoint is one of the best parts of this entire hike, not to be missed! Grover State Park
Near the Grover State Park viewpoint is a firepit, as well as where a geocache should have been located but is no longer there. Mark searching
About a half mile up the Burnside Lake trail, you have gained 700 feet of elevation and get even better views down the canyon toward the east. Views from Burnside Lake trail
Looking down at the Grover State Park overlook near the trail junction far below. Looking south
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike