Back to index Cronan Ranch (Magnolia) Sky Ridge Loop Trail
Trip Date:  01/13/2020

: 7.6 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1100'

Group Size: 2

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
Cronan Sky Ridge Route
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Cronan Sky Ridge Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 49.578, W 120 57.329     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates  
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 49 West of the town of Coloma until you reach the Magnolia parking lot area on the south side of the highway.
Hazards of Note:   Rattlesnakes, ticks, poison oak, mountain lions. Crowd Factor:   Moderate to High.  There are many trails in this area popular with dog-walkers, bicyclists, equestrians, joggers and other hikers.  Especially in the non-summer months you will expect to meet up with a number of other people out on the many trails in the area.
General Notes:
From the parking lot head south to pick up the Gerle Loop trail.  Within the first half mile you will reach the new bridge (as of 2020) across Hastings Creek, which opens up the trail from Magnolia trailhead.  Previously when the water is high, this was often a tenuous crossing to continue on this trail.  About a mile into the hike you will come to a junction where you will want to head to the left.  To the right you will pick up the new Sky Ridge Trail, which you will take on the way back and avoid long switchbacks going up with a significant amount of elevation gain.  Continue on this trail heading south, and slowing making your way down toward the South Fork of the American River.  About 3 miles in you will have a few spots for river access, including some well-built restroom buildings primarily added to the area for the multitude of river rafters which come through the area in spring and summer.  
From this location, head back north, and follow the trails generally up to the northeast and the visible trail cut into the side of the tallest hill in that direction.  As you crest the hill, the trail heads along the ridgeline on the new Sky Ridge trail heading south for a bit, before turning sharply north.  The trail then switchbacks down the hill, picking up the original trail at the junction described earlier along the trail.  Head back across the new Hastings Creek trail and back to the Magnolia parking area.

The new Hastings Creek bridge opens up the two effective halves of Cronan Ranch which create a large number of longer hikes available. New Hastings Creek bridge
Heading up the early section of trail on the way down toward the river. Early trail
There are some nice views toward the Sierra Foothills to the east as you head along the southward section of trail. Sierra view
Looking down toward the South Fork of the American River as the trail begins to head slightly southwest. Looking south
At the river are some nice horseshoe pits, which also make for a good tiedown spot for my hiking pup.
Lunch spot
At the horseshoe pit area is a nice flat location to enjoy the riverside location. Riverside spot
Looking northeast across Cronan Ranch as the trail heads back to the north from the river.
Looking ahead
The view east from the top of the Sky Ridge trail shows all the way from the Magnolia Parking lot far below all the way to the snow-capped Crystal Range Peaks 50 miles beyond.
High view
GPS Track of the full hike. GPS Track of Hike