Fordyce is mostly slow going rock trail broken up by large awkward obstacles and fast flowing deep water crossings. The few short sections of easy-going dirt on this trail do not last long. From Driveline Hill to Winch Hill 5, Fordyce Jeep Trail is non-stop rocks. This is a straight-through trail, connecting from the Indian Springs OHV Staging area on the south to Meadow Lake on the north. There is one "early exit route" at Committee, which includes an additional Creek Crossing and a short stretch of steep rocky hill that exit to Fordyce Lake Road.
From start to finish, Fordyce Jeep Trail is just over 12 miles of rock crawling as it climbs from about 5,400 feet to over 7,300 feet in elevation. 6 named Winch Hills and 3 deep water crossings are the major obstacles this trail is known for but be prepared for continuous rock crawling throughout the trail.
This trail is tough. It is for experienced off-roaders. New drivers should stay away.
Forest service trail status
Yuba River South MVUM
About the water crossings:
The water flow of the creek is measured in CFS (Cubic Feet per Second ). Anything over 300 CFS is considered impassable. The pictures below are at only 45 CFS.
The water flow in the creek changes as needed for power generation at the upstream dam operated by PG&E (Pacific Gas and Electric). This is typically unpredictable and can drastically change without notice. It is possible to be trapped between water crossings due to a change in flow.
Click here for current and past flow rates
Once, and only once, a year in August, water is held for the CAL4WHEEL Sierra Trek
. Outside of this time, it is upto you to research and judge water crossing dangers.
1. Trailhead at Indian Springs
Turn north off of Eagle Lakes Road, into Indain Springs to start the trail.
2. Indian Springs OHV Staging Area
Continue straight, past the Indian Springs OHV Staging Are and Signal Peak Trailhead.
3. Keep Right
Keep right at the Kiosks.
4. Driveline Hill
Continue up Driveline Hill; the first of the big obstacles along Fordyce Jeep Trail.
There is a bypass to the left, but if you have trouble here, you likely won't make it much further.
5. Eagle Lakes Intersection - Keep Right
Keep right at the intersection of Eagle Lakes.
6. Rock Garden to Sunrise Hill
Continue straight at this rock garden as you approach Sunrise Hill.
7. Sunrise Hill (Upper)
Continue straight to make your way down this upper section of Sunrise Rise Hill; a steep rocky hill leading to Water Crossing 1.
8. Sunrise Hill (Bottom)
Keep going and watch your body panels on the rock sticking out on the passenger side.
9. Water Crossing 1
You're on your own here. You have to make the call if it's safe to cross or not. The creek flow can change without notice and is rarely at the same level. The typical line here is to curve far left, then straighten out as you cross, but the rushing waters can change the rocks on the bottom too, so you never know how this crossing is going be.
See the route description for more info on the water crossings.
10. Pool 1
Continue on or stop here at Pool 1 for a break. This (and Pool 2 just ahead) is a great spot to stop for lunch or a cold swim.
11. Pool 2
Continue on or stop here at Pool 2 for lunch, set up camp, or take a swim.
Note that if you choose to camp here, you are between water crossings which can change without notice. While it's not likely, there is a chance that you can become trapped between water crossings due to increased flow at the upstream dam.
12. Winch Hill 1/2
Continue up Winch Hill 1/2 (one half). To the left is the easier line, to the right is the more difficult line.
Winch Hill 1/2 is an addition to the trail from a reroute that took place after the other winch hill numbers were established, hence the name; 1/2.
13. Unmarked Intersection - Keep Right
Keep right at this unmarked intersection.
14. Narrow and Jagged
Continue straight at this Narrow and Jagged section of rocks.
15. Winch Hill 1 Bypass Interesction - Keep Left
Keep left to stay on the trail and climb Winch Hill 1. Turn right to bypass Winch Hill 1.
16. Winch Hill 1
Continue up the rock garden at the bottom and into the deep, steep notch that is Winch Hill 1. Most rigs will need to ride high on the driver side approaching the notch to make it up. Once up and over there is one one more dif grabber of a boulder to get past.
17. Winch Hill 1 Bypass (Top) - Keep Left
Keep left at the top of Winch Hill 1. The other trail on right is the other end of the Winch Hill 1 Bypass.
18. Water Crossing 2
Another deep water crossing. Make the call if its safe and cross at your own risk.
See the route description for more info on the water crossings.
19. Winch Hill 2 (Lower)
Continue up this lower section of Winch Hill 2 where loose rocks scatter the climb and a deep hole sits on the left line fore those looking for more of a challenge.
20. Winch Hill 2 (Upper)
Continue up the upper section of Winch Hill 2. Straight up this steep notch is the more challenging route, where a wide right line, hugging the tree is typically the easier line.
21. Waterfall Camp Intersection - Keep Right
Keep right to continue on the trail. A left here leads down a short, but steep trail to a flat area next to another pool and small waterfall.
22. Water Crossing 3
If you made it through Water Crossing 1 and 2, Water Crossing 3 shouldn't be a problem, but again, be aware that water levels can change with out notice.
See the route description for more info on the Water Crossings.
23. Creek Side
Continue straight or stop for a break. Creek Side is a large, somewhat flat section of the trail alongside of the creek, with room to park and makes for a great place to have lunch.
You have options here. Cut left into the squeeze, cut left up the Walls or cut left between the trees at the end of the Walls into Committee. All lead back into the trail at the top.
Committee is a large rocky area full of walls and notches. This a common gathering / spectating point along the trail and is also the intersection of the early exit /early entrance route cutting over to Fordyce Lake Road at the dam. To use the early exit route, turn right, cross the creek and climb the steep, rocky trail on the other side up to Fordyce Lake.
25. Steps after Comittee
Continue up these rock Steps after Committee.
26. Launna's Hill
Continue up Launna's Hill. The left line is tight and off camber with risk of body damage. The right line is rutted with rocks that love to grab differentials.
27. Steps After Launna's Hill
Continue up these steps after Launna's Hill.
28. Winch Hill 3
On the right is Winch Hill 3, probably the hardest of the winch hills. Just left of that, in the center is the bypass. Even the bypass here is difficult.
Winch Hill 3 is another common place for gathering and spectating.
29. Winch Hill 4
Continue straight and make your way up Winch Hill 4. There's not much choice of lines here and no bypass. Your options are to make it up, winch, or turn around.
30. Winch Hill 5
Continue up to the left on the lower section of Winch Hill 5 and then to the right on the upper section of Winch Hill 5. The upper section has a bypass that snakes around the toughest part of Winch Hill 5, but if you've made it this far on Fordyce you shouldn't need the bypass.
Winch Hill 5 is the last obstacle on the trail. From here on its an easy trail into Meadow Lake.
31. 13E08/Excelsior Mine Spur Intersection - Continue Straight
Continue straight at the Excelsior Mine Spur.
32. 13E15/Beyers Lake Intersection - Continue Straight
Continue straight at the Beyers Lake Trailhead.
33. End/Meadow Lake Road
Fordyce Jeep Trail ends here at Meadow Lake and Meadow Lake Road.
From this point, your options are to stop and set up camp, head back down Fordyce and maybe exit at Committee, or continue northeast on Meadow Lake for about 11 miles to Jackson Meadow Road, head east for 9.5 miles to CA-89 and follow 89 south for 14.5 miles into Truckee.