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Updated Monday May 30, 2011
Visitor #

Sly Park 

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Location: Hwy 50 near  Pollack Pines
Date reviewed: July 2003

Sly Park around Jenkinson Lake has shaded and well-maintained horse trails. This is a beautiful setting at Pollock Pines off Highway 50, where riders can take a day ride of 9 miles around the lake, or choose to horse-camp and do several shorter rides. Many riders hope to catch cool breezes at this higher elevation when Sacramento is baking. Although you can't count on actual "cool" weather, it is always at least cooler than the valley below. But at 3500 feet, this park gets snow, and the roads can be icy. Call for information if it is not summertime.

The 5 miles of equestrian trails on the north side of the lake are friendly and relatively easy. These well-marked trails occasionally share or cross multi-use trails, but generally horses have their own trails on the hillside above the paved road and the bike trails. Footing is good, there is shade nearly all the way, and the views of the lake are wonderful. There are a few stream
crossings where horses can drink, and also a strategically placed watering trough about halfway to the picnic area.

In contrast, the 4 miles of trails on the south side of the lake are "advanced trails," to quote the Sly Park brochure. While the hiking and biking trails follow nicely along the side of the lake, the horses become mountain goats and climb switchbacks on the hillside. This side of the lake, from the picnic area back to the trailer parking, is excellent conditioning for endurance-type riding, but stressful for inexperienced horses (and riders!). At about the 8-mile point, the horses need to wade through water at a spillway with large rocks and boulders. Be prepared to get wet if your horse gives you an argument!

The picnic area at the midway point is simply beautiful, with shaded picnic tables, tie rails, toilets, and a wonderful view of the lake. So far you have ridden about 2-1/2 hours at a walk. This is the place to turn around if you are looking for only an easy day ride. To continue, you cross Park Creek, then begin the strenuous 4 miles along the "Southshore Trail." You can circle the lake at a walk (with some trotting up the steepest hills) in about 4 hours.

Black Oak Equestrian Campground has 15 campsites, some with corrals, toilets, and overflow parking. Call 530-644-2792 for reservations and information on fees, or to ask if there is room for you to park there for the day. If you are able to park your horse trailer at the Campground, you can ride directly to the north, easier trails. If you park at the day use staging area and come down to the lake trails, you will have to choose either steep hills (to the right toward the picnic area) or the challenging switchbacks to the left.

Jenkinson Lake is part of the El Dorado Irrigation District, and Sly Park Recreation Area is run in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation.

DIRECTIONS: Sly Park is 12 miles beyond Placerville on Highway 50. After the Pollock Pines exit, take the next exit onto Sly Park Road, turn right, and drive 5 miles down hill past the Park entrance. Go approximately 3 more miles, then turn left on Mormon Emigrant Trail (Iron Mountain Rd.) for the Black Oak Equestrian Campground thru the gate on the right. For day use, continue on Mormon Emigrant Trail past the campground, go across the dam/spillway approximately 2 miles, up the steep incline, about 1/2 mile. Look for a sharp 180 degree turn into the entrance of the Day Use Staging Area.  For campground reservations, or for information, call 530-644-2545, then "O.