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
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
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
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
For campground reservations, or for information, call 530-644-2545, then "O.