So what, exactly, does the Clementine Connector connect? It connects the upper end of the Lake Clementine Trail with the lower end of the Forest Hill Divide Loop Trail. I start at the trailhead that is just a few yards from the intersection of The new Foresthill Road (a couple of miles after you cross the bridge) and the old Foresthill Road (right where it comes up out of the canyon). Take the spur road that hairpins back down to the Lake Clementine dam. Look for the trailhead sign. You might see Dharma there too!
The best thing about this trail is that it’s easy. There’s one hill to surmount, and that one only takes about five minutes. The rest is just rolly polly. It’s a good trail if you’re tired or nursing an injury. How long is the trail? As long as you want. The Connector itself is about a 7 mile round trip, out-and-back. But if you want to run it up to the Forest Hill Divide Loop, and then add that loop trail, like a big lollipop on a Connector stick, you can get about 20 miles. I’ve done that run before. Nice, but . . . whew! Toss in the Clementine Trail for starters, and you’ve got yourself a forest marathon. Maybe. Someday.
Taking your pooch along? The Connector is best run in the late fall or in the spring when there is water in the single creek.
Otherwise, it’s dry as a bone. If you’re dog-less, it’s a good summer run because it’s one of the shadiest trails in the area. Just watch out for the summer abundance of poison oak; there’s a lot of it. Here’s the little bridge where you find the creek.
The Clementine Connector is not the most spectacular trail in the foothills for scenery. Most of it looks like this.
Every now and then, the trail will open up and you can get a view across the canyon.
This photo fails to convey the true size of that rock. Yes, unfortunately, those are houses over there, scarring and desecrating the canyon rim. A couple of times you can look down and get a peek of the North Fork of the American River.
After you cross the bridge (above) you will come out into the sunlight and start the one uphill climb on this run. When you get to the top, there’s a surprise. If you want to stop for a moment, someone has installed a bench right on the overlook.
Pretty cool, huh? Down below is the upper reach of Lake Clementine.
It’s still called “Lake” Clementine at this point, but it’s really the American River temporarily stalled on its way down hill. You can see the dam that gets in the river’s way in my article about the Clementine Trail.
Yes, except for a couple of splashy views, the pleasures of the Clementine Connector are subtle. Shhhh. One of my favorite spots among my many trails is along the Connector. About 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead, you will run through one of the prettiest groves of madrone trees you will find still standing in the lower foothills.
Aren’t they gorgeous? Of course, you have to know what madrones look like. And now you do!
I’ve written before about this trail in one of my first blogs, called “Chance Encounters on the Clementine.” A few wacky readers found it entertaining. If you are easily amused, click the link.
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