In the California gold rush days, Eureka Peak was known as Gold Mountain. On May 21, 1851 a small group of miners discovered gold on the east side of the mountain on the site where today, the Plumas-Eureka State Park is located. Eventually, 62 miles of mine shafts were excavated throught the area.
Eureka Peak itself, located within the Plumas National Forest, rises dramatically over the small mountain communities of Blairsden and Graeagle in the Mohawk Valley. From the summit one is treated to fantastic views of the northern Sierra, extending from Sierra Buttes in the south to Lassen Peak in the north.
The easiset route to the summit (class 1) follows a well maintained trail from Eureka Lake, located on the north side of the peak. The trail covers the distance to the peak in about 2 miles, climbing approximately 1,200 feet in the process. In addition, there are 4 wheel drive roads that will take you close to the south summit.
As an added bonus, Eureka Peak has a subsidary summit located about ½ mile to the north. While a few hundred feet shorter that it's southerly neighbor, standing at 7,286 feet, the north summit offers more interesting scrambling opprotunities than the main peak.
The Plumas-Eureka State Park is located about 50 miles north of Truckee along highway 89. Just past the small downtown of Graeagle, turn left on County Road A-14. There is very clear signage directing motorists to the park on Hwy 89.
Alternatively, the park can be reached from highway 70. At the intersection of highway 70 and 89, turn onto 89 and continue south for about 1 mile, crossing over the middle fork of the Feather River and turning onto County Road A-14.
After turning on County Road A-14, the State Park is another 5 miles. There are several spots along the road that have great views of the east side of the peak. In the Park, there is another very small town of Johnsville (no services other than a seasonal restaurant). Pass through the town and continue another 1 mile or so. At the end of the road, there is a very large parking lot that used to service a now closed ski area.
Eureka Peak is accessible to climbers year-round.
Climbing Eureka Peak in the summer is an easy outing. Follow the above directions to the ski parking area. In the southwest corner of the parking area, a dirt road heads west. Follow this road approximately 1.5 miles until you get to Eureka Lake. The road is in good condition and should be passable by passenger car. High clearance is helpful though. Once at Eureka Lake, cross over the earthen dam on the north side of the lake. Just on the other side of the dam is a trail sign indicating Emerald Lake. Follow this trail. After about 1.25 miles, the trail intersects with the 4x4 road on the summit plateau. Turn left to the summit.
In the winter months, park at the large parking area noted above. A snow covered road leads to the west from the southwest corner of the parking lot. Continue along this road for about 1.5 mile until you reach Eureka Lake. Follow the above summer ascent directions or head out cross country as you see fit.
Campfire permits are required for all open flames, including gas stoves and BBQ's. Please see the Plumas National Forest Campfire Page for more information.
There are no fees to enter the Plumas-Eureka State Park and parking is free as well.
Dispersed camping is allowed in most places in the Natl Forest. There are also many developed sites in the area.
Lakes Basin Recreation Area
Located nine miles southwest of Graeagle on County Road 519. Gold Lake Hwy is located about 2 miles south of Graeagle on Hwy 89. The Lakes Basin Area has special geological features that were created by glaciers. Supplies are available in Graeagle.
Lakes Basin Campground
23 units total
4 universally accessible site and 1 double
Gold Lake 4x4 Camp
10 miles south of Hwy. 89 off of Gold Lake Hwy then 1 mile further on a 4x4 road to the campground. 4-wheel drive is required.
Lakes Basin Group Campground
1 unit (25 people)
$50 /25 people
There is also camping within the Plumas-Eureka State Park.
Plumas-Eureka State Park
Showers. Reservations highly recommended in July and August. Reserve (800) 444-7275
The event that resulted in a community and later became the key reason for establishing the park was the discovery of gold on the east side of Eureka Peak, (then known as Gold Mountain) by a group of 9 miners on May 23, 1851. What started out as an individual discovery eventually led to 62 miles of shafts with several individual operators and companies.
British mining experts perfected the method of removing the rich ore from within the mountain. At one point, three stamp mills were in operation at various locations on the mountainside, but in time, the ore-crushing operation was concentrated at one mill, the Mohawk. Built in 1876 at a cost of approximately $50,000 the Mohawk contained 60 stamps, each weighing from 600 to 950 pounds with a drop of 8 1/2 inches - 80 times per minute. Each stamp could crush 2 1/2 tons of ore (a small dump truckload) every 24 hours.
Ore was brought from shafts higher up on the mountain by the means of two gravity-powered tramways. Returning ore buckets sometimes carried miners up the mountain and in the winter, served as possibly the first ski lift in California. When mining in the area ceased for good in the 1940's, over 8 million dollars worth of gold had been removed from Gold Mountain!