Hike Difficulty: easy to moderate
Hike Length: varies
Elevation Gain: 400-600 ft.
My Rating (out of 5): 4.5 – Jacksonville is a very pretty place to be and its trail system is no different. The trail system is a little bit like choose-your-own-adventure; it’s a big web that is all interconnected. What is really unique about this trail system is that it’s a walk through history. Jacksonville was a hot destination for gold miners during the gold rush. Their mining techniques changed the face of the landscape around Jacksonville, the effects of which can still be seen today. I even learned what a glory hole is (and no, it’s not what you think).
As always, I was racing against the sunset since I started the hike after school. I ended up hiking the Rich Gulch trail, stopping at Panorama Point, then making my way to the Petard Ditch Loop trail, and finally to Liz’s Trail. This was really where I enjoyed myself the most. Liz’s Trail is at the south end of the trail system and it crosses several private properties. For a long time, you have to travel between two fences, but eventually it opens up to the loop at the end. Even though it started getting dark, the trail lured me further and further out.
In the end, Jacksonville’s trail system was a unique history walk with some surprisingly good trails. I did see a few people and I could hear the highway traffic from a distance, so there’s no fooling yourself into thinking you’re in some isolated place with no one else around. Still, it was a good Friday workout.