Location: Kirkwood, CA; El Dorado National Forest
Distance: 8 miles
Type: Day-hike; Out-and-back or Loop (Information in this post reflects the Out-and-Back Option)
Permits & Fees: There is no fee or permit required for this hike.
Driving Directions: Parking is located in a small dirt lot off of Hwy 88 and is free. Driving directions can be found here. Keep an eye out for this sign that reads “Thunder Mountain Trailhead”.
Preparation: Water, sunscreen and good hiking shoes. Arrive early to ensure a parking spot (parking is limited).
Dog Friendly? Yes!
After parking in the dirt parking lot, locate the trailhead sign and begin hiking on the trail to the left:
The start of the hike is fairly easy and begins in a heavily wooded area. Don’t be fooled though; the trail quickly begins to make the ascent up the mountain. It may not appear so at first, but this trail is extremely steep.
Note: There are three major “points” of the trail; The Two Sentinels, Martin Point and Glove Rock (more information below).
Continue through the forest, following the dirt path. Eventually the forest line breaks and a column of solar panels comes into view:
After about 2.5 miles in, the first point, called Two Sentinels, is reached:
Continue along the ridge until the second point, called Martin Point, is reached (this is the view of Martin Point looking back):
There are many skiing warning signs along the ridge (this is a popular skiing area during the winter months), as well as a trail marker:
At the 3.2 mile mark, the final point before Thunder Mountain is reached, which is called Glove Rock. Continue hiking on the dirt trail to the backside of Glove Rock:
After continuing on the trail towards backside of Glove Rock, a fork in the trail is reached at 3.7 miles. It is marked by the following sign:
Stay to the right of this sign to continue towards Thunder Mountain. The dirt trail eventually turns into a rocky scramble to the top of Thunder Mountain. Keep an eye out for the trail ducks to stay on track. After about a half mile, Thunder Mountain is finally reached (Silver Lake can be seen to the left):
Take the same trail back down the mountain towards the trailhead. Enjoy the views!
Note: This is the view of Thunder Mountain towards the beginning of the trail for reference: