West Ridge Trail to Satan’s Cesspool

Location: Pilot Hill, CA; Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park

Distance: 11.3 miles

Type: Day-hike; Out-and-Back

Rating: Moderate to Difficult

Permits & Fees: No parking fees or permits!

Driving Directions: Google Maps directions can be found HERE. Parking is located at the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park parking lot:

Image by sacramentovalley.org

Preparation: Arrive early to secure a parking spot; the lot is fairly large so parking is usually available. Bring LOTS of water!

Dog Friendly? Yes! On a leash.

The Hike:

AllTrails Map – CLICK HERE

Note: The AllTrails Map states that it is a 10.7 mile hike, however, I tracked 11.3 miles and others have stated in the reviews that it is closer to 11-11.5 miles.

After parking, head towards the far end of the lot until this gate is reached (refer to the Down & Up Trail– this is the same trailhead!):

After passing the gate, follow the dirt trail for a few short moments until the “West Ridge Trail” sign appears on the right. Take this trail up the hill:

After navigating to the top of the first hill, take a moment to soak in the views. The Down & Up Trail can be seen from the top of this first hill:

The next mile is full of uphills and downhills (this will be the most difficult part on the way back, so make sure you’re checking in on yourself). Continue hiking until the West Ridge Trail crosses with the West Ravine Trail, which is marked by several signs. Continue straight:

At around the 3-mile mark, cross this stream:

After this point, some of the best views of the hike can be seen (although it’s tough to beat the views of the first portion of the trail!):

Continue on the trail; this portion also contains several uphills and downhills. The trail eventually turns into the “South Fork of the American River Trail”; continue straight for a short while:

The final portion of the first half of the hike is marked by a sign that reads “TO RIVER ACCESS / EMERGENCY ROUTE”. Take this trail down to Satan’s Cesspool (the name originates from a series of dangerous rapids – CLICK HERE for an article from the LA Times with more information):

The river access is reached once passing through a fallen tree. Finally, Satan’s Cesspool comes into view and the first half of the hike is done!:

After cooling off in the river, take the same trail back to the trailhead. The trail has a few more uphills than downhills on the way back, especially during the final mile of the hike. Take some time to check out the views you may have missed on the way back. At the final half mile, the parking lot comes into view:

Enjoy the hike!