Photo © Dick James Photography
At an elevation of 7,600 feet Pacific Valley is a scenic U-shaped glacial valley, that has been a long time favorite stop for photographers, hikers, campers, and viewfinders. The valley was shaped during the Ice Age from a glacier that spilled north from the Highland Lakes region. Pacific Creek beautifully wanders through the meadow, where a U.S. Forest Service campground is located. The valley hosts many species of wildflowers in the early summer months. It also has major trail networks that include the hikes to Bull Run Peak and Henry Peak, both volcanic remnants that depart from the south end of the valley.
Pacific Valley is also home to what is perhaps the oldest existing log cabin on the Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway or Hwy 4. The cabin is denoted by the initials A.G. and the date 1856, and may have been built by Augustus Gebhardt, a butcher from Calaveras County. In the early days, butchers owned their own livestock, keeping them on their foothill ranches during the winter and spring, and taking them to high country meadows to enjoy the green grasses of the summer months. Pacific Valley has other cabins that date to the 1920's.
Pacific Valley is composed of alpine meadow and forest. It is located within the Stanislaus National Forest and is adjacent to the Mokelumne River, close to Mosquito Lakes. There is good fishing in Pacific Creek and the Mokelumne River, as well as good early season deer hunting. Carry your own water or filtration system, as there is no drinking water (there are vault toilets).
The Pacific Valley trailhead and Campground are located on Pacific Valley Road off of Highway 4, midway between Lake Alpine and Ebbetts Pass. Equestrians with horse trailers may camp at the southern end of the campground, near the trailhead. There is also a great vista from here, if you are not inclined to hike into the valley. This area is closed in the winter.