The trailhead for Assassin's Trail, along with the
closest parking area, is located on a strip of private land that follows the
ridgeline, adjacent to Boole road and Cerro Vista road. The trail quickly
departs the private portion and traverses public lands controlled by BLM.
Trails leading from this trailhead are under constant
pressure from four-wheelers and dirt bikers. Concerned about liability
issues, fire hazards and trash problems, the property owner has attempted over
the years to block entry to motorized users. All efforts, including gates,
posts and concrete barriers, have been largely ineffective -- the targeted
users have simply forged new paths around every barrier.
Most recently, very large No-Trespassing signs have been
erected near the main entry points. In conversations with the lawyers
representing the landowner, it is apparent that walkers, mountain bikers and
equestrians are not considered to be part of the problem. Accordingly, the best
advice MVTA can offer is that legitimate recreational, non-motorized use will
not prompt an enforcement action.
Recreational use of this trail, as with all others listed
on this website, is at the user's own risk. If you encounter anyone who claims
you are trespassing or suggests you should not use the trail, please report the
event at once to the MVTA Trails
Where did the name come from?
It's a reference to an unsolved murder that took place adjacent
to this trail. The County Sheriff still lists it as a "cold case." The victim
was one Matthew Bosek,
caretaker and employee of the Esoteric Fraternity in Applegate. Bosek, in his
70s, was shot and killed in August of 1973, while working in a hillside garden
that overlooks the North Fork American River canyon. This trail passes the
The trail today is better remembered for its quiet beauty and
excellent views into the canyon.
This trails follows the western slope of the American River's
North Fork a few hundred feet below the ridgeline. The trail is one of the most
beautiful in the region and is also one of the easiest to access. Views from
the trail take in breathtaking vistas of the wild and scenic river hundreds of
Assassin's Trail is multi-use. The first mile is also used by
dirt bikes and ATVs, but remains in good condition. To avoid causing erosion,
steep sections of this and adjoining trails should not be used during the rainy
season (usually mid-November thru mid-April.)
The first section of this trail is an old wagon road that
follows the contours of the canyon with only gradual changes of elevation. This
section of the route is easy to hike or ride. The footing is even and mostly
free of rocks. For those who choose to continue, though, there is a steep
uphill section of about 1/2 mile, beginning about two miles in. This more
difficult single-track section then joins another wagon road. From there, the
going is once again easy for the remaining two miles until it connects with the
Heather Glen Trail area.
Click on the map above to view a detailed version. The trailhead
is marked by a green star. Driving access is via Boole Road from the I-80
Applegate exit, top left.. The parking locations are shown to the south and
southwest of the trailhead.
Overview: Except for one steep climb on a single-track
trail about 2 miles in, this trail is a wagon road with very little altitude
Trailhead: The saddleback area is on the rim of the
canyon. There is no trail signage, so here is what to look for: From the
Cerro Vista Road parking area, follow the dirt roadway north, up and over
the hill and down to the saddleback area, about 1/4 mile. From the
saddleback, there are trails in five directions:
- South: This is the trail you arrived on, coming from
the Cerro Vista Road parking area, 1/4 mile away.
- East: The Upper Clementine
Trail is the wide graded road that heads downhill.
- Northeast: This is the Assassin's Trail,
initially a single-track trail that is sometimes partly obscured by brush,
but it promptly widens into a wagon road.
- West: A short dirt road connects to Boole Road about
300 ft away. There is no parking available on this roadway or on Boole Road
- North: A wide dirt road follows the ridgeline steeply
uphill. This trail is mostly used by dirt bikers and other motorized vehicles.
It ends about a mile away at a locked gate.
Follow the wagon road for about two miles. The
continuation of the trail is a single track that winds its way uphill for about
a half mile. If you continue on the wagon road instead of the uphill trail, it
ends at a point of land after about a half mile, with only limited views of the
The single track climb T's into another wagon road. The
Assassin's Trail route continues to the right.
About a half mile on, there is a fork in the trail. Take the
left fork to pass above the Assassin's Garden area. (The right fork is an
alternative route that passes below the garden. Both trails link up farther
About 200 yards past the garden, there is a natural
year-round spring on the uphill side of the trail, denoted on the map by the
circle-w symbol. The water is suitable for pets and stock animals only.
Another 1/4 mile or so and you will pass the back gate to the
Esoteric Publishing Society's property. This gate is kept locked, but MVTA
members can use this access to the Asassin's Trail and the Society's interior
trails and parking if they have an ID badge and key. (Contact the MVTA
Trails Coordinator for information.)
About 1/4 mile from the Esoteric gate, the two branches of the
trail rejoin. This is generally where you will start heading back to the
trailhead, via one trail branch or the other.
Extended Route: The wagon road does continue, however,
to the Heather Glen Trail area, with access to Codfish Creek canyon and
the American River.
This trail traverses
Cougar Habitat. Cougar sightings are rare,
but use good sense: Do not walk or ride this trail alone. Keep small
children and pets close at hand.
Poison Oak grows along
much of this trail and hangs out into the trail in places.
Drinking Water must be carried with you. Creek and river
water are not safe for human consumption, no
matter how clean it looks. Drink it only in an emergency and consult a doctor
Directions to the trailhead:
- From I-80, take the Applegate exit and follow the
overpass road East to where it T's into Applegate Road.
- Go left onto Applegate Road; the road passes through a
one-lane tunnel under the railroad.
- Take an immediate right after the tunnel onto Boole
Road. Boole Road is narrow and has poor shoulders, so drive with care.
There is a dirt access road to the trailhead about 1.5 miles along this road,
on your left. There is no signage, so don't be surprised if you miss it.
Parking at the trailhead is discouraged: The short dirt road to the
trailhead, about 300 ft. away, is generally in very poor condition. Use one of
the parking alternatives described next.
Recommended Parking: There are two good parking locations
nearby. Continue on Boole Road past the trailhead access road to where the
pavement forks. Cerro Vista Road to your left; Boole Road continues to your
- Cerro Vista Road: Go left at the fork; less than a quarter mile
up the hill is a flat dirt area to your left. There is room for several cars or
a couple of horse trailers in the flat area. From here, you can reach the
trailhead by taking the graded road that follows the ridgeline.
- Boole Road: Go right at the fork; about 1/2 mile down, you will
cross a cattle guard. About 100 yards farther is a large triangular flat area
between where the paved roadway sweeps to the right and a dirt wagon road
continues straight. This area is private property, but the ranch owners are
friendly. Horseback riders should be aware that it is no longer possible
to skirt the cattle guard as you proceed between this parking area and the