To be honest, I've not done this trail, or hiked this park for that matter, but have been wanting to do so for quite some time. Everyone I asked told me it was too hot to do in the summer, so I figured now was the perfect time. Plus, I found a great write up about it in the SacTown Magazine:
We'll hike West Ridge and Long Valley Trails - the article puts the total distance at 4.2 miles r/t with an elevation gain of 350ft. Please note, this trail is listed at moderate/intermediate and probably not suitable for kids under 5 unless in a backpack!
Here's the description:
After a brief jog on the main road, head up the immediate incline of the West Ridge Trail, where you’ll hear the pleasant clank of cowbells coming from the green-canopied ravine on your right. The path slims into a star-thistle-lined single track as you first witness the brilliant blue slash of the American River ribboning through the hills on your left. When you descend (stay alert for overzealous mountain bikers, horseback riders and trail runners), hang a right at the “American River Trail” sign. You’ll see a similar sign about 10 minutes later, and when you do, take the switchback down the hill and you’ll find yourself at a secluded sandy beach on a luxuriantly slow section of the river, complete with a single wooden table that’s ideal for a private picnic. When you’re done snacking and soaking your feet, head back up and take the trail in the opposite direction. You will eventually see a series of weathered structures, including a dilapidated two-room ranch house—the remains of a movie set, used in 2005’s Memoirs of a Geisha. The entrance for the Long Valley Trail is right there; it will take you past verdant patches of flowering reeds—signposts for an underground stream—before depositing you back on the main road to your car.
Directions: Take Hwy 50 to Placerville. Turn left onto Hwy 49.
After passing through Coloma, turn left on Pedro Hill Rd., and take a slight left into the gravel parking lot
What to bring: Lunch, kids, layers of clothing, camera, sense of humor and a copy of the trail map which I'll post the link to just below: