By Jordan Nicholson
John Walker / TNS
Hikers walk along Willow Creek as it spills into a pool on their way to Angel Falls at Bass Lake, Calif. From left: Claudia VanderBie, Mary Clayton, Jean VanderBie (Claudia’s mother) and Jack Sheehan.
Special to The Collegian
Sometimes you just need to get away. Whether it’s a trip to the coast or up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it’s important to spend time away from the fast-paced days of the work week.
I’ve always been a huge advocate for having a little “me time” daydreaming about long trails, mountain peaks and peaceful lakes. You may catch me staring off while standing in the Starbucks line in the Henry Madden Library, but please don’t be alarmed. I’m only thinking about taking a hike.
Sometimes instead of writing a paper that’s due the next day, I’ll open up my wrinkled copy of Jack Kerouac’s “The Dharma Bums” and read about life in a lookout tower, secluded in nature and perched atop a quiet mountain.
You know you’ve thought about it. If not, don’t be discouraged; now is the time to redeem yourself. For the perfect post-spring-break rejuvenation hike, I recommend the Goat Mountain Trail in Bass Lake, and the fact that there is an old lookout tower at the top of this hike is an added bonus.
Despite its name, you won’t see any goats on this trail, sadly, but it is great for a day hike and is roughly four miles round trip.
Throughout the trail there are moments of incline and parts where the trail becomes a bit narrow, but overall the trail is relatively wide and levels off enough in certain areas that you won’t feel too overworked.
I really enjoyed this hike because of the variety of shade and sun exposure. As you make your way up the trail, you can stop and rest in shady groves or you can bask in the sun and attempt to get that base tan you’ve been wanting.
As you climb in elevation, you’ll also have the view of the west side of the lake. This hike is also popular for mountain bikers, so be on the lookout for them while on the trail.
At the top of the trail, you’ll find a lookout tower that is no longer in service, but was once used as a fire lookout. One time I found an old cast iron pan and tube of toothpaste from the 1950s buried beneath the tower, so the place does hold some history.
To get to this hike, drive north on Highway 41 to Oakhurst and then up to Bass Lake, and look for the trailhead starting at the back of the Forks Campground on Road 222.
I’d recommend picking up a map at a local REI store that shows additional hiking areas around Bass Lake. I found them really helpful when locating this trail.
This hike shouldn’t take all day, so take your time and bring some friends to enjoy the views from the lookout tower with a good book, e.g. “The Dharma Bums,” and a nice lunch.
Don’t forget to pack plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes and, despite no mountain goats, enjoy the trail.