The St. Peter’s Dome hike is off the beaten path but is quite short (less than two miles round trip) and offers great views and some rock scrambling (if you desire to get to the very top). Our family did this hike way back in 2009 when our oldest was four (he’s now almost thirteen!) and we did it again this spring so I wanted to update the blog post I’d written about it and add some new photos.
The trailhead is on Gold Camp Road about a mile past the intersection of Old Stage and Gold Camp (see below for detailed directions). You’ll be driving up about eight miles up Old Stage Road to get there, and be forewarned that the road is curvy with lots of washboarding and potholes, though it’s totally passable by most vehicles.
The sign at the trailhead for St. Peter’s Dome indicates it’s a 0.7 mile hike. The first part of the trail is relatively flat, and then it begins climbing and the switchbacks begin. As you near the top, the trail becomes pretty narrow and there is a lot of loose rock which can be challenging for kids.
When you get near the top, you might realize that you’re content to check out the view from near the top – if you want to go all the way to the top of the dome, you’ll need to use a knotted rope to get up the next boulder. (The rope seems sturdy, but who knows how long it’s been up there!)
When we were here most recently in spring 2018, we had a harder time locating the rope than we remembered previously, but finally found it – and ultimately opted not to go up to the top mostly because no one was excited about having to come back down the same way. There have been staircases to get the top in the past, apparently, but nothing other than the remnants of an old metal staircase remains.
There are some large boulders that you can climb on to get a view over the ridge into the valley, though Jeremy told me that it was somewhat ironic that the place where you park has as good as or better views than the top of the hike. ;)
Still, it’s a fun hike that’s quite short but still feels like you actually went on a hike!
How to get to the St. Peter’s Dome trailhead: since part of Gold Camp Road is closed because of a tunnel collapse years ago, you’ll need to take Old Stage Road to Gold Camp Road. Once you reach the point where Old Stage merges into Gold Camp, drive about a mile to reach the St. Peter’s Dome trailhead. It’s easy to find, on the northeast side of the road there will be a small parking area and some large boulders. There’s also a small sign that indicates where the trail is.
Here’s a Google map. Note that the St. Peter’s Dome trailhead starts on the part of the map where it says “Eagle’s Nest”.
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