Driving Interstate 80 east you may look out at the many peaks and wonder what it looks like from the top. I can tell you the view is awesome from the top of Signal Peak, one of the many mountain peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.
You may guess the name comes from the many antennas on the top but not so. The peak has another attraction although not much to see. It is a masonry shell of a lookout tower. I can only imagine waking up to the view from this location in every season. Views of Anderson Peak and Tinker Knob are a couple of favorites.
The 3.2-mile trek up doesn’t seem like much but keep in mind the 1,800-foot elevation gain. We are climbing a mountain. My sons’ favorite part was snow sledding down the mountain side. It was late in the season so there wasn’t enough snow to carry them too far to scare me.
To get there take Interstate 80 east about 40 miles from Auburn to the Cisco Grove exit. Turn left over the freeway. Turn left (west) on the frontage road, almost to the store, about a quarter mile. In the winter, buy a permit in the store and park in the plowed lot.
In summer, Fordyce Lake road begins slightly before the entry kiosk to the campground, on the north side of the road. The signage will direct you to Woodchuck Flat. If you don't want to drive off-road, you can choose to leave your car here and continue on foot. If you have a high-clearance vehicle, you can press on. Continue onto Fordyce Road approximately 1.15 miles to where to trail begins.
Mary West is author of the book “Day Hiker — The Gold Country Trail Guide.” The book is a collection of the Day Hiker columns found in the Auburn Journal from 2016-2018 where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was a recipient of a 2017 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column by the outdoor writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.