The beginning of the trail follows an old washed out roadbed for a quarter mile before climbing a series of switchbacks. The trail is mostly under deep tree cover along rocky ground. There is a significant climb of approximately 700 feet to the edge of lake Spaulding. In the spring there are substantial wet areas and small streams to ford.
About 3 miles in you will need to cross under a large pipeline (penstock). Follow the pipline up the hill approximately 150 feet before continuing on eastward to the lake overlook. Alternately, follow the pipe line south to a small foot bridge that takes you to the overlook near PG& E's small hydeo-electric power plant. Return by the same route.