An Idyllic Summer Weekend Getaway in Kirkwood, CA

Want a step-by-step guide to enjoying the perfect summer weekend getaway in Kirkwood, California? Look no further!

Greg Heil


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Are you looking for a weekend getaway from the city, but want to skip the crowds of the more popular tourist destinations? Then Kirkwood, California needs to be on your short list!

While the masses tend to flock to the gorgeous shoes of Lake Tahoe or the renowned rock walls of Yosemite National Park, the small resort town of Kirkwood, California—located directly between these two tourist hotspots—remains largely overlooked. Sure, the word “overlooked” might be a little strong, as Kirkwood is a renowned ski resort that’s home to a bike park in the summer… but compared to Tahoe and Yosemite, Kirkwood is a diamond in the rough.

If you enjoy both hiking and mountain biking, this guidebook will give you the perfect weekend itinerary.

After leaving work early and driving to Kirkwood, check in to your lodging and then head to the Emigrant Trail for a mellow evening walk along the shores of Caples Lake.

On Saturday morning, head to the bike park to shred some laps. Beginners can stick to the chill Scout’s Route area on the lower lift, while advanced riders can head up high and drop into the Vista Trail, or take the Whiskey Shots Trail to the Whiskey Trail. Bonus points for actually taking some whiskey shots at the bar during lunch!

In the afternoon, enjoy your whiskey buzz by hiking to Lake Margaret and going for a swim in the beautiful blue waters. Hang out at the lake and enjoy a lazy afternoon after a hard day of shredding—you earned it!

On Sunday, head for the hills and conquer the summit of 9,400-foot Thunder Mountain. There’s no better way to wrap up an excellent weekend in the mountains than by bagging a peak! Exactly how you choose to conquer Thunder Mountain is up to you. Hike or trail run to the top if you prefer, or mountain bike instead. If you choose to mountain bike, dropping down into Horseshoe Canyon is a popular descent off the summit.

Of course, Kirkwood has many more trails to be hiked and biked, but if you’re looking for a highlights reel of the area that you can enjoy during a quick weekend getaway, you can’t go wrong with these top recommendations.


Scout's Route

An intermediate descent down from the top of the Snowkirk Lift.

Upper Corral

A more technical, but less-steep finish to the Vista descent.

Whiskey Shots -> Whiskey

An advanced top-to-bottom run at Kirkwood Bike Park via Caples Crest, Whiskey Shots, and Whiskey.

Lake Margaret Trail

Bring your swimsuits and fishing gear, it's a beautiful lake! And don't forget insect repellent.