Guided Sunset Hikes to Cougar Rock

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Watch the sunset from the top of Cougar Rock on this intermediate hike led by members of the Arnold Rim Trail Association. Distance is about 4 miles total, with 900 feet of elevation gain. If you haven’t done one of these hikes, you owe it to yourself to join the fun. They are scheduled to be near the day of the full moon each month, and they are special!


1) This is an intermediate level hike with 900 feet of elevation gain, the equivalent of a ninety story building. We take plenty of time with frequent stops. That said, it is not a hike for beginners. Please assess your level of conditioning. If you would struggle with a ninety story building, even with stops, please take a few weeks of regular training to make yourself ready. It’ll be worth the investment!

2) If this is your first time driving to the parking area, please do not approach on Valley View Drive from Avery Sheep Ranch Road. Instead please make your approach starting in Arnold by turning off Highway 4 onto Lakemont Drive followed by a quick left turn onto Valley View Drive. More travel instructions are below.

No sign-up needed, hike proceeds even if cloudy, but rain cancels. (And if the weather has been wet, please see caution below about road condition on dirt portion of Valley View Drive.) Bring layers, snack, water, bug repellant and flashlight as return hike is in the dark. If you sometimes use walking sticks, please bring them because about a quarter of a mile of the return downhill hike is rutted. We gather at the trailhead parking area one hour and forty five minutes before sunset, and depart one and a half hours before sunset. Return to the vehicles about three hours after departing, give or take.

Please arrive at the parking lot at least fifteen minutes before departure time for introductions (this hike attracts wonderful folks) and a brief orientation by the hike leader, as departure times are prompt:

April 28th, Saturday, arrive by 6:00pm, depart promptly at 6:15pm
May 27th, Sunday, full moon at arrive by 6:20pm, depart promptly at 6:35pm
June 23rd, Saturday, arrive by 6:40pm, hike departs promptly at 6:55pm
July 27th, Friday, arrive by 6:25, hike departs promptly at 6:40pm
Aug 25th, Saturday, arrive by 5:50pm, hike departs promptly at 6:05pm
Sept 22nd, Saturday, arrive by 5:00pm, hike departs promptly at 5:15pm
Oct 20th, Saturday, arrive by 4:20pm, hike departs promptly at 4:35pm

(Return to vehicles about three hours after departing.)

The parking area is at the intersection of Valley View Drive and 5N95Y. Drive 1.50 miles on Valley View Drive from the intersection of Lakemont Drive and Valley View Drive in Arnold. The first mile of Valley View Drive is paved, and the last 0.45 miles is dirt. Pay close attention to stay on the paved section of Valley View Drive and not get off on one of the side streets, because Valley View Drive curves around quite a bit during that first mile while it is paved. Please note there is no sign announcing that you have arrived at the parking area at the intersection of Valley View Drive with 5N95Y, but you will see the dirt road 5N95Y coming in from the right and also the parking area with picnic tables at that location.

Here’s a link to Google Maps that shows the drive from the intersection of Lakemont Drive and Valley View Drive in Arnold to the intersection of Valley View Drive and Forest Rte 5N95Y.

Here’s a link that shows you the location of the trailhead.

The GPS coordinates of the parking area:
North 38 degrees 13.171, West 120 degrees 22.707

Caution: The last half mile of Valley View Drive is dirt and can be very slippery and muddy when wet due to the clay nature of the soil. In fact, when slick and wet, it can be difficult for two-wheel drive vehicles to climb back up the hill from the trailhead to the paved section of Valley View Drive after the hike, a hill that presents no difficulty whatsoever in dry weather.

Questions? Email Pictures of the sunset hikes are often posted to the ARTA facebook page.