Third Divide Trail is a moderately difficult trail at an elevation of 3,400 feet. A few hundred yards after the beginning trailhead at Third Divide, the trail crosses Lavezzola Creek and climbs moderates for 2 miles through a beautifully wooded area until it reaches the ridge top. Another 0.2 miles brings you to the junction with the Second Divide Trail and Butcher Ranch Trails. The Second Divide Trail follows Pauley Creek down the canyon.
This area has a wide variety of birds, wildlife and flowers. Pauley Creek falls rapidly and the short spur trails leading to the creek are well worth exploring for picnicking, fishing and sightseeing.
There are several possibilities to explore in this area. Backpackers may choose to follow Second or Third Divide Trails to the junction of the Butcher Ranch and Pauley Creek Trails. The Butcher Ranch Trail offers beautiful displays of spring flowers. The scenic Pauley Creek Trail accesses Gold Valley.
Day hikers who can arrange transportation may wish to be dropped off at the Third Divide Trailhead and hike the loop to their vehicles at Second Divide.
Directions from Downieville: Travel on Upper Main Street. Approximately 0.5 miles east of the town Post Office, cross the Downie River Bridge. Continue on the dirt road 2.7 miles to the Second Divide trailhead on the right. To access the Third Divide Trail, continue another 1.5 miles to a well-defined road fork. Take the right branch, entering Empire Ranch private land, and proceed 0.2 miles to the trailhead sign on the right. Please park your vehicle well off the road and respect the rights of private property owners.
April through November
(NOTE: During mild Winters this trail can be accessed year round.)