Eastman Lake Lakeview Trail Hike

What a great day I had hiking the Lakeview trail despite this skunk. It was a beautiful winter day with blue skies and green grass framing the snow-capped mountains to the east. I was hoping to see eagles but it wasn’t in the maps.

Where: Eastman Lake, US Army Corps of Engineers
Distance: 7.94 miles
Difficulty: easy to moderate, depending on the distance traveled
Elevation range: 585 ′ to 709 ′
Elevation: 750 ′
Date: January 3, 2022
CALTOPO: Eastman Lake Lakeview Trail Hike
Canine trekking: maybe

To get to my adventure, I walked down Raymond Road past Raymond and turned right onto Route 607, following signs for Eastman Lake. The road was very pretty because herds of horses and cows were having fun on these grassy hills, making me smile. I walked past the self-service entrance kiosk, a self-service kiosk where you pop in your money and get a stub to display in your window. You can buy a day pass for $ 5 or an annual pass for $ 40. I had my pass with me which also includes Corps of Engineers locations such as Eastman Lake. If you have an American the Beautiful or a Lifetime Senior Pass, this will allow you to enter at no additional cost.

Opposite the entrance station is a historical marker related to the city of Buchanan. In the 1860s and 1870s, it was a prosperous city of over 1,000 people. They had a post office, shops and bars. Why was this town here? Support the region’s thriving copper mines. After the Civil War the demand for copper was not there and by the 1880s most businesses had closed and people had moved. In 1904, the post office closed.

You can start this hike at either end of the 4 mile Lakeview trail, where I started at the lower trailhead or at the upper end of the trail at Raymond Bridge off Route 613 where it crosses the Chowchilla River. To get to the start of the trail I started, I took the asphalt road that runs along the south side of the Eastman Lake Recreation Area and followed the signs for the Lakeview Trail.

There is a little parking lot next to this Trailhead and as soon as I got out of the car I took a deep breath and smelled the unmistakable scent of skunk water. I must have startled him when I walked in and looked around trying to spot him. Around this time, a Ranger was doing his morning rounds and we waved to him, the only person I saw on my hike. I walked cautiously to the trailhead at the bottom of the trail, wondering if my skunk friend was in my way. I didn’t want to surprise him and risk smelling the skunk for my hike, but this skunk was long gone.

Frosted grass lined the trail as it meandered along the lake. I was very curious about the level of Eastman Lake and was disappointed that the lake was very low. How about a little piece of information on the lake? Most of the lake is in Madera County, but a small part is in Mariposa County. The lake was named after Judge HV Eastman (1891-1972) who had served as secretary-director of the Chowchilla Water District. The Buchanan Dam on the Chowchilla River is an earthen dam, 218 feet high with a length of 1746 feet at the crest, with a maximum capacity of 150,000 acre-feet of water. The United States Army Corps of Engineers created this project for flood control and irrigation in 1975. Fishing is a popular activity on this lake with the California Dept. of Fish and Game declaring the lake a largemouth bass fishing trophy.

I think the trail was very pretty with the green grass coming up over the foothills.

I continued on the trail, glancing at the lake as I made my way to its entrance.

Every now and then I had a glimpse of the snow-capped mountains in front of me.

The lake did not extend as far east as usual.

The Chowchilla River looked like a small stream as it entered the upper end of the lake.

At almost 4 miles I could see the Raymond Bridge and made my way down and upstream.

This was the end of the trail and the turn-around point for me, but it’s also the start of the trail some of my friends like to start off of Ben Hur Road.

I made my way back down the trail, checking out the view of what I call the ‘gorge’ on my way.

And I found a surprise on the trail with these little mushrooms I don’t know what it is but they were pretty to look at.

I went down to the launch pad on the way out to see if any bald eagles or royal eagles were nesting or perching in the oak trees there, but they weren’t there. Sometimes I can see them flying but they weren’t in the sky that day. They have been nesting in this lake since 1993. I have heard that the eagles in this lake do not migrate but reside there year round. I don’t know where they were when I visited, but looked for them at the start and end of my hike.

Saw other hikers, runners, bird hunters, horses, bikers, and dogs on this shared trail, but I was alone that day. I like to hike this trail when it is cooler, before the rattlesnakes were active. I think there are probably about a million in this area. Well, maybe not that much, but there are plenty. There was no water on the trail that day for the dogs so you will have to bring your own or venture out to the lake.

Canine hiking? May be

Dogs are welcome here but I didn’t bring mine as I knew the water sources for them would be limited. There were no sources of running water at this time of year. Also, I wasn’t sure the lake water was healthy for them as it stagnated somewhat at this time of year and it would be a short hike down to the lake. On previous hikes I have seen lots of snake tracks. They are here! Other animals live in this area as well, so you want to be in control of your dog. But earlier in the year it could be a good dog hike for us. Later in the year it can get quite hot and you may need to bring dog water or visit the lake periodically. You can check the link below for more rules and information.


What is a doarama? This is a video playback of the GPS track superimposed on an interactive 3-dimensional map. If you “grab” the map, you can tilt or rotate it and look at it from different viewing angles. With the rabbit and turtle buttons, you can also speed it up, slow it down or pause it.

Eastman Lake Lakeview Trail Doarama

Card and profile:

CALTOPO has some free options for mapping and here’s a link to my hike this week: CALTOPO: Eastman Lake’s Lakeview Trail Hike

Eastman Lake Lakeview Trail Topographic Map

Eastman Lake Lakeview Trail Profile


Codorniz Recreation Area Campground

Recreation at Eastman Lake

Eastman Lake Wikipedia

Previous blogs in this area:

Hike with tarantulas along Eastman Lake November 23, 2020

Hiked along Eastman Lake on the Lakeview Trail January 30, 2019

Hiked along Eastman Lake March 17, 2017

Hiked with Raven and Sally along Eastman Lake February 24, 2016

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