The Ebbetts Pass Scenic Celebration, or Hermitfest, offers the opportunity for music and mountain fans to “Come Play on the Pass” and enjoy one of the last free, outdoor, live music events of the year in celebration of the beautiful Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway. The centerpiece of the celebration is a day long, live music event in Hermit Valley which is affectionately known as “Hermitfest” but visitors should definitely make a weekend of it and spend some time checking out the entire Scenic Byway from Arnold to Markleeville.
The Ebbetts Pass Scenic Celebration, locally known as “Hermitfest” since it takes place in Hermit Valley, is all about the music. It begins around noon and will officially end at 7 pm but those of you who have attended before know that the acoustic music often continues around the campfire long into the evening with musicians playing together in all sorts of combinations. Food and beverages and the work of a few local artisans are available for admiration and purchase.
Hermit Valley is a beautiful little spot with plenty of opportunity for hiking and playing in the river as well as listening to some great music in the middle of the forest. Fall weather is generally warm and sunny but a quick afternoon rain shower is always a possibility in the mountains and you’ll want to make sure you bring warm clothing as the mornings and evenings can be quite chilly. Primitive campsites are available on a first come basis for those wishing to spend the night. There are sites in the immediate vicinity of the event as well as a few more on the river side of the road nearby which should afford a bit more privacy. While your dogs are welcome, please bring only well socialized dogs and keep them on a six foot leash.
While planning your participation in the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Celebration, be sure to enjoy some of Ebbetts Pass’ many attractions. On the Arnold side you may want to stop and have breakfast, visit the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum, hike a portion of the Arnold Rim Trail or stop in at Calaveras Big Trees State Park to admire the giant sequoias on your way to or from Hermit Valley.
Hermit Valley is located on Highway 4 in the Stanislaus National Forest about 38 miles east of Arnold and 23 miles west of Markleeville on the North Fork of the Mokelumne River at about the 7000 foot elevation. If you haven’t driven the pass before, remember that Ebbetts Pass is a scenic byway for good reason. The higher elevation portion of Highway 4 between Lake Alpine on the west and Silver Creek on the east is narrow, twisty, steep and so worth the drive with beautiful mountain views and many opportunities to get out of your car and take a closer look. The route over the top is not recommended for large RVs or trailers.
Ebbetts Pass was honored with National Scenic Byway status in 2005. It is one of only seven nationally-designated byways in California. The Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway Association (EPSBA) is the non-profit organization tasked with preserving, enhancing and promoting the unique resources of the byway. The EPSBA has developed a guidebook for the area which you can purchase from their website.
Get a taste of the event from the video below from 2014’s Ebbetts Pass Scenic Celebration, affectionately known as Hermitfest.
Related links: Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway