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Hiking, Biking, & Equestrian Trails in Placer

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of living, working, or playing in Placer County is the opportunity to enjoy the rich natural resources of our communities and our National Forest.

 

The abundance of lakes and rivers, mountains and meadows, forests and fields make for a wealth of opportunities to explore the plant and animal life.

The beautiful landscapes of the Gold Country can be enjoyed by looking out the window of a car as well as by walking, hiking, biking or riding horseback along one of the many trails.  Placer County is home to the Auburn State Recreation Area, containing numerous trails along the scenic rivers, canyons, lakes and meadowlands.  The Tahoe National Forest has many nature and interpretive trails. There are seasonal guided activities such as Springtime Wildflower Walks and Star-Gazing parties. One of the self-guided tours is the Placer County Big Trees Grove – the northernmost grove of Giant Sequoia. 

Placer County is home to abundant wildlife – birds, fish, bugs, bears, deer, mountain lions, and more. You name it; we’ve probably got it. With both Auburn and Meadow Vista offering official bird sanctuaries, bird watching options are excellent.  For the fishing enthusiast, there are several reservoirs and rivers stocked with varieties of bass and trout.

Hidden Falls Regional Park, operated by the Placer County Parks and Grounds Department, contains hiking, running, biking, and equestrian trails, ranging in length from .1 to 3.7 miles, with difficulty ratings from ADA Accessible to Easy to Moderate to Difficult.  Visit Hidden Falls Regional Park Trail System which shows a detailed, color-coded map all of the trails in the 1,200-acre park.  Also, see the map  showing directions to  Hidden Falls Regional Park, 7587 Mears Place, Auburn, 530 886-4901.

Trail maps and directions for these trails and more are available at the Placer County Visitors Bureau / California Welcome Center, 1103 High Street, Auburn, CA 95603, 530 887-2111 or 866 752-2371.  See below for trail descriptions, directions and links to the website to download detailed trail maps.

Disclaimer: The information for all of our resources is supplied by other organizations, California State Parks, Auburn State Recreation Area and the USDA Forest Service. Some information such as trail mileage may not be accurate, and we have no control nor do we have the authority to alter the information provided by these organizations.

American River Canyon Trails

H = Hiking ... B = Biking ... E = Equestrian ... P = Picnicking

(Courtesy of and with permission from Canyon Keepers Organization www.canyonkeepers.org)

Other Trails in the American River Ranger District of the Tahoe National Forest

American Canyon Trail

  • Distance: 2.4 miles to river; 1 hour down, 2 hours up (hiking)
  • Difficulty: First 1.7 mi:  easy down, moderate up; last 0.7 mi: mod. down, difficult up

Description

This steep trail has everything needed for a great day of exploration: rugged mountain canyons, a beautiful stream with waterfalls, a wide variety of plant and animal life, gold rush era history, and panoramic views of the Middle Fork American River.  This is an excellent hike for bird lovers and photographers - even artists with drawing pads and paint boxes. Remember your binoculars, camera, sunscreen, water and a lunch to enjoy while you savor the scenery.

Directions

Trailhead is on Pilgrim Way, east of Cool.  Take Hwy 49 south to Cool. Turn left on Hwy 193 at blinking red light and drive 5.7 miles. Turn left on Pilgrim Way and look for trailhead on right side just before the gated entrance to Auburn Lake Trails.  Curbside parking is available along Pilgrim Way on both sides of trailhead, and overflow parking can use private land on the left side of Pilgrim Way 100 yards before trailhead.


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Applegate to Lake Clementine Trail

  • Distance: 2.4 miles to river one way; 1 hour down, 2 hours up (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy down, moderate up

Description

This old road provides a wide, easy route from Applegate to the waters of Lake Clementine. Much of the trail is in the shade of conifers and oaks. It affords a bird's eye view of the Lake Clementine beach area, as well as scenic views up and down the North Fork American River. A side trip can be made to an old lime kiln.

Directions

Parking is on Boole Rd 1.6 miles off I-80 at the Applegate Exit. At end of exit ramp turn right onto Crother Rd towards Canyon. Turn left at Applegate Rd. go east for 0.3 miles. Just after the concrete railroad overpass, turn right onto Boole Rd. Go south for 1.3 miles, passing a retreat center, Hilltop Ct & Roland Dr. Trailhead is an old dirt road on the left, with 4 blue posts across it, before a big black oak with a yellow sign. There is very limited parking along Boole Rd. There is a small turnout with limited parking on Cerro Vista, which is the next road on the left.


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Clarks Hole Trail

  • Distance: 0.6 miles one way; 20 min. (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Description

This is a great family hike to a large, deep swimming hole on the North Fork American River, upriver of the confluence.  In the early 1900s, Clarks Hole (also called Clarks Pool) was managed by the City of Auburn as a municipal swimming pool, complete with concession stands and lifeguards.  Today, it is still popular with Auburn locals for picnics and swim parties, although there are no lifeguards.

Directions

Trailhead is 1¾ miles south of ASRA Park headquarters. Take Hwy 49 south to Old Foresthill Road at the bottom of the canyon. Continue straight for ¼ mile and park on the left. Trailhead is just beyond the parking area at the green gate (#137).


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Codfish Falls Trail

  • Distance: 1.7 miles to falls (hiking); ¾ hour
  • Difficulty: Easy, but trail is narrow at times with steep drop-offs to river

Description

This easy trail provides beautiful views of the North Fork American River and leads to an impressive 40' waterfall.  An excellent brochure that details the flora and fauna on this trail is available at a discovery marker located ¼ mile from the trailhead.  The pamphlet was written and illustrated by Heather Mehl, under the supervision of Eric Peach and PARC, for her 2001 Senior Project at Colfax High School.

Directions

Trailhead is on Ponderosa Way, 6 miles south of Weimar.  From Auburn, take I-80 east to Weimar Cross Road, turn right on Canyon Way. After about ½ mile, the road turns left and becomes Ponderosa Way. Proceed to parking area on right just before Ponderosa Bridge over the North Fork American River. Trailhead is beyond parking area.  Caution: Ponderosa Way is recommended for high clearance vehicles for the last 2½ miles. Passage during winter can be difficult after rains.


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Confluence Trail

  • Distance: 1.8 miles one way; ½ hour down; 1 hour up (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Description

This trail provides a short scenic out and back excursion through rolling chaparral and open grasslands that is dotted with wildflowers in the spring.  It offers the best views of the waters of the Middle Fork American River above the confluence area, as well as unique views of the quarry site on the opposite bank.  It is often combined with other trails to make a longer excursion.

Directions

Trailhead East parking is on Old Foresthill Rd. From the Foresthill Bridge, drive approx. 3 miles towards Foresthill.  Turn right onto Old Foresthill Road at the sign for Cool, Placerville, & Hwy 49.  Drive down for approx. 1.5 miles.  Parking is on the left in a small dirt turnoff in front of a bulletin board, just before the entrance to the Mammoth Bar OHV area.  This area may also be reached by driving approx. 1.5 miles up the Old Foresthill Road from the confluence area.  This turnout also serves the trailhead for the Culvert Trail that begins across the road.  To reach the Confluence Trailhead, [N38-55-235; W121-00-739] walk down the Mammoth Bar Rd for 0.2 mile, past the self-pay kiosk for OHVs.  Trailhead is on your right behind the yellow gate [#107].

Trailhead West parking is on Old Foresthill Rd at confluence area, 1¾ miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters. Take Hwy 49 from Auburn south to Old Foresthill Road at the bottom of the canyon.  Continue straight for ¼ mile. Cross the curved Old Foresthill Bridge, and park on the right. Trailhead is between large "Warning Strong Current" sign and a port-a-potty. At fork, go left on the trail above the beach.


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Confluence Interpretive Trail

Self-Guided Historic Bridges & Nature Walk
  • Distance:  2.6 miles total; Two independent sections (0.8 mile loop and 1.8 miles out and back)
  • Difficulty:  Easy hike; nearly flat except for 0.2 mile uphill on loop section

Description

The confluence of the North and Middle Forks American River affords a marvelous opportunity to view the natural wonders of this river canyon environment and to glimpse the past via the remains of its historic bridges.  The first section of the trail goes from Marker Posts #1 to #4.  This short 0.8 mile loop encompasses the sites of five bridges (two still remain. For the second section, which goes from Marker Posts #5 to #10, walk from the SE side of the old Foresthill Bridge up the North Fork to the site of Clarks Pool (0.9 mile) and back.

Directions

This trail begins at the confluence area, about 3 miles below Auburn. From Lincoln Way in Auburn, take Hwy 49 (El Dorado Street) to the bottom of the canyon. Continue straight past the Hwy 49 Bridge for mile and park either on the right or left side of the road. Start the self-guided trial by walking on the south (left side of the Old Foresthill Rd. towards the Hwy 49 Bridge marker post #1 (about 30 yards before the bridge).


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Culvert Trail

  • Distance:  1 mile one way; ½ hour down, ¾ hour up (hiking). Add 1 mile (½ hour) from Trailhead North
  • Difficulty:  Moderate

Description

This trail offers a short out and back excursion through rolling oak woodlands and open grasslands that are dotted with wildflowers in the spring.  It is most frequently used to extend an outing or link with other trails.  It is the safest way to traverse the busy Foresthill Rd to go from the North Fork American River to the Middle Fork American River side of the Foresthill Divide.

Directions

Trailhead North parking is on Foresthill Rd, ½ mile east of the Foresthill Bridge, at the large parking area on the left, just after the bridge. The trailhead to the Fuel Break Trail that accesses the upper [north] end of the Culvert Trail is behind the green gate [#114] at the end of the parking strip farthest from the Foresthill Bridge. There is very limited parking at the terminus of the Fuel Break Trail in a dirt turnout off the Lake Clementine Road next to the green gate [#146].

Trailhead South is on Old Foresthill Rd.  From the Foresthill Bridge drive approx. 3 miles towards Foresthill.  Turn right onto Old Foresthill Road at the sign for Cool, Placerville, and Hwy 49.  Parking is on the left approx. 1½ miles from the turnoff in front of a bulletin board, just before the entrance to the Mammoth Bar OHV area.  Trailhead is across the road from the parking area and bulletin board.  This area may also be reached by driving approx. 1½ miles up the Old Foresthill Road from the confluence area.


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Foresthill Divide Loop Trail

  • Distance: 8.2 miles; 3.7 hours (hiking). Shorter loops are also possible. Add 1 mile (0.4 hours) from Trailhead West.
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Description

This loop offers some beautiful views of Lake Clementine and both the North Fork and Middle Fork American Rivers.  Straddling the Foresthill Divide at elevations ranging from 1600 to 1900 feet, it provides a diversity of flora as it passes through all four American River Canyon eco-systems: yellow pine forest, foothill woodland, riparian woodland, and chaparral.  It also passes through open grasslands that are abundant with wildflowers in the spring.

Directions

Trailhead West is on Foresthill Rd, 3½ miles east of Foresthill Bridge, at a large parking area on the right (known locally as the Grizzly Bear House turnout).

Trailhead East is on Foresthill Rd, 7 miles east of Foresthill Bridge (0.2 miles past Drivers Flat Road) at a large parking area on the left.  Both trailheads have a port-a-potty.

Disclaimer: The information for all of our resources is supplied by other organizations, California State Parks, Auburn State Recreation Area and the USDA Forest Service. Some information such as trail mileage may not be accurate, and we have no control nor do we have the authority to alter the information provided by these organizations.


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Fuel Break Trail

  • Distance: 1½ miles one way; ¾ hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description

This wide easy trail passes oak meadows, foothill chaparral and woodlands, and provides several nice ridge top views.  It connects with the Lake Clementine Rd, the Culvert Trail and the Lakeview Connector Trail.  It is often used in conjunction with them for longer excursions.

Directions

Trailhead is off Foresthill Road just past the Foresthill Bridge.  Take I-80 to the Foresthill Exit.  Dirve towards Foresthill, and in less than a mile, cross the Foresthill Bridge.  Just after the bridge, the trailhead parking area is visible on the left side of the road.  The trailhead is behind the green gate (#114) at the end of the parking strip farthest from the Foresthill Bridge.  There is very limited parking at the terminus in a dirt turnout off the Lake Clementine Rd, next to a green gate (#146).

Disclaimer: The information for all our resources is supplied by other organizations, California Park & Recreation, and the U.S. Forestry Service. Some information such as trail mileage may not be accurate, and we have no control nor do we have the the authority to alter the information.


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Indian Creek Trail

  • Distance: 2 miles one way; 1 hour (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy, but the trail is narrow with steep drop-offs to the river. Hardest portion is reaching the trailhead on the west side of Shirttail Creek.

Description

This easy trail offers a fun summer hike.  It allows you to enjoy the Amerian River Canyon without having to hike in or out.  It offers great views up and down the canyon as well as many opportunities to take a dip.  Canyon live oaks and other foothill trees keep much of the trail in the shade which is welcome in the summer.  You are seldom out of sight or sound of the river.

Directions

Trailhead is off Yankee Jim's Road on the North Fork American River near Shirttail Creek.  Take I-80 to Colfax.  Exit at Colfax and turn right (west) onto Canyon Way.  After approx. 0.8 miles, turn left (south) onto Yankee Jim's Road.  The road will quickly become gravel.  Yankee Jim's Road is narrow, twisting, and without guardrails.  It descends rapidly to the North Fork of the American River.  Drive slowly.  Hikers, rafters and miners frequently use the road, and visibility around the narrow curves is limited.  For those not driving, there are some great views down the cliff on the right.  At the river, there is limited parking on either side of the 1930 single vehicle suspension bridge.  Cross the bridge, by car or on foot depending on parking availability.  After crossing the bridge, look for rock stairs down to the North Fork American River on the left.  The first set of stairs is wide but uneven.  Another set of stairs, not as wide but generally in better shape, is just ahead around the bend.  The trail proper is on the other side of Shirtail Creek.  Depending on water level, wade or boulder hop across Shirttail Creek.  Once on the far side of the creek you will see the trail up the bank from the river.


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Lake Clementine Access Trail

  • Distance: 1½ miles one way; ¾ hour (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy down, moderate up

Description

This is a good year 'round trail due to its wide, gentle gradient and alternating stretches of sun and shade.  This wide pleasant trail traverses typical foothills woodland while providing superb views of Lake Clementine and Lime Rock as it wends its way down to lake level.  It is the only trail that goes down to the lake above the dam and below the Upper Lake Clementine day use area.

Directions

Trailhead is on Lake Clementine Road off Foresthill Road.  Take I-80 to the Foresthill exit.  From the signal, proceed towards Foresthill for approx 3.2 miles.  Turn left on the Lake Clementine Road.  Shortly after turning, the parking area is on the right.  The trailhead is behind the green gate (#115) about 200 feet back up the road.


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Lake Clementine Trail

  • Distance: 1.9 miles; 1 hour each way (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy, except for short stretch where trail narrows due to wash out

Description

This easy trail is ideal for a panoramic hike along the North Fork American River, much of it in the shade of conifers and oaks and in close proximity to riparian flora and chaparral.  Several side trails lead down to the river, the last one descending to a deep pool beneath the North Fork Dam where spectacular views of water cascading over the dam can be seen.

Directions

Trailhead is at confluence area.  1¾ miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters.  Take Hwy 49 from Auburn south to Old Foresthill Road at the bottom of the canyon.  Continue straight for ¼ mile, cross the curved Old Foresthill Bridge, and park on the right.  Trailhead is on the left across from the parking area behind the green gate (#139).


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Lakeview Connector Trail

  • Distance: 3.6 miles; 1½ hrs each way (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Description

This fairly level trail connects Lake Clementine Road to the Foresthill Divide Loop Trail, meandering through areas of chemise and foothill woodlands on the south side of the canyon above Lake Clementine.  It affords some beautiful views of the lake, and it is one of the few places to see groupings of both madrone and manzanita trees.  Caution:  Poison Oak is plentiful along this trail.

Directions

Trailhead is on Lake Clementine Road.  From I-80, take Foresthill Exit and continue on Foresthill Road towards Foresthill for 3.2 miles; turn left on Lake Clementine Road.  A tiny parking area is ½ mile ahead on left at a sharp right bend in the road.  Watch for a dip when entering the parking area.  After parking, walk back along Lake Clementine Road to trailhead you passed on the right just before the parking area.  (An alternative parking area is ½ mile back up Lake Clementine Rd - you passed it on the right just after turning off Foresthill Road.)


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Olmstead Loop Trail

  • Distance: 8.6 miles; 4 hours (hiking), but a variety of shorter trail options/cutoffs are also possible
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Description

This beautiful loop trail, which parallels Hwy 49 on one side and the American River Canyon on the other, passes through open, rolling hills with several species of oak trees, and wildflowers in spring.  It also includes steep canyon descents and climbs as it crosses Knickerbocker and Salt Creeks.  Side trails on the canyon side offer panoramic views of the North Fork American River.  Trail markers have been posted about every half-mile and at most trail intersections.

Directions

Trailhead and parking are behind the fire station in Cool.  Take Hwy 49 south to Cool and turn right just before the fire station and blinking red light.  This is also the Cool staging area for equestrians.  Trailhead is on south end of the parking area.


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Park HQ-to-Confluence Loop

  • Trails Included: Park Access Trail, Western States Trail (portion), Tinker's Cutoff Trail, Stagecoach Trail, Manzanita Trail
  • Distance: 3½ miles; 2 hrs (hiking
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Description

This loop affords many beautiful views of the American River Canyon and the confluence area.  It also includes some of the most historic trails and sites in the Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA).  Although the trails may be steep at times, it is mostly an easy loop through three of common American River Canyon ecosystems: foothill woodlands, riparian woodlands, and chaparral.

Directions

Trailhead is on Hwy 49, opposite ASRA Park HQ, ¾ mile south of Auburn behind the green gate (#136).  Parking is at ASRA Park HQ.  Alternate trailhead is at the confluence area,1½ miles south of Park HQ.  Take Hwy 49 south to Old Foresthill Road at bottom of canyon; go straight and park on right just past intersection.


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Pointed Rocks Trail

  • Distance: 1.6 miles one way; 1½ hrs up, ¾ hrs down (hiking). This does not include distance to trailhead. A variety of loop options are available.
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult.

Description

This steep trail offers great bird's eye views of the confluence and American River canyons.  On clear days, it offers sweeping views of the Sacramento Valley to the west and the Sierras to the east.  Its steep gradient offers a good aerobic workout, climbing 1000 ft in 1.2 miles.  It follows a buried telephone cable on its ascent from the confluence area to the ridge and the Olmstead Loop.  After reaching the ridge, the trail passes through open, rolling hills and meadows dominated by several species of oaks, and wildflowers in the spring.  Limestone outcroppings at the top give the trail its name.

Directions

Trailhead is on Hwy 49, 1¾ miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters.  Take Hwy 49 south from Auburn towards Placerville.  After crossing the American River, park on the right off the highway.  Walk to trailhead through the green gate (#150).


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Quarry Road Trail

  • Distance: 5.6 miles; 2¼ hours each way (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description

This wide, level trail can be used for a half-day walk and a pleasant picnic along the Middle Fork American River.  It goes through some of the best scenery available in the American River Canyons, and picnic tables are provided along the first 1¼ miles of the trail.  For those looking for a good workout, this trail is 11.2 miles round-trip.  Several side trails are accessible that can be used to create even more challenging loops.  There is little shade, however, so take plenty of water and sunscreen on hot summer days.

Directions

Trailhead is 2 miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters.  Take Hwy 49 south from Auburn, turn right across the American River towards Cool.  Turn left on the small dirt road ¼ mile south of the river crossing.  Trailhead is beyond the parking area at a green gate (#151).


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Quarry & Western States Loop Trail

  • Trails Included: Quarry Trail, Western States Trail-Tevis (portion), Western States Trail (portion), Shortcut Trail 1 (optional)
  • Distance: 6.3 miles; 3 hours (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Description

The Quarry Trail portion of this loop follows the wide, level bed of the Mountain Quarries RR.  It affords nice views of the Middle Fork American River.  The two sections of the Western States Trail (WST) cut through the dense foothill woodlands above the river.  This loop affords regular users of the Quarry Trail an alternate route rather than the normal out and back.  It highlights a small portion of the WST while skirting the quarry operation.  The loop goes from river to canyon rim and back.

Directions

Trailhead is 2 miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters.  Take Hwy 49 south from Auburn; turn right across the American River towards Cool.  Turn left on a small dirt road ¼ mile south of the river crossing.  Trailhead is beyond the parking area at green gate (#151).


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Robie Point FB Trail

  • Distance: 3.6 miles; 1½ hours each way (hiking), but a variety of shorter options are available
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Description

This firebreak trail is wide, well maintained, and paved in some parts.  It provides great views of the North Fork American River canyon.  Although the trail is steep at the southern end, it is otherwise fairly gentle and passes through three of the most common American River canyon ecosystems: foothill woodlands, riparian woodlands, and chaparral.  It can be hot in the summer since there is little shade, but it is ideal in the late afternoon or early evening for a hike or ride.

Directions

Trailhead North is on Hwy 49, southbound from Auburn ½ mile (on the right) or northbound from ASRA Park Headquarters ¼ mile (on the left), behind gate #130.  Caution:  cars coming downhill are hard to see on the curve.

Trailhead South is at Overlook Park behind the Gold Country Fairgrounds.  Take Hwy 49 and Lincoln Way north through Auburn to Auburn-Folsom Road, then past the fairgrounds and turn left on Pacific Ave.  Turn right after 0.5 mile into the large Overlook parking area.  After parking, walk back along Pacific Ave to trailhead (south) at a yellow-gated road that you passed just before entering parking area.


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Stagecoach Trail

  • Distance: 2 miles; 1½ hours up, ¾ hour down (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Moderate up, easy down

Description

This historic trail offers great bird's eye views of the confluence area and American River Canyon.  Its gradual gradient offers a good aerobic workout climbing 800 ft in 2 miles from the confluence to the top where it intersects Russell Road at a gate (#138).  The history of this trail dates back to the mid-1800s.  The trail climbs through riparian corridors as well as some typical foothill chaparral areas.  Wildflowers bloom in the spring in several areas.  There is little shade, so take water and sunscreen on hot summer days.

Directions

Trailhead is at confluence area, 1¾ miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters.  Take Hwy 49 from Auburn south to Old Foresthill Road at the bottom of the canyon.  Continue straight for ¼ mile and park on the left.  Trailhead is just beyond parking area of green gate (#137) near a kiosk and port-a-potty.


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Stevens Trail

  • Distance: 3.2 miles to river; 1½ hours down, 3 hours up (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy down, moderate up

Description

This very well maintained trail is one of the most popular hiking and biking routes to the North Fork American river, in part because of its easy access from Colfax.  However, this is a remote trail, and hikers are advised to carry a whistle or hike with a friend.  The trail passes through oak, laurel, douglas fir, and huge stands of manzanita.  The wildflower displays here are rarely matched elsewhere in ASRA, particularly during April and May.  Take plenty of water and use caution, as the trail is hot during summer months and steep at times with narrow passages.  Poison Oak can be found along much of the trail.

Directions

Parking is on N. Canyon Way in Colfax.  From Auburn, take I-80 east to the 2nd Colfax exit and turn left on the frontage road, N. Canyon Way.  Continue 0.6 miles; turn left into a small parking area.  Look for "trail" sign marking the trailhead.


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Tinker's Cutoff Trail

  • Distance: 0.3 miles one way; ¾ hour (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. Both top and bottom sections have been severely rutted by unauthorized bicycle use.

Description

This single file trail offers an alternative route to and from Stagecoach Trail from the confluence area.  It follows a creek drainage through a tree-lined riparian area with a small pool and waterfall that lasts year round.  It is a popular cut off for hikers in the summer months, providing welcome shade that is not always found on Stagecoach Trail.

Directions

The trailhead is 1¾ miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters in the confluence area.  Take Hwy 49 from Auburn south to Old Foresthill Road at the bottom of the canyon.  Park as close to the Hwy 49 Bridge to Cool as allowed.  This unmarked trailhead is almost directly opposite the Hwy 49 Bridge on the Placer County or north side of the river.  Looking uphill a clear, sharp cut in the bank is visible.  The trail may also be accessed off of Stagecoach Trail.  The upper trailhead for Tinker's Cut Off is just a little less than 1 mile from the confluence via Stagecoach Trail.


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Upper Stagecoach Trail

  • Distance: 1 mile one way; ½ hour (hiking). This does not include the distance walked on Stagecoach Trail to the trailhead. Access to this trail is from Stagecoach Trail.
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Description

Trail goes from Stagecoach Trail to Stagecoach Trail.  While not as wide, level or well graded as Stagecoach Trail, it provides another perspective on the canyon, and has some shade.  On clear days it is possible to see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada as well as views both up and down the American River Canyon.  There are two locations where there are benches from which to enjoy the views along the way.  The trail crosses several small oak meadows.  It also provides a good view of the imposing Foresthill Bridge and some opportunities to watch hikers and bikers  below on Stagecoach Trail.

Directions

Parking is off Russell Rd.  From I-80 exit at Foresthill.  Turn right (west) on Lincoln Way.  Follow Lincoln Way for about ½ mile and turn left onto Russell Road.  Drive slowly as many residents, children, and pets may be walking or biking along this single lane road.  After about ½ mile, there is a small parking area on the left as you round a curve to the right.  Trailhead is behind the parking area beyond green gate (#138).


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Western States Trail - Railroad Bed Section

  • Distance: 2 miles; 1 hour each way (hiking)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Description

This short section of the Western States Trail offers an easy outing with ever changing views of the American River.  The trail follows the old Mt Quarries RR roadbed for most of its route.  Thus it is fairly wide and level in most places.  Users pass several reminders of the railroad along the way.  The trail remains in sight of the river through much of its length.  Several small unofficial trails provide access down to the river and its many gravel bars that serve as swimming spots.

Directions

Trailhead East (Confluence area by Hwy 49 Bridge):  Trailhead is on Hwy 49, 1¾ miles south of ASRA Park Headquarters.  Take hwy 49 south from Auburn towards Placerville.  After crossing the American River, park on right off the highway.  Walk to trailhead through the green gate (#150).

Trailhead West:  (Robie Point Trailhead):  Trailhead is accessed from parking area on Hwy 49, southbound from Auburn ½ mile (on the right) or northbound from ASRA Park Headquarters ¼ mile (on the left).  Caution:  cars coming downhill are hard to see.  From the parking area behind the gate (#130), walk ½ mile of Robie Pt Trail.  The trailhead is a narrow trail on the left marked with a metal "Trail" or WST sign.


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Windy Point Trail

  • Distance: 1½ miles one way; ¾ hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. Trail is narrow, with loose rock and steep drop-offs.

Description

This short but challenging trail affords some spectacular views of the North Fork Canyon and when timing is right a spectacular wildflower display.  The trail traverses sections where the whole hillside is carpeted with blue, yellow, purple, and gold wildflowers highlighted against a blue sky, and green hills dominated by oaks and gray pine.  In spring, it is a photographer's and wildflower lover's delight.  Caution:  watch for poison oak, as it thrives along the trail.

Directions

Trailhead is on Iowa Hill Road.  From Auburn, take I-80 east to Colfax.  Exit at the Colfax, Grass Valley, Hwy 174 Exit.  Go right at the exit; at the stop sign, turn right onto Canyon Way.  In approx 0.3 miles, turn left on Iowa Hill Road.  Drive approx. 3.1 miles down Iowa Hill Road and across the North Fork American River.  After crossing the bridge, continue for approx 0.8 miles through the small camping area and up the road towards Iowa Hill.  Several large boulders and a very small sign that simply says "trailhead" mark the trail.  There is limited parking on the right shoulder just before and at the trailhead as the road bends to the left and away from the river.  Caution:  Iowa Hill is a narrow paved road with no guardrail.  Drive slowly and watch for approaching vehicles since some places are barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass.


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Tahoe National Forest Trails & Hikes

American River Trail

  • Distance: 7.36 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description

Trail follows the North Fork of the American River from the Mumford Bar Trail to the Sailor Flat Trail. Along the way you intersect the Beacroft Trail, which is another access route. This trail offers a variety of overlooks as it meanders along the river, passing through dense vegetation , past old cabins and mining sites, and through small meadows. Good fishing is available at times and limited camping is available along the trail. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs & lanterns. Use caution at the trail crossings at Tadpole and New York Creeks, which flow heavily in spring and could be difficult to ford. All trails in the North Fork of the American River are closed to motorized vehicle use.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Rd and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. This trail may be accessed from any of the following trails: Mumford Bar, Beacroft, and Sailor Flat. See individual descriptions of these trails.


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Beacroft Trail

  • Distance: 2.36 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Most Difficult

Description

This is a very steep and difficult trail, which involves numerous switchbacks. As you start down the trail, you will cross the Iowa Hill ditch. Further on you will see clusters of ferns beside the small streams. At the bottom of the trail at the river, you may continue upstream toward Sailor Flat, or downstream towards Mumford Bar on the American River Trail. Good fishing is available at times and limited camping is available along the trail. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs & lanterns.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Rd and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 21 miles on Foresthill Rd and turn left. The trailhead is up the rocky road.


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Big Trees Interpretive Trail
Forest View Trail

  • Distance: Forest View: ½ mile; Big Trees: 1 Mile Loop
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description

The trail winds through old growth forest. Notice the many trees of different sizes, ages, and species. If you happen to visit during the spring, wildflowers are plentiful along the trail. This short trail offers scenic views and is easy enough to be enjoyed by the whole family. The trail intersects with the Placer County Big Trees trail. Pick up a self-guided, interpretive brochure of the Big Trees Trail at either the Foresthill Ranger Station (on Foresthill Rd 1.2 miles before you get to Mosquito Ridge Rd) or the California Welcome Center in Auburn. The entire length of both trails is approximately 1½ miles. There is a picnic area adjacent to the upper parking lot with tables,BBQs, piped water, and restrooms available.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 1.2 miles and turn right onto Mosquito Ridge Road. Travel approximately 24 miles and make a right onto Forest Road 16. The picnic area and trailhead is ½ mile from this turn.


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Euchre Bar Trail

  • Distance: 5.28 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Most Difficult

Description

This trail along the North Fork of the American River has two methods of access. The portion along the river is 2.4 miles, with opportunities for fishing, camping, swimming, and gold panning. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs & lanterns. The upstream (east) end of the trail follows the Old Dorer Ranch Road. It passes old mining ruins and abandoned equipment from the Gold Rush era. Since it passes through private property, care should be taken to stay on the trail. Once at the river, you may choose to cross the river downstream at the suspension footbridge and follow the steep trail up the canyon to the other trailhead at Iron Point, near Casa Loma off of Interstate 80.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. continue 12 miles on Foresthill Road to Elliot Ranch Road and turn right. continue approximately 2.5 miles and the trailhead will be on the right NOTE: The road is rocky and a high clearance vehicle is advised.
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Green Valley Trail

  • Distance: 2.62 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Most Difficult

Description

Access to the North Fork of the American River via the Green Valley Trail is steep and rocky in places. There is a 2,200 foot change in elevation in the 2.6 mile hike; good physical condition is recommended to hike this trail. It is possible to continue downriver for a short way, or cross the river and travel upstream into Green Valley, which goes through private property and the trail is not maintained by the Forest Service. Good fishing is available at times, and river access with limited camping is possible along the trail. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs & lanterns.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. continue 10 more miles to Sugar Pine Road (Forest Road 10). Follow it for 5 miles until you cross Sugar Pine Dam. One mile beyond the dam, turn right onto Elliot Ranch Road, which is the dirt road just past the paved road to the campground. Travel 3 miles to the signed trailhead and make a left. NOTE: The road is rocky and a high clearance vehicle is advised.


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Grouse Falls Trail

  • Distance: ½ mile each way
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Trail Access and Description

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Rd and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 1.2 miles and turn right onto Mosquito Ridge Rd, following it 19¼ miles to the Peavine Rd intersection (Road 33), then drive almost 5 miles on this graveled road to the Grouse Falls turnoff. At the end of this short spur (note: road is not recommended for low vehicles) is a parking area where the trail begins. A half-mile hike leads to a deck overlooking the Grouse Falls Cascade, which drops several hundred feet into Grouse Creek. The deep, rugged canyons of this area are a reminder of the hard work and remote life of the early miners who lived and worked in many of the drainages of the area.


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Italian Bar Trail

  • Distance: 2.12 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Most Difficult

Description

This is an old trail that was used by miners to reach the North Fork of the American River. It is steep with short sections of 35% slope. As you start down the trail, there are spectacular views looking up the canyon. About halfway down the trail, be cautious of the poison oak. The trail ends at the river, but it is possible to travel up and down the river by scrambling along the riverbank. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs & lanterns.

 

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Rd and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 14.5 miles on Foresthill Rd to Humbug Ridge Rd (Forest Road 66) and turn left. Continue approximately 2½ miles to the trailhead on the right. NOTE: The road is rocky and a high clearance vehicle is advised.


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Little Bald Mountain Trail

  • Distance: 3.39 mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Description

The Little Bald Mountain Trail begins near the historic Robinson Flat Guard Station. There is a day use area and an equestrian campground to stage from. The trail starts a moderate incline for the first mile and levels out at the top of Little Bald Mountain. At the top there are spectacular views of Red Star Ridge, Duncan Canyon and French Meadows Reservoir. From there you may choose to make a short side trip to Duncan Peak Lookout, which is staffed during the summer months. The trail continues to switchback down to Little Robinson's Valley and eventually intersects with the Western States Trail and beings you back to Robinson Flat at the family campground.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Rd and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 28 miles on Foresthill Road to Robinson Flat Campground. Park in the day use area and follow the signs to the trailhead (to the right of the historic guard station and between the equestrian campground and the meadow).


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Loch Leven Lakes Trail System

Loch Leven (primary route)
  • Mileages (one way): ........... 1.1 miles to railroad tracks
    ........... 2.5 miles to 1st Lake
    ........... 2.6 miles to Salmon Lake Trail
    ........... 2.8 miles to 2nd Lake
    ........... 3 miles to Cherry Point Trail
    ........... 3.6 miles to Upper Loch Leven
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Description
Loch Leven Trail leaves the South Yuba River Canyon, crossing the ridge above to reach the glacially formed Loch Leven Lakes chain, small bowls in the granite. The trail is open for hiking early June to November, weather permitting. The trail is not marked for winter use, and is difficult to find in winter.
The trail works its way upward on a moderately steep grade to the southwest to the UPRR tracks, then trends southeasterly.
Granite outcroppings and glacial erratic are numerous along the first portion of the route, and the trail can be difficult to follow on the bare rock sections. As the trail ascends, it crosses minor hogbacks and depressions, generally trending upward. Prior to the railroad tracks, hikers see the markers for a buried telephone trunk line, and petroleum pipeline that they cross. Near the tracks, a small bridge spans a creek that flows swift and cold in early season.
After crossing the tracks, the trail becomes steeper, going from 6,000' to 6,800' in 1.25 miles. At the top of the ridge, the trail descends gradually into the Loch Leven Lakes Basin. The trail in the basin is primarily level, but follows the topography.
At the south end of Lower Loch Leven, a trail junction continues left to middle and high Lochs, or right to Salmon Lake. Fishing is generally good, and camping is dispersed throughout the basin. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs, and lanterns.

Trailhead Access
The trail begins one-eighth mile east of Big Bend Visitor Center on old US 40 (Big Bend exit off I-80). A restroom is available at the trailhead. The trail begins across the road from the parking area.


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Salmon Lake

Secondary route
  • Mileages (one way): ........... 1 mile to Salmon Lake cutoff
    ........... ¼ mile from cutoff to Lake
    ........... 0.6 mile from cutoff to Loch Leven Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description
The trail, open from early June to November, weather permitting, initially skirts a meadow blooming with wildflowers in early summer. It then climbs into old growth fir forest, and across weathered granites and metamorphic rocks with expansive views to the south. Grades are not difficult, but the trail rolls across the countryside to Salmon Lake.
Salmon Lake sits in a rocky bowl with limited campsites, primarily on the southeast side. Fishing is poor in the lake. Although swimming is possible, most users prefer the Loch Leven Lakes. Campers will find Salmon Lake a less crowded alternative to the Loch Leven basin. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs, and lanterns.


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McGuire Trail

Segment of Western States Trail
  • Mileage: 3.63 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description
This trail winds through timber and follows the north shore of French Meadows Reservoir, climbing moderately to the top of Red Star Ridge. This short trail offers scenic views of the French Meadows area and is easy enough to be enjoyed by the entire family. Good fishing is available at times, and lake access is possible along the trail. Camping along the trail is restricted to Poppy Campground, which is about 1 mile from the boat ramp trailhead. Poppy Campground has 12 sites with a table and grill-type stove in each. Campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs, and lanterns are permissible only within the facilities provided in the campground.


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Segment of the Western States Trail

  • Distance: 6 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Description

The trail drops off quickly into Eldorado Canyon and switchbacks down to the footbridge over Eldorado Creek. Good camping and fishing are available here. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs and lanterns. After crossing the West Branch of Eldorado Creek, the trail continues up the other side of the canyon offering some very scenic views of the rugged topography. The trail flattens out and eventually intersects the Deadwood Road near the old Deadwood Cemetery, which acts as the other trailhead for the trip. This hike can be made in a day by anyone in good physical shape or a more leisurely overnight trip.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue approximately 5 miles to Baker Ranch. Make a right on Michigan Bluff Road and follow it through the town. The trailhead is located ¼ mile east of the town off the right side of Turkey Hill Road.


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Mosquito Ridge Trail

  • Distance: 1 mile each way
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Description

This trail is very steep in places with many switchbacks, as it winds its way down to the Middle Fork of the American River. About halfway down across the canyon, there is a pretty cascade of water coming down the canyon wall. The river has good fishing at times, and there are adequate campsites on the large gravel bars along the river. Fire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs and lanterns. Because this is a southerly exposure, the trail can be hot during a warm day, and is a pleasant hike during the spring and fall. Poison Oak is present, especially at the beginning of the trail.

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. continue 1.2 miles and turn right onto Mosquito Ridge Road. Travel approximately 12.4 miles to the trail sign on the right. Park on the left side of the road in the turnout and then cross the road to begin the trail.


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Mumford Bar Trail

  • Mileage: 3.51 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Description
This is a popular trail to the North Fork of the American River and is used by hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. The trail is well-shaded. At ¾ mile down the trail, there is a nice view of the canyon, and straight ahead, a view of Royal Gorge. About halfway down the trail the poison oak begins. Be careful, as the leaf is not shiny, but looks like a maple leaf. At the bottom of the trail is Mumford Bar Cabin, which has been restored, but only for viewing. There is access to the river with opportunities for camping, fishing, gold panning, and swimming. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs and lanterns. You can continue upstream from here on the American River Trail (see American River Trail description).

 

Directions

From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 17 miles on Foresthill Road and turn left into the primitive Mumford Bar Campground. To access the trail, there is 5/8 of a mile road (at the back of the campground) that starts out as a 2WD road, but becomes a 4WD road.  NOTE:  2WD vehicles should park in the developed area on top.  Motor vehicles are prohibited on the trail.


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North Fork of the Middle Fork Trail

  • Mileage: 1.03 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description
This trail runs upstream along the North fork of the Middle Fork of the American River. Although it is primarily used by people placer mining along the river, other hikers are drawn to this area due to its easy grade, scenic beauty, and year round accessibility. This trail is a wonderful choice for early or late season hikes, with wildflowers plentiful during spring. The trail increases to a moderate slope, but levels out after the first quarter mile, until it drops down to the river. Good fishing is available at times, and river access with limited camping is possible along the trail. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs and lanterns. Poison Oak is commonly seen in the canyon and along the trail.

Trailhead Access
From I-80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 1.2 miles and turn right onto Mosquito Ridge Road. Travel approximately 9 miles to where you will see the trail sign on the left after crossing the bridge. Park on the right side of the road and then cross the road to the trailhead.


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Sailor Flat Trail

  • Mileage: 3.25 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Most Difficult

Description
The first 1½ miles of the trail follows an old mining road and is relatively easy. The remains of an old gold stamp mill stand near the trailhead. The trail then becomes steeper, with many switchbacks as you drop down to the North Fork of the American River. Good fishing is available at times and limited camping is available along the trail. Campfire permits are required for campfires, backpacking stoves, BBQs and lanterns. A popular trip for many is to enter via this trail and then proceed downriver to exit via the Mumford Bar Trail. This can be accomplished in one or two days, but would require the use of two vehicles or arranging for pickup. (Total trip distance is 14.12 miles)

Trailhead Access
From Interstate 80, take the Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 26.5 miles on Foresthill Road and turn left on Sailor Flat Road. NOTE: Sailor Flat Road is rocky with water bars and a high clearance, 4WD is advised.


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Sugar Pine Trail

  • Mileage: 3.5 miles each way
  • Difficulty: Easy

Description
The Sugar Pine Trail follows the shore around Sugar Pine Reservoir. If you begin in the picnic area, the first mile of the trail, to the Shirttail Creek Bridge, is suitable for wheelchairs. This part of the trail also has an interpretive brochure available in the box during the summer months or at the Ranger Station. Once you cross Shirttail Creek, the trail easily winds its way along the shore with plenty of good spots for fishing, swimming, or just taking a break. You will cross one more bridge, over Forbes Creek, and then pass the boat ramp and travel approximately one mile to the dam. The trail continues along the shore and will bring you back to the picnic area. There are picnic tables, BBQs, restrooms, and water available during the summer months. There are no fires or BBQs allowed around the lake, except in the facilities provided at the picnic area and campgrounds.

Trailhead Access
From Interstate 80, take Foresthill exit to Foresthill Road and proceed 15.5 miles to the Foresthill Ranger Station. Continue 10 miles to Sugar Pine Road and turn left. Continue approximately 5 more miles. The trail may be accessed from the boat ramp parking lot, the dam, or Manzanita picnic area. Note: there is a parking fee at the boat ramp and picnic area parking lots, usually from May to September, when the recreation facilities are open.


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