By Michelle Romano
Auburn, CA is the perfect blend of chill vibes and small town feels. This gold rush town has no shortage of history or friendly locals. It’s absolutely essential that you start your visit to Auburn at The Pour Choice. This cafe/coffee shop has a trendy yet homey feel, along with delicious food and even better coffee.
Next head over to the Healthy Habit in downtown Auburn to grab sandwiches for your backpack, before you hit the local nature sites. I also love their “Energizer Juice” before a hike! Once you’re all stocked up it’s time to head out to the Foresthill bridge.
The Foresthill Bridge is the tallest bridge in California, and offers the opportunity to see it from many different viewpoints. First I recommend walking across both sides of the bridge, to see it from above. Cross the bridge in your car and park on the left hand side. Walk across the bridge from there and look down through the railing, the view is staggering from up that high! Once you make it to the end of the bridge, cross the street very carefully and head down the trail you will find there. This will lead you down a short trail to a view point directly underneath the bridge. From here you will get a cool feeling of the bridge’s immensity, as well as a breathtaking view of the American River below.
After you hike back up, walk across the bridge again and take in the view from the other side. Hop back in your car and head down the road about 5 minutes and make a right on Old Foresthill Road, which will take you down to the American River Confluence, part of the Auburn State Recreation Area. There are several trails you can hike here. You can even just head down to the river to lay out on the rocks and enjoy your sandwiches. From anywhere down by the river you’ll be able to look up and see the bridge from the bottom, which gives you yet another amazing perspective of its size.
My two favorite trails in this area are the Clementine trail and a portion of the Western States Trail.
This section of the Western States trail is an easy 2.2 mile out and back trail that leads to a tiny waterfall, but the real draw of the trail for me are the views of the river and the wildflowers along the way.
Clementine Trail is a moderately difficult 4.5 mile out and back trail that takes you under the bridge and up to the Clementine Dam, which is like a massive man-made waterfall.
Both hikes are completely different but extremely rewarding. However, if you aren’t up for a hike, you can actually view the waterfall from a much easier access point. Instead of taking a right and heading down to the river, make a left just slightly further up the road and head to Upper Lowere Lake Clementine. Eventually, after a windy road down the hill, you will come to a parking lot and find a short trail down to a viewing point for the dam. From here you will have a full vantage point of both the dam and the upper lake. This is also a great place to go and watch the sunset after your day’s hikes.
Once you’ve exhausted yourself, it’s time to head back into town for a hearty dinner to replace all those calories you just burned. Head over to Auburn Alehouse for an amazing burger, or the vegetarian friendly Mac & Cheese, and a house brewed draft!
With so much to see, eat and explore, Auburn is the perfect day trip for adventurers of all kinds!