Hiking Trails


The North and South forks of the river have extensive hiking trails. The more rugged and demanding are those of the North; the South Fork has its share of difficult trails but also many that are suitable for an afternoon outing. Many of the trails on the Adventure Loop are Dog friendly.

Hiking Trail Resources

rapids into a pool

ASRA Canyon Keepers – The Canyon Keepers hike the trails in Auburn State Recreation Area, taking notes along the way. They then create trail guides from the information they gather. The guides include information such as distance, time to hike the trail, elevation profile, a description of the significant points of natural and historic interest on the trails, and directions to the trailhead. This site posts downloadable PDF files of their guides.

Dave Moore Nature Area– Located on Hwy 49 about two miles north of Coloma. Two miles of nature trail, much of it wheelchair-accessible, and picnic area. Historic remnants from the gold rush. Walking access to shaded swimming hole on the South Fork of the American River. Boaters may stop for picnics, but put-ins and take-outs are not allowed.

Auburn State Recreational Area – Top ten trails in the Auburn State Recreational Area featuring the Auburn-Cool Trail. The Auburn-Cool Trail is quite suitable for all trail uses. Hikers can find tennis-shoe comfort even on wet days. Horses can have wide road shoulders to themselves. On the Cool side, the paved road might just be the best roller-blading around, if anyone knew about it. Bikers can save time on the pavement and the long downhill cruises, and either walk or get a challenging workout on the climbs. Beginning bikers can go there to avoid conflicts on the narrower and more crowded trails.

finish2 way to cool

Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park – Located in Pilot Hill, California, Cronan Ranch contains over 12 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, fishing, bird watching and other passive recreation. The borders of the Park follow the South Fork American River, Highway 49, Pedro Hill Road and private lands. The Park is open daily from sunrise to sunset year round. There is a wide variety of terrain to choose from, including gently sloped to challenging hills, oak woodland and gentle riverfront trails.

Hiking in El Dorado County – El Dorado County site lists several hiking spots with brief descriptions including Desolation Wilderness, El Dorado National Forest, Tahoe Rim Trail, D. L. Bliss State Park, Emerald Bay State Park, Dave Moore Nature Area, North Star Tree Farm, and Rubicon Outdoors with links to many of the areas for more infomation.

North Fork of the American River – This wonderful blog is subtitled, “Accounts of explorations in the Great American Canyon, Placer County’s Yosemite.” The author, Russell Towle, writes of his hikes in the canyons of the North Fork of the American River. Several years worth of stories, natural history and philosophy are interspersed with logistics information and trail maps. A quote, “It is my philosophy that the old trails of the North Fork need to be known, not unknown. The North Fork of the American River–its wildness, its beautiful scenery, its historic trails and mining ditches and prehistoric sites–deserves every kind of protection and preservation. But this protection and preservation is hardly possible if no one knows the great canyon, and its great old trails.”

Western States Endurance Run – This 100-mile run along the Western States Trail starts at Squaw Valley, California. The trail runs down the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River drainage, crossing the main stem of the Middle Fork below Ruck-a-Chucky, and re-crossing at No Hands Bridge on its way to the Auburn finish line.

IMG_20150801_104700[1]Olmstead Loop Trail – Olmstead Loop Trail is a 9 mile loop near Cool, CA, is not very technical and moderately strenuous. It’s open for hikers, horses, and mtn bikers, and accessible year-round. Only one main loop is open to bikes…follow the other tire treads. Lots of horses late morning-afternoon. VERY muddy Dec-May. For more information, click here.

Training Hill – Training Hill is a 4 mile loop trail located near Cool, California. The trail is rated as difficult and primarily used for hiking. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

Have a dog? – If you are looking for adventure around the loop that your furry friends can accompany you on, click here to see the various dog-friendly hikes and activities around the Adventure Loop.

Click Here for Cool Trail Maps
Click here for a list of great Georgetown Hiking Trails


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