Okay, so it's New Year's Day....So what? Time to head out the door and start the New Year as you intend to go on, right? What better way to ring it in than with a nice hike, a nice brunch (with optional mimosas if your man, or woman enough to pack them in, and pond view), and nice company?
Come join us for Carla's third annual New Year's hike....If we only hike to the pond and back it'll be 3 miles r/t. If some want to continue on to Newcastle's powerhouse, then it makes for a 4 mile r/t hike.
This is a really beautiful hike up the North Fork of the American River beginning from Folsom Lake at Rattlesnake Bar. It's not very far away from Sacramento. It's also very nice, easy and fun. This is a wonderful recreation area with loads of potential for all sorts of activities. Everyone should know about it!
Duration: Approx 3 hours depending on speed of hikers and strength of mimosas! (Just kidding).
Distance: 3- 4 miles out and back
Sources: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Sacramento by Jordan Summers
Description: Leave the horse-assembly area at the signed trailhead at the northeast end of the parking lot. Your trail starts out as a dirt path that becomes a double-track in short order. When the wide track veers right, stay on the single path that leads left. The double-track will rejoin your path shortly. A sign ahead proclaims that you are on the Pioneer Express Trail and indicates the distance to Avery's Pond and Auburn.
After you head generally east for about 10 minutes, the trail turns north to meander through live oak and toyon. After 0.25 miles, you will start descending a bit along a deeply rutted section of trail.
Walk along in the cool shade of black oak, live oak, and more Manzanita until you come to an easy but steep downhill stretch. A large outcrop to your left leans out over the trail. Well protected by poison oak, these are not the rocks one would be enthusiastic about bouldering. The trail is crossed with smaller boulders that serve as stairs to help you clamber down the trail. Your path is now sand and pea gravel and contours along beside the lake about 50 feet above the shoreline. The trail runs right up next to a steep drop to the rocks below just as you see the first signs of the North Fork Ditch.
Cross a small drainage just before you come upon a large patch of blackberries at about the 1-mile point. The ditch is plainly visible for the next mile encrusted with blackberries, the ditch runs to your right. Walk another 175 feet to cross another bridge, which signals your arrival at the pond. Turn right and head toward the lake. Be careful: the bank surrounding the pond is steep, and the pond is not suitable for swimming or wading.
About 0.5 miles ahead is a small hydroelectric plant operated by PG&E. (It is here that we can decide to either just stay at the pond and have brunch, or to continue on and do brunch on the return. There are picknick tables at the pond to sit at).
To get to the plant, take the right-hand trail at the junction and you will walk roughly parallel to the road you see above you to the left. You will reach the road in a matter of seconds. Take notice of the mountain lion warning posted on the tree. Follow the road down as it turns to gravel, and then round the bend; you will see the small hydro facility ? the Newcastle power plant ? ahead. As you walk toward the power plant, you can see the point at which the North Fork enters the lake.
Pass the modern plant now, and follow the trail across another bridge at Mormon Ravine, which is just past the power plant. Turn right and continue through the wooded area above the river. Look below you on the right, and you can plainly see sections of the water ditch. Follow along the trail until, at the 2-mile point, you come to an informational kiosk that highlights the hydro facility and provides some brief history regarding your trail.
This is a convenient spot to turn around. You have hiked 2 miles, retrace your steps until you come to the pond, and then take the right-hand fork at the junction. Walk through an environmental campsite with a few picnic tables. Just before you cross the bridge at the west end of the pond, look right to see more of the concrete sections of the ditch.
When you near the trailhead, you have a choice. Either retrace your steps exactly from the junction of the single-track and the double-track, or take the fork to the right, startle some turkeys in the woods, and them emerge at the kiosk adjacent to the trailhead.
Dogs: Yes Leash Required: Yes
Price: $10.00 parking fee (you might want to consider carpooling if you're coming from the same area...We live in Auburn so will be coming from the oppposite direction).
What to bring: Water, lunch, something to share, camera, layers, sturdy shoes, a sense of humor, and of course mimosa makings and plastic champagne ware, which are optional. For those of you with gourmet tastes, table cloths, classical music and after dinner mints are highly recommended!
Coordinates: Latitude: N 38"49' 09"
Longitude: W 121" 05' 22"
Directions to the trailhead Meet 10.45am at trailhead, be hiking by 11 am sharp:
From Sacramento. Drive 15 miles east on I-80 to Loomis, and exit at Horseshoe Bar Road. Turn left at the end of the ramp onto Horseshoe Bar Road; bear left and then take the next left turn onto Horseshoe Bar Road. Continue 3.4 miles to Auburn-Folsom Road. Turn left and drive 2.3 miles to Newcastle Road, where you will turn right and go 1 mile to Rattlesnake Road. Turn right again and follow the road another mile until the pavement ends. Stop and self-register at the entry kiosk. Drive 0.2 miles to the sign for the horse-assembly area and boat launch. Turn left and drive 0.4 miles to the sign for the horse-assembly area, then turn left again, into the gravel parking lot. The signed trailhead is at the northeast end of the lot, in the grass.
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