Mary West: Exploring Stagecoach Trail
The Stagecoach Trail in the Auburn State Recreation Area is three trails in one. Park in the Confluence area near the kiosk. Keep in mind there is a $10-day use fee. Behind the State Park Kiosk there is a trail that leads under the Foresthill Bridge. You will be headed upriver left. Not to be confused with the popular Clementine Trail on the other side of the North Fork of the American River.
The moderate uphill climb has a couple of left turns options. If you take the first sharp left onto Lower Stagecoach at the sign you enjoy the view of the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge and the American River that flows beneath.
You may choose to continue to the bench for a view of the Confluence area or onto Russell Road. The out and back hike is approximately two miles.
Or stay on the main trail to the second left turn to Upper Stagecoach for canyon views and a trail that isn’t as heavily trafficked as Lower Stagecoach. Keep your eye out for the heart tree stump. It is a tree that has been covered with heart shaped rocks placed in the nooks and crannies of the tree bark. State Parks cut it down before it fell, potentially taking half the trail with it. Both trails are home to a variety of wildflowers in the spring.
The third option is to stay on the uphill trail to the foundation of the Foresthill Bridge. Park rangers have warned me not to linger under the bridge as objects have been dropped and could be a danger to hikers or mountain bikers traveling under the bridge. It isn’t a very long trail, maybe two-miles round trip, but at the end of the trail there is a great picnic spot.
An open area that overlooks the river with a seasonal waterfall that runs along the edge of the grassy area is found here.
A combination of trails in the area can make for a good workout and great views of the river and canyon. You can hike up to the top of the bridge and walk across to connect to still more trails.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram
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