Mary West: Exploring Magnolia Ranch Trailhead

The South Fork American River.

Mary West: Exploring Magnolia Ranch Trailhead

Watching kayakers and rafters drift by, the sun setting behind the trees on the hill across the river, listening to the water lap at the shore, skipping rocks, this is a great place to hang out anytime of year.

Mary West: Exploring Magnolia Ranch Trailhead

A drone shot of Magnolia Ranch beach.

Mary West: Exploring Magnolia Ranch Trailhead

A sign along the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead.

Highway 49 trailheads provide several South Fork American River access points in El Dorado County. Each has its own character and makes for a nice hike in all seasons.

Magnolia Ranch Trailhead between the towns of Pilot Hill and Coloma is one option. This popular equestrian trail network has caught on with mountain bikers and hikers alike. Offering primarily two trails from the parking lot, an upper trail, Gerle Loop, at an easy 2.5 miles and the South Fork American River Trail just slightly longer. Gerle Loop accesses Hastings Creek and Cronan Ranch if you want to extend these hikes. Be prepared for direct sun in the beginning, but oak trees provide shade as you make your way. Wildflowers in the spring are an added bonus.