Mary West: Exploring the Indian Creek Trail
The area of the North Fork of the American River around Yankee Jim’s Bridge in Colfax is a destination. I find myself rock hopping and hiking all around the area when I get a chance. When the water is low you can cross Shirttail Creek with about two miles of trail that takes you back to Indian Creek. Along the way are swimming holes filled with crystal clear water and spots of white sand beach. At the creek, there is shade and rocks to lounge on in between the swimming, picnicking and hiking. The blackberries are profuse in their season for an added snack. The views of the North Fork deep in the canyon with towering forest-covered hills all around is as good as it gets. This trail continues to Windy Point if you are so inclined, but with the heat and the narrowness of the trail I kept my most recent hike to two miles in, for a four-mile round-trip hike.
This trail is not consistently maintained. Expect blackberry vines, downed trees, hanging limbs and tall grass. Tall grass is home to ticks. Loose rock is an added danger. Poison oak for those of you that are sensitive to it, watch out.
Parking is a challenge on the weekends. There is a state park $10 day use fee as this is within the boundary of the Auburn State Recreation Area.
How to get there
To get to Yankee Jim’s Bridge, take Interstate 80 east to Colfax. Take the Canyon Way exit. Turn right onto Canyon Way. Less than a mile down the road you will see Yankee Jim’s on the left. Not far down the road the pavement ends. For some the road is too rough. I manage just fine in my Subaru. Follow the road along the mountainside to the bridge to park.
Get an early start as much of the trail is exposed to direct sun and heats up. Take plenty of water and a friend if possible. Sturdy shoes and walking sticks are also a good idea. Hats and sunblock may come in handy.
A little side trip for you. About a half mile beyond the bridge on the Foresthill side is Devil’s Falls. If you have ever felt discouraged by your daily grind, try standing under a waterfall. The rush can make you forget all your deadlines for a day. Devil’s Falls is right off the road side.
Mary West is author of the trail guide series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide. The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, and favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond (Available on Amazon). West is the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
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