Mary West: The Day Hiker visits Sweetwater Trail |

Mary West: The Day Hiker visits Sweetwater Trail

Rolling hills flank the walk along the Sweetwater Trail. Be on the lookout for poison oak.
Photo by Mary West

Take a stroll along the lake in spring. Sweetwater Trail in the Folsom State Recreation Area is a 6-plus mile out and back saunter along Sweetwater Creek, a tributary of Folsom Lake. Filled with wildflowers, rocks and views of the surrounding hills, the walk is a visual joy.

This is a multi-use trail. Dogs are welcome on leash. The Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition host regular trail maintenance, especially following all the winter storms, making for a mostly clear trail. With all the vegetation along the trail it is difficult to keep up with all the dead and down trees and brush.

I wanted to get out and hike this trail before the summer heat made it oppressive. There are shaded areas but take along sunblock, hat and glasses if you are sensitive to the sun. The poison oak was already shiny with oil in March. If you are sensitive to it, wear long sleeves and pants on this trail as it grows in profusion along the trail.

From Auburn take Highway 49 from Placer to El Dorado County, toward Cool. Turn right on Rattlesnake Bar Road and an immediate left on Salmon Falls Road. Follow Salmon Falls over the American River to the Salmon Falls Rafters Take Out parking lot on your left. The trailhead is just to the right of the restrooms. This is a fee area.

The highlight for me on this trail was the Shooting Star. I have never seen them at this low elevation.

The highlight for me on this trail was the Shooting Star. I have never seen them at this low elevation. I also enjoyed the patches of sage and mint along the way. After you make the trip to the far gate and start your return, consider the lower trail that runs along the wide creek. A bridge appears when the creek is low. Then cut up to the trail to return to the parking lot.

Mary West is author of the book 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 was the recipient of the 2017 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.

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