Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sporty Sunday: Hiking North Fork of the American River (Auburn State Recreation Area)

100 Classic Hikes in Northern California calls this hike “North Fork of the American River.” However, there are many hikes along the American River’s North (and South) Fork, and most are probably better than this one. Nevertheless, this loop in the Auburn State Recreation Area was extremely popular on a sunny Sunday.

The trailhead is easily accessible from Hwy 49, but be sure to arrive by 10 am on a weekend to find parking on the wide shoulder. The hike described in the book starts near No Hands Bridge (one of the trail’s highlights!) and then heads up very steep Trainers Hill Trail. The climb tops out at another of the hike’s best features: the picturesque Pointed Rocks area, a blue oaks woodland dotted with large and small, lichen-covered rocks. Next, the book directs one to follow Western States Trail back to No Hands Bridge, but we never found this trail.

The Auburn State Recreation Area is a maze of trails. I don’t recommend venturing onto them without a map. The trail directions in the book were certainly not adequate. Jasper and I ended up far off-course, back at the highway, but miles from the car. We encountered some friendly runners (training for the 50K Way to Cool) who directed us up Shortcut Trail to the Wendell T. Robie trail and back to our starting point. Despite frustration with being “lost,” I appreciated that the detour took us past a couple mossy streams where Jasper and I both could cool off.

Yes, Jasper’s in every picture this week. He’s just so photogenic!

I doubt we’ll return to this area. It’s ideal for cross-country running and short outings with children. However, for a woman seeking solitude and a dog who loves to range free, it was a bust. We made up for the disappointment with a stick fetching session in the river and chalked this one up to experience.

Source: Soares, John R. and Soares, Marc J. "North Fork of the American River." 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California. 3rd ed. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books, 2008. Print.

Length: 5 miles if hiked as described in guidebook.

Water: American River and tributaries.

Use: Heavy. Be prepared to encounter other hikers, runners, children, horses, bicycles, and dogs.

Differences from published description: The trail directions in the book did not seem to translate well to reality.

Jasper’s rating: 2.5 paws out of 5.

Sporty Sunday is a recurring feature in which I share my fitness routine and offer and solicit advice. While this content might seem a little out of place in an outfit diary, a healthy, strong body is the foundation of my wardrobe. I hope to inspire my readers to be fit as well as stylish!

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