The opening of the American River Trail a little over a year ago has provided great access for multi-sport fun on the South Fork American River with over 25 miles of trails to explore from Greenwood Creek to Salmon Falls.
American River Trail Guided Interpretive Hike
Distance: 3+ miles
Difficulty: Moderate–2+ hours of hiking. Elevation Gain/Loss: 400/500 ft, well worn dirt path, one shallow water crossing.
Meet time for this trip is 9AM. After waivers are signed and a safety talk, the trip starts from our camp at Mother Lode Center, where the rafts will ferry guests and hiking guide(s) to the trailhead. Mother Lode guides will provide drinking water, snacks, and first aid kit for the hike.
After a cooling dip in the river if needed, the guided hike begins, winding up the hill into Magnolia Ranch on a path shaded by a variety of oaks, pines, buckeye, spicy wild Bay trees, and lined with tall grasses that are a lush green and sprinkled with wildflowers in the spring, classic California gold in the summer and fall. We’ll stop at interesting sites to learn about local ecology and take in beautiful vistas of the river below. There’s plenty of wildlife as well; we’ve seen foxes, bobcats, raccoons, coyotes, martens, skunks, shrews, voles, lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders, and dozens of bird species on this trail.
From the ridge on Magnolia Ranch, the hike continues gently down into Hastings Creek canyon and into a large grove of Incense Cedar trees. We’ll stop at the creek, dip our feet in and relax while learning about this unique micro-ecosystem. Then we’ll cross the creek (this can be a wet adventure in the spring!) and continue up and out of the canyon into the rolling oak savanna of Cronin Ranch. More sweeping views of the river await along this stretch where the hiking guides will discuss conservation efforts and opportunities in the area. The trail leads back down to the river, where the group will rendezvous with the rafts and other guides for lunch. After lunch we’ll hop back on the rafts, and descend into the Lower Gorge’s exciting class III rapids.
Call for pricing.
Full Day American River Trail Hike
Distance: 11+ miles
Difficulty: Moderate–5+ hours of hiking. Elevation Gain/Loss: 800/900 ft, well worn dirt path, one shallow water crossing.
Meet time for this trip is 9AM at Magnolia Ranch Trailhead. After waivers are signed and a safety talk from your guide(s), this hiking trip begins amidst the wide open Blue Oak savanna before the trail winds into the cover of pines, Canyon and Interior Oak, Buckeye and Bay and overlooks the river.
Hiking guide(s) will stop at interesting sites and teach about the surrounding flora and fauna in the various ecosystems the group passes through. After crossing Hastings Creek and entering Cronin Ranch, the hike heads toward a delicious lunch on the river. After lunch the hike heads uphill toward more stunning views of the river and into more beautiful rolling forested hills. Suddenly the landscape will change drastically as the hike heads into the Pine Hill Preserve, a chaparral ecosystem with several endangered plant species, which you will learn about along with the geology behind the sudden change of environment. The hike ends back near the river at Salmon Falls where the group can splash around and cool down before a Mother Lode bus shuttles the group back to Magnolia Ranch.
NEW – Dutch Creek Waterfall Hike!
Take a half-day stroll up gorgeous Dutch Creek canyon. This tributary to the South Fork American River, located just a few minutes drive from Mother Lode River Center, is a new American River Conservancy acquisition, and a long-time local favorite.
Scenic Mount Murphy towers above on one side of the trail, covered in fiddle-necks, poppies, and lupines, while the creek gently rushes over huge granite boulders on the other. In the creek, our guides often see vibrant Sierra Newts called “fire-bellies” because of their bright orange underside. The trail ends at a stunning 200 foot cascading double waterfall, as Dutch Creek and Johnstown Creek confluence at the bottom of each falls. After basking in the mist below the falls and taking in the view, we’ll work our way back to the trailhead playing in choice swimming holes along the way.
Call us at 530-626-4187 for availability and pricing.