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7.22.16 ... American River Confluence Loop

Hike Details:

  • Elevation - low of 535' to high of 1194'
  • Location - Auburn State Recreation Area - Confluence
  • Mileage - 4-5 miles
  • Hiking time -1 1/2 hours
  • Route - See the map below, we parked at the Confluence beyond the bridge, near the bathroom (fee area). We followed the Stagecoach Trail, but then took a sharp left to head towards the Manzanita Trail, which took us to the Park Headquarters. We crossed Hwy. 49 to join the Western States Trail, crossed the No Hands Bridge and then crossed the river again back to the parking lot.
  • Weather - Barely cool when we started at about 8:30, and just got progressively warmer. Fortunately we finished before it was too hot to hike.
These nifty graphics were made from the website -- best hike planning/mapping website!! I'm just nerdy enough that I enjoy figuring this stuff out. And I love that the elevation profile makes it look like we climbed a really high mountain. :)

So this hike was our second choice for the day. The original plan was to go check out Codfish Falls a little further up the North Fork of the American River. We followed numerous maps and recommendations about going down Ponderosa Way, which warned of the bumpy, dirt road. I was driving a truck so I wasn't too worried. I forgot to snap a picture but grabbed this off of Google maps to show the terrain we were heading down into. We were descending steeply into the canyon and the road was very windy and very bumpy.

 We drove about a mile and had at least another mile to go. There were just two of us that day and we were both starting to feel a little uneasy. We hadn't seen any cars going up or down and we no longer had cell service. That canyon was all of a sudden feeling very remote and isolated. I spoke up and said that unless we started getting cell service around the next bend (haha, wishful thinking since I have AT&T!), I thought we should turn around and go back. My friend immediately agreed with me. Fortunately, right around that next bend was about the only spot on this whole road where it was safe to turn around. So that's what we did.
We'll never know if we averted some kind of danger or maybe some car trouble, or maybe everything would have been perfectly fine, but I've learned to listen to those promptings and always err on the side of caution and safety. I definitely want to try again, the hike itself is supposed to be pretty easy, but we'll wait until there are more than just two of us.

Okay, now back to the hike we did end up doing. We headed to the Confluence trail area and decided to follow one of the routes I haven't done yet. We didn't have a trail map since it wasn't in the plan, but there was a group of nice older men who were happy to give us directions, though by the time the four of them were done explaining the different trail intersections we might have been better off figuring it out on our own. ;)

There's nothing particularly exciting about this trail, but it's a nice, solid workout with some beautiful river and canyon views. We got our heart pumping right at the start with a good incline.
 A pretty view of the landmark Foresthill Bridge
 Looking down at the canyon
 I think this waterfall is called the Black Hole of Calcutta Falls. A very impressive sounding name for a not super impressive waterfall. Maybe it's better in the spring?
 All's well that ends well. We had a nice hike and got home by 10:30!