The Manzanita Trail is aptly named. During or right after a rain, the bark of the manzanita is bright red. The hearty bush thrives along the trail and in a couple areas it is shaped into an arched trellis over the path.
After connecting to Stagecoach Trail, the path opens, providing views of the Foresthill Bridge, the tallest bridge in California at 731 feet. The Confluence Bridge, Old Foresthill Bridge and Highway 49 Bridge are all within view.
If you look to the far right, you can see the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge. A small bench provides a good midway point. Turkey vultures often perch here. I have enjoyed watching them spread their wings and sun themselves on the highest limbs of the tallest trees here.
You can continue on Stagecoach or head uphill to the top of the Foresthill Bridge or downhill to the Confluence area. There are several trails to take advantage of from this point.
On Stagecoach, I was surprised to see the Heart Rock Tree had been cut down. Speaking to the Auburn State Recreation Area, it was necessary. A significant landslide took place near the tree, making it unstable. I placed my share of heart-shaped rocks in the nooks of the bark of the large pine. Now I only have pictures.
To get there from Auburn, take Interstate 80 to the Elm Avenue exit. Turn left onto Highway 49. Follow Highway 49 into the canyon and into the Auburn State Recreation Area. The ranger’s station entrance will be on your left about halfway down the canyon. Park in front of the office. The trail will be up the hill to your right around the maintenance shop. Black bears, snakes and other wildlife are in the area, so be cautious.
Take ample water and wear sturdy shoes. Exposed areas may require a hat, sunglasses and even sunscreen on sunny and hot days.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series – Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.
CLICK HERE for original article and more photos by Mary West