The green meadows and flowing creeks make this regional park a gem in Placer County in winter. The trails are well maintained, the bridges and decks are handsome and sturdy. The variety of trails will keep you going back again and again.
You may have heard parking is difficult. Yes, if you go after 10 a.m. the parking lot fills up quickly. I suggest going early or late. On my last trek, I went in the afternoon and I was able to park in the middle of the main lot and the light for photography was amazing.
I would encourage you to choose a hike while the weather is still mild. I have hiked the area several times and in the heat of summer. The grasses are dry and much of the trail is exposed to direct sun, making for a hot day. The payoff is finding a nice swimming hole along Coon creek.
This is a heavily trafficked area. The easy to moderate trails make it great for families and those who are looking for a shorter outing. If you get beyond the inner trails that lead to the falls, such as River Otter Loop, you leave the crowds and have more of the trail to yourself.
These are multi-use trails so expect to share the path with mountain bikes and horses. And don’t be surprised if you see grazing cattle or sheep too.
To get to Hidden Falls from Interstate 80, head north on Highway 49 toward Grass Valley. Turn left on Palm Ave to Mount Vernon to 7587 Mears Place, Auburn. If you are coming from Grass Valley you could take Joeger or Atwood Roads to Mount Vernon to Mears Place.
With 1,200-acres to wander, follow a route that looks like fun and enjoy.
Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (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 to see complete article and more photos in The Union newspaper.