Now that the weather is cooling this is a short enjoyable out and back hike at under a mile to the river.
Take the drive east on Interstate 80 to Colfax. Take the Canyon Way exit. Turn left on the frontage road along I-80 up to Iowa Hill Road. Follow the paved road down to the day use area near Mineral Bar campground.
This is in the Auburn State Recreation Area and there is a $10 day use fee.
The trailhead is just before the bridge on the left.
Park on the side of the road.
The trail starts with a steep drop off over rocks, roots and ruts. It drops you out of the park boundary quickly. The trail is narrow and in late October gnats were pretty thick so you may want to consider bug spray.
This area is rich in mining history. You can see signs of old stacked rock walls and foundations. There is even the start of a mine tunnel, not very deep but fun to look into.
Watch for nesting birds, bats and other creatures looking to get out of the weather.
Not far along the trail you cross the falls that cascade from pool to pool down to the North Fork of the American River.
Willow shrubs grow along the river with their silvery green leaves. The Bay and Laurel are showing fall color as is the wild grape, Cottonwood and Alder.
Before you know it you will be along the water’s edge. Swimming holes are numerous; rapids provide the calming sound of the river.
This is a popular area for miners as it has been for over a 150 years.
Frogs were plentiful when I was there last.
Mineral Bar campground is nearby with a day use area and bathrooms. If you wanted to car camp, you could make a weekend of it. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are on leash.
Pennyweight Trail is a perfect place for skipping rocks and taking pictures. It’s a quick get away to remind you why we love living here. So pull up a rock and share a picnic lunch before the short hike out.
--Article and photo by Mary West.
CLICK HERE to see the original article and more photos in the Auburn Journal newspaper