Has anybody else been finding any excuse they can to get outdoors? After months and months of quarantining, ultra-hot weather and smoky skies, I’ve been desperate for fresh air and sunshine.
This past weekend, I rounded up a couple of friends and headed to Auburn, where we ventured out on the serene Canyon Creek Trail—near the confluence of the middle and north forks of the American River—to the Black Hole of Calcutta Falls.
This 2.2–mile out-and-back is heavily-trafficked and family friendly. Dog friendly too—as long as they are leashed. It’s part of the Western States Trail, which brings runners out to train. (Because it can be busy, especially on weekends, bring your mask to pull up as you pass others along the way.)
The trail itself is fairly flat, with nice shaded spots scattered throughout. About half a mile in, you’ll come across a wooden bridge that makes for a nice resting spot as you admire the falls, which are still running. And for a nice, refreshing way to finish off this trek, several access points to the American River lie just downhill from the path. It’s freezing at first but if you go on a warm day, it’s exactly where you’ll want to dip your feet.
Parking spots go fast in this area, which is known as the Confluence and is a hub for several Auburn State Recreation Area trailheads. Be prepared to pay $10 per car to park in the Confluence section—otherwise, you will get a ticket. Parking just off Highway 49 closer to the Canyon Creek Trailhead (which is at Gate 150) is free but as you might expect is the first to fill.
After your hike, stop in at Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn for snacks and a pint in the beer garden.