Auburn Hiking Trails | 10 Can’t-Miss Trails (Some With Waterfalls)

There are a lot of really fun and exciting Auburn hiking trails open to the public year-round. Auburn has a Mediterranean climate. This means that they experience cold and wet winters and hot and dry summers.

Although temperatures do rise and fall with the seasons, it is not as extreme as in other parts of the US. This makes Auburn the ideal place for hiking.

Beautiful hiking location in Gold Country near Auburn, California

I recently traveled to this area to discover the best Auburn hiking trails available, and I was not disappointed. There are so many to choose from that you can plan an entire hiking holiday!

I personally love the outdoors, and Auburn is so naturally beautiful that hiking trails are an excellent way of exploring the surroundings.

Auburn also boasts an impressive selection of parks. Parks are excellent spots for novice hikers to start taking up this hobby. The parks are usually protected areas and are good for easy to moderate hikes.

They will usually also have impressive features such as wildflower fields, rocky outcrops, or waterfalls to admire.

I have selected 10 of the best Auburn hiking trails and highlighted their best features. I have also grouped them according to the level of difficulty of each trail. Therefore, you can pick and choose the ones you’d like to try according to your skill level as a hiker. Have fun exploring!

 

Easy Auburn Hiking Trails

Here is a list of 3 beautiful hiking spots perfect for beginners, per friendly and they also have amazing swimming spots to enjoy and explore.

1. Western States Trail to Calcutta Falls

 

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I am kicking off this list with one of the easiest Auburn hiking trails. It is an excellent choice for beginner hikers, but I do suggest going in the early morning then. The reason for this is because there isn’t a lot of shade on the trail, so it can get hot and tiring.

This trail will take you to a small waterfall at the end, and there are many side trails as well. You can explore these side trails if you feel like an additional adventure, or if the path is too easy.

The path is fairly wide, which makes it easy to walk, hike, or run. This trail is also frequented by hikers and runners, so be aware of that when you go.

You will be treated to views of the river all along the way. There are also places to stop and sit in the shade by the river, but the actual track doesn’t have shade. You will also cross the No Hands Bridge, which is fairly well-known, and you can swim by the waterfall.

If you are not an experienced hiker or just looking for something easy and relaxing, I highly suggest this trail. Just remember to pack your water bottle!

Distance: 2.2 miles

Features: River Views and a Waterfall

Fees: Free parking

 

2. Robie Point Trail

hiker on overlooking mountain top

The Robie Point Trail can be considered easy to moderate depending on the time of day you do it. I highly suggest attempting this trail in the early morning in the cooler season for an easy hike. The reason for this is because there is very little shade on this trail. It also has a steep climb right at the end, so save some of your energy for that!

The last part of the trail does have some shade and offers plenty of beautiful views. It also follows a river in which you can take a swim if you get too hot. If you are looking for a family day out, this trail will also be perfect. If you keep your dog on a leash, they’re also welcome to tag along.

I suggest packing enough water if you are attempting this trail in the hotter season or later in the day. It will not do to get dehydrated along the way. It is also a good idea to stop a few times along the way. This will help conserve energy for the last climb and also allow you to seek shade when you need it.

Distance: 5.5 miles

Features: River, wildflowers, and views

Fees: $10 for parking

 

3. Quarry Trail

One of the easier hiking trails near Auburn is Quarry Trail

This trail can also be considered easy to moderate, depending on your own skill level and the weather. It is an out-and-back trail and features some impressive sights along the way.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the old rock quarry and the foundations of the bridge. This is where the trail gets its name and is very interesting to see.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Quarry Trail had more than enough shade along the way. This does mean that this trail can be hiked in either the summer or winter months. If you do go in the winter, you’ll be treated to wonderful green vistas. The landscape gets significantly lusher after some heavy rains.

The trail follows a little river that offers up swimming spots along the way if you do get hot. And although it doesn’t lead to a waterfall, in the rainy season you may be treated to views of some. The surrounding natural vegetation is beautiful, and you’re guaranteed to see some wildflowers as well.

The flora in these parts is a very big drawcard for birds. If you are keen on bird watching, do bring your binoculars with you as it will be well worth it. Birders flock to this trail to keep an eye on their winged friends who frequent these parts.

Distance: 11.2 miles

Features: Rock quarry, bridge foundation, wildflowers, and views

Fees: $10 for parking in the parking lot, otherwise free


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Moderate Auburn Hiking Trails

If you are done with the easier hikes and are looking for something a little more challenging the next 4 trails are perfect.

4. Lake Clementine

Foresthill Bridge at Auburn State Recreation Area in California

There are quite a few trails on this list that I would consider moderate. In order to classify a trail as easy, it has to meet a certain set of criteria. Usually, an easy trail will be obvious.

The going should be easy, meaning that it features no extremely steep climbs or descents. It should also not require you to scale difficult obstacles or swim in order to stay on the trail.

Ordinarily, an easy trail will also be fairly short. However, if the path is wide and flat, it can sometimes be longer and still be easy. A moderate trail will generally include some climbs or steep descents.

It may have a rocky or uneven footing in parts and sometimes be fairly lengthy. However, a determined novice hiker will usually still be able to complete a moderate trail.

Lake Clementine is a fascinating trail that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has the impressive accolade of featuring the highest bridge in California. This bridge is known as the Foresthill Bridge and it is actually the third-highest bridge in the US.

Not only will you be treated to this bridge, but there are some spectacular views along the way as well. You will see cascading waterfalls and the beautiful Lake Clementine, the namesake of the trail.

I highly suggest taking a swim in the dam to cool off after the hike. Just remember to pack the bug spray as all the water means mosquitoes are plentiful.

Distance: 4.5 miles

Features: Foresthill Bridge, Lake Clementine, waterfalls, and rivers

Fees: $10 for parking

 

5. Foresthill Divide Loop

Granite and River Valley Along the North Fork of the American River

This is one of the more moderate trails on this list with a few climbs and steep descents. In keeping with our Lake Clementine theme, you will also be able to see this lake on this trail. However, the real drawcard of this loop is the grasslands. The grasslands stretch far and wide and you will be walking among wildflowers for a lot of the way.

This trail loops through natural vegetation and includes beautiful views of the lake. You’ll also get to see spectacular vistas of the North and Middle Forks of the American River along the way.

I highly suggest attempting this trail in the spring so that you can make the most of the wildflower season. Just be mindful of mountain bikers on the way as this trail is frequented by them. As this trail boasts abundant flora, poison oak is also plentiful. However, if you keep a keen eye out for poison oak, you should be just fine.

Distance: 10.7 miles

Features: American River, Lake Clementine, and wildflowers

Fees: $10 for parking

 

6. American Canyon

View of American Canyon, CA

This is another of the trails on my list that features a beautiful waterfall. This trail does feature a fairly steep climb in parts and is therefore considered moderate. You will also have to cross some rivers along the way, but they aren’t very deep.

The best part about this trail is that it includes magnificent views. You will be treated to views of the river as well as views of spectacular mountain canyons. It is an excellent place for bird watchers, so be sure to pack your binoculars.

This is one of the trails that features a lot of poison oak. It can be dastardly if you get it on your skin, so just keep your eyes open and watch out. If you are very worried about not recognizing poison oak, simply wear lightweight long pants.

I suggest taking a swim in the river to cool off about halfway along. There is lots of shade along the way, but I would still advise taking your water bottle along.

Distance: 6.4 miles

Features: Waterfall, river, and mountain canyons

Fees: Free

 

7. Hidden Falls Trail

Hidden Falls in Auburn California

The Hidden Falls Trail or Hidden Falls Loop is located in the Hidden Falls Regional Park. This trail also features a waterfall and it is the last of the trails on this list that I consider moderate.

Due to the fact that this trail is in a park, it can get very busy over weekends and holidays. If you do decide to go on a weekend or holiday, it is best to reserve a parking spot.

The trail follows along a beautiful mountain stream, so you’ll hear the bubbling water all along the way. There is also a waterfall at the end that will be perfect for photos. During the spring, the wildflowers are in abundance, so it is a good time to go. And there are also lots of shaded spots to sit and have a picnic.

I always suggest this trail for families because even though it can be tough going, it is really beautiful. You can also rest along the way, and leashed dogs are welcome.

Distance: 4.2 miles

Features: Waterfall, river, and wildflowers

Fees: $8 for parking, remember to reserve a spot during weekends or the holidays


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Strenuous Auburn Hiking Trails

Ok, let’s get down to business. The next three hikes on my list are for experienced hikers looking for a challenging adventure.

8. Stagecoach Trail

Stagecoach Trail

This is the first of the trails on my list that I consider to be strenuous. The only reason for this is due to the fact that it climbs 800 feet in 2 miles. This will definitely get your heart rate up and is, therefore, more suited to experienced hikers.

During the summer this trail can also get very hot as there isn’t a lot of shade. I highly suggest attempting it in the cooler months if you are susceptible to heat exhaustion. Otherwise, simply pack enough water and you should be good to go.

Expect to see some riparian corridors, chaparral, and a lot of wildflowers when you attempt this trail. I enjoyed the natural beauty of this trail and stopped fairly often along the way for photos. I would suggest being mindful of others on this trail as well. It is often frequented by bikers and horseback riders as well.

Distance: 3.6 miles

Features: Riparian corridors, chaparral, and wildflowers

Fees: $10 for parking

 

9. Cardiac Hill

This trail isn’t on my strenuous list for no reason. The name may already have given it away, but this one is sure to get the blood flowing. This is a very steep trail and therefore quite challenging.

The trail may be steep, but the good thing is that it has plenty of shade. I found that if you took the time to sit and rest along the way, the trail felt a whole lot easier.

You can also swim in the river if you get too hot and need a breather. Because it is such a steep climb, I suggest not attempting this trail in the heat of the day. It is best to go during either the fall or spring, and I would suggest starting in the morning.

Even though the going may be tough, you will be treated to excellent views. Along the trail, you will see various views of the North fork of the American River. You will also be treated to stunning forest vistas, and views of the valley below.

Distance: 4.4 miles

Features: The American River, and forest views

Fees: $10

 

10. Training Hill

Training hill a more challenging auburn hiking trail

The last trail on my list definitely falls into the strenuous category. It features a very steep uphill climb for a lot of the first part of the hike. However, after that, you are rewarded with an easier downhill walk.

The forest area that this trail is located in is particularly beautiful. You will be treated to beautiful natural scenery and forest views. The natural surroundings also mean that this is a hot spot for all manner of woodland creatures.

Just be wary of snakes! This is a popular trail among hikers and runners, so you’re sure to have company along the way. This trail is also a favorite among bird watchers. The wildflowers and natural flora tend to attract a wide variety, so pack your binoculars!

Distance: 4.5 miles

Features: Forest views, woodland animals, birds, and wildflowers

Fees: Free

 

A Note on Auburn Hiking Trails

These ten Auburn hiking trails are all well-suited to those looking for an active, outdoor holiday. I highly suggest exploring these trails with a partner, family members, or friends. It is never a good idea to hike alone.

Two hikers attempting some Auburn Hiking trails

Hiking is in and of itself a strenuous activity in the outdoors. It can be dangerous if you are alone. You may slip and fall, even on the easy trails, and it is, therefore, best to have company. You may also suffer from heat exhaustion, or simply get tired along the way. I always suggest hiking in pairs at the very least.

It is also very important to remember to pack enough water as you won’t always have access to fresh water along the way. It is also a good idea to wear sunscreen and a hat. Check out my handy guide as to what to pack for your hiking holiday!

 

What to Pack for a Hiking Holiday

Woman enjoying her Auburn Hiking Trails

There are a few essential items that you will need when exploring these Auburn hiking trails:

Water Bottle: It is exceptionally important to stay hydrated on a hike. A reusable water bottle will be your very best friend. Pack enough water for the entire hike as you won’t always have access to fresh water sources along the hike.

Hat or Sunscreen: The sun can be extremely damaging for your skin. Protect your skin and eyes with good-quality sunscreen and a hat. You will be more comfortable and will suffer less damage.

Bug Repellant: Mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies can be a nuisance on hikes. Keep them at bay by liberally applying bug repellant.

A Lightweight Backpack: It is a good idea to keep your hands free when hiking. You may need to use hiking poles for strenuous hikes, or you may need your hands to steady yourself on the uneven territory. Either way, pack a backpack to keep all your goodies safe and your hands-free.

Binoculars and a Camera: Hiking allows you to explore the natural beauty of an area in places where cars are usually unable to go. Pack binoculars and a camera to get the most out of your hiking experience. You will be able to see things like birds and the views better with binoculars. And a camera will help you make lasting memories of your Auburn hiking trails experience.


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