Tourists traveling to the Sacramento and Western Sierra Foothills Area from the north via the Golden Chain Highway are welcomed to the region by the gold rush towns of Nevada City and Grass Valley. Once rivaling San Francisco and Sacramento in population, Nevada City has reinvented itself, turning from gold fields to grape fields as it hosts a flourishing wine industry. North of the town lies Malakoff Diggins, the world’s largest hydraulic mining site, while to the south Empire Mine State Historic Park preserves what was once California’s largest and richest hardrock mine. Farther south, at Coloma, a replica of Sutter’s Mill stands on the original site of the 1848 gold discovery that started the worldwide rush to California. Placerville, once called “Hangtown” because of its speedy law enforcement, has the distinction of owning its own gold mine, which is open for tours. Columbia State Historic Park, near Sonora, provides the opportunity to tour an actual gold rush era town, with its original buildings, covered boardwalks, and storefronts. Fortunately, the tourist wares for sale in most of the shops fail to dent the authentic feel of the town, which even has two operating Victorian-style hotels. Coulterville, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, once had 50 saloons. But all that glitters in this area is not gold. Twelve large lakes offer their shining surfaces to water sports enthusiasts. Campgrounds included in this eTrail are: Malakoff Diggins, South Yuba, Nevada County Fairgrounds, Scotts Flat Lake, White Cloud, Skillman Group Camp, Rollins Reservoir, Auburn, Parker Flat OHV Staging Area, Sugar Pine OHV Staging Area, Sugar Pine Reservoir, Big Reservoir, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area, Marshall Gold Discovery, Sly Park, Chaw'se Indian Grinding Rock, New Hogan Lake, New Melones Lake, Don Pedro Reservoir, Lake McClure, and Merced River Recreation Area.
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