North Fork of the American River

Auburn, California 95604

North Fork of the American River

North Fork of the American River Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The North Fork of the American River is touted for whitewater rafting and gold mining. It’s rough and scenic, with boulder banks, raging rapids, and deep-blue pools. This ruggedly secluded hike lets you get intimate with this famous fork, then it heads into rolling foothills, highlighted by photogenic views of the river and some bizarre rock outcrops called Pointed Rocks. Pointed Rocks shows off its plentiful native wildflowers in spring."

North Fork of the American River Trip Reports

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Ths well marked trail is called Mumford Bar Hike. It is off Foresthill Road at 5,000 feet elevation. As with many hikes in that area, they are backward from what folks like to hike. Downhill to the river then all uphill back out to the car. I like it because it has some elevation loss/gain and is a good training hike for more difficult hikes. From 5,000 ft. to 2,500 ft. and return to 5,000 ft. in only 6 miles. For every 6.3 feet horizontal, you loose/gain 1 foot in elevation; 6.3 to 1. Half Dome in Yosemite is a 9.9 to 1. (My personal rating system; the lower the first number, the harder the hike. Take the mileage in feet divided by the elevation gain/loss) It is shaded for about 95% of the hike and the river water is cold and clear and it is very secluded. Well worth the trip for a 1/2 day hike. Or spend the entire day fishing or relaxing at the bottom. But bring your water with electrolites and some power gel. You'll need them.
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We love Trainers Hill Trail! It's a killer, but it's not very long - less than a mile. The hike is much easier after that, if you don't get lost, which we did the first time. Probably did 9 or 10 miles. The secret is knowing that where you are supposed to turn left onto Western States Trail, the trail sign says "Wendell T. Robbie Trail." If you miss that, you end up in the town of Cool and beyond. The good part about getting lost is that we discovered a lot of smaller trails. That gave us great reference the next time we went on the hike. We're going again this weekend and we're going to explore some of the other trails with some confidence. Yes, the signage is poor, and it can get muddy, but if you like a challenge, followed by a nice walk, this is for you. And if you don't get lost, the view of the American River is lovely. I can't wait to do this hike after the wildflowers bloom.

----------FOLLOW UP: we live in Sacramento so we now do this hike several times a year. If you go in the summer, go early, as Trainer Hill has no shade and will kick your butt. And watch out for the critters. Last summer, we were winding our way toward the end. We passed a couple people on horses and as they turned on the switchback, they yelled down to us "two bears are coming your way." Two bears are never good - it was a mother and her teenager. We ran smack into them on the trail. It took a lot of yelling before they finally took off. Black bears in California aren't that big a deal, but mother bears aren't to be taken lightly. Since then, we've talked to others who ran into bears in the same area. Just be prepared to make some noise.
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Directions extremely confusing- ended up hiking 10 miles due to missed signs (if there were any)

Trainers hill was brutal- and after all of that hiking there was no view. Very strenous- would not suggest unless in excellent health.

Overall, a dissapointment
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Started with Trainers Hill and proceeded counter clockwise.
The Trainers Hill was brutal especially in the hot weather. There is very little shade and the sun is very direct in the early afternoon.
Once you reach the top the trails it is very pleasant. The damage from the spring rains is not extensive.
Ton's of horse droppings, ruins the atmosphere a little.
On the downhill portion of the trail the shade was great very cool many of the creeks were very full making picturesque mossy cascades.
(Beware ton's of Poison Oak!)
Toward the end of the downhill came a very large muddy section extremely torn up by horses, took some dexterity to avoid getting muddy.
Overall a very pleasant hike with a perfect degree of challenge.
Just watch out for Poison Oak and Horse Manure!

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We hiked this in late April. The trainers hill portions was good climb and really got us breathing. But after that the hike was decidedly easier. It was spring and everything was lush and green. Still quite a bit of water on the ground. You share this trail with horses and the trails is a but torn up because of it, but not real bad. In the summer I imagine the dust will be bad, but spring time it was fine.

North Fork of the American River Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
1,000 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Auburn State Recreation Area
Local Contacts
USGS Auburn
Local Maps

Trail Log