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Mountain Biking Northern California
by Roger McGehee (Falcon Guides)
© Roger McGehee/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.
Stevens Trail located in Colfax, CA is just off I-80, Exit 135. The almost 4 mile trail descends 2,400 FT to the North Fork of the American River. The breathtaking scenery passes an old abandoned mining cave and several small water falls which are easy to cross. The most spectacular sight is the many varieties of flowers blooming in early spring, with breathtaking colors along the trail. I consider the hike to be moderate as one must hike back up the 4 mile distance back to the parking area. Suggest early morning start, most folks can complete within a 3 hour time frame. Bring plenty of water and snacks and enjoy a peaceful and well deserved rest along the shore of the river. Enjoy the hike, it is truly a wonderful way to stay in shape, preparing for a more rigorous adventure.
This hike is listed three times in trails.com with differing names and trail head map illustrations. There are also three different directions to the trail head. None of the directions are completely correct.
Take Interstate 80 East to Colfax. Take exit 135 for Colfax, Grass Valley, and Highway 174. Turn left onto North Canyon Way, but avoid taking a hard left that will send you back onto the freeway. Go 0.6 miles to the Stevens trail head parking lot on the left. A sign at this point indicates the end of the county maintained road.
UTM coordinates of the parking lot are 0677587E, 4330309. Neither the trail nor the parking lot show on the USGS Colfax quadrangle.
There is a restroom in the parking lot.
The "Ranger Station" depicted on the USGS Colfax quadrangle is really a CDF fire station.
Beautiful hike, with several small streams intersecting the path; even a waterfall. It was hot when I went, making the trail's destination (the American river) a very welcome midpoint. The hike was overall pretty easy, although there is some elevation change and uphill hiking on the way back. I liked it and will go back.
I-80 east from Sacramento; take Colfax exit, go left and stay on frontage road; it deadends at parking area for trail access (easy directions, easy to find). Trail is about 8 miles round trip; unfortunately, it's downhill first. Dramatic views of North Fork American River (not for the timid--the narrow trail has several long sections featuring a sheer drop of 1,000 plus feet to jagged rocks and the river). The payoff at the bottom of the trail is the crystal clear waters of the American River with great swimming and fishing. Keep in mind that the ride up gains 1,700 feet in 4 miles. We only saw three other people all day on the trail and at the river (it was a weekday); all were hikers.
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