Destination California: Lake Clementine Trail in Auburn

Destination California

AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) — More people are looking for outdoor activities during the pandemic and hiking can be perfect for social-distancing fun.

Auburn is a hot spot for hiking with dozens of paths and over 100 miles of trails to explore.

“This is my backyard,” Stephanie Buss said.

Buss, an Auburn resident, said she’s been hiking in the area since the early 90s. 

One of the most popular hikes is the Lake Clementine trail. 

There’s limited parking at the trailhead and the area can get congested fast. So, plan for an early hike.

In a 4.6-miles round trip, hikers take a scenic route that ends with a spectacular view of water falling over the top of a 155-foot dam.

Lake Clementine was created when the North Fork Dam was completed in 1939 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent gold mining debris from flowing down the river.

The hydraulic mining on the upper north fork near Gold Run created immense amounts of sediment runoff that choked the American and Sacramento rivers downstream, even impacting the Bay Area.

Before reaching the dam, hikers can’t miss the Foresthill Bridge towering 730 feet above the river, making it the highest bridge in California and the fourth highest in the United States.

And, there’s more to do than just admire the sights. The small lake has a boat launch ramp, marina and boat-in campsites.

Locals urge visitors to be careful. 

Drownings and river rescues are common, often due to the daily rising river levels that can endanger people swimming in the water.

The area gets hot, so bring plenty of water, bring the right footwear and, most importantly, “Respect the trails,” Buss said. “If you’re on the trails, pack it in, pack it out.”

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