American Canyon Trail

Location: Auburn Lake Trails in Cool, CA

Distance: 5.2 miles

Type: Day-hike

Rating: Easy

Permits: None required; free street parking


For this hike, I brought a 32 oz. water bottle, a Quest Bar, sunscreen, a map with trail directions (I highly recommend) and my day-pack. I wore a tank top, leggings, my hiking shoes and a hat. I didn’t bring my swimsuit or a towel, but I highly suggest bringing both since the trail ends at a really cool swimming spot on the American River.

*Note: I hiked this trail alone (first solo hike ever!) and did not bring a whistle or pepper spray, which is recommended for solo hikers. I did, however, inform friends and family that I would be hiking and what time to expect me back home in case anything happened.

The Hike

When preparing for this hike, I looked up a few different directions on how to get to the trailhead. Let’s just say, none were helpful at all, so I’m going to try my best to give clear parking directions.

There are directions online that tell you to park on Pilgrim Way, however, this road does not exist. On Google Maps, this road comes up as “Sweetwater Trail”, which is right off of Highway 193. On Sweetwater Trail, there is an entrance to a private community called Auburn Lake Trails. A couple hundred feet before this entrance to the right is the trailhead for the American Canyon Trail. There are three parking spots in front of the trailhead and street parking along the road. Another marker to help you find the road, Sweetwater Trail, is Pilgrim Court, which is on the opposite side of Georgetown Road (a.k.a. Highway 193). Here is a picture of the trailhead sign that reads “American Canyon Trail – Third Gate”:


The entire first half of the hike is downhill, which makes it go by way too fast! About .8 miles into the hike, there is a fork in the trail. At this point, instead of going straight, take a right and you will see a sign that reads “Wendell T. Robie Tr.”. shortly after this, you will reach a smaller fork in the road and will see another sign that reads “Wendell T. Robie Tr.”. This time, instead of taking a right, continue straight.


After another half mile, I reached the American Canyon Creek, which I crossed using the rocks, and immediately after is another creek called Hoboken Creek.

After crossing these two creeks, I made my way down a narrow path all the way to a sign that read “Dead Truck Tr.” which leads up the mountain. There were two more trails ahead of me to choose from. Luckily, they both lead to the same point at the bottom of the hill near a creek. I’d suggest taking the path to the left, since it isn’t as steep or slippery.


Once I made it to the creek, things got a little tricky. The map I was using ended here, but I wanted to get to the American River. At this point, I decided to cross the creek and found that the trail continued on the other side. I took this trail, which followed the creek down to a fork in the trail. I took a right at a small sign that read “WS Trail”. From here it was a short distance to the river, and it was beautiful. Hiking alone was a really cool experience, and there was no one else around. It was quiet, other than the sound of the running river, and the weather was absolutely perfect.

After hanging out at the river for about 30 minutes, I packed up my stuff and headed back up the trail. The way back was all uphill, despite the parts of the trail that were leveled out. It was challenging, but not strenuous by any means. On the way back, I ran into about 4 people who were also hiking down to the river. Hiking back up took a little longer than planned, but I reached the trailhead, finishing the hike in just under 2 hours.

Overall, the hike is pretty easy physically, but since there are several trails that intertwine, it can be easy to get lost. This trail is perfect to hike in September, since the crowds of the summer have died down and the weather is still nice.