Locaton: Colfax, CA
Distance: 3.4 miles
Type: Day-hike; Out-and-back
Trailhead Directions: Google Maps
Permits, Fees & Parking: There is no fee if parking off of Ponderosa Way.
IMPORTANT: Please note that the last three miles to get to the trailhead requires driving down a dirt road that is not maintained and is extremely dangerous. A vehicle with clearance and 4-wheel drive is required. The trailhead is next to the Ponderosa Bridge on the right side of the North Fork American River.
NOTE: Drive across Ponderosa Bridge and continue on the dirt road to exit. Follow the dirt road for another three miles until the paved road is reached. Follow the paved road until you hit the main highway.
Preparation: Water, sunscreen and warm clothing if hiking during the winter months are required. To beat the crowds, it’s best to complete this hike as early as possible. Since this hike is a little more difficult to get to the crowds aren’t as large as other hikes in the Colfax and Auburn regions.
Begin the hike to the right of the North Fork American River, next to the Ponderosa Bridge:
The trail follows along a small, narrow path along the North Fork American River. About 1 mile into the hike, the trail splits with the option of hiking to the river (great spot for swimming and relaxing on the bank!). To get to the river, take the trail on the left:
To continue to the Falls, continue straight on the trail. A second split in the trail is located right before reaching the falls. Take the uphill trail to reach the top of the Falls, or take a left to reach the bottom of the Falls. Note that the trail up to the Falls is slippery and steep, so proceed with caution. I recommend hiking to the top first so you can enjoy this view:
Once making your way back down, take the trail split to the bottom of the Falls. Swimming is a great option here:
To get back to the trailhead, take the same trail until the Ponderosa Bridge is reached. This hike is great during the Summer if you need a place to go for a swim and get away for a bit!