There’s no need to travel far to get your outdoor adventure fix. California is a playground for adventure enthusiasts including nearby Placer County where you can combine the creature comforts of bigger cities with acres of open land. Hop on a bike, a horse, or a zipline and try your hand at rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and more, all before you retreat to town for a hot meal and good wine.
While any time of year there is sure to be adventure in the hills, spring is ideal when it comes to weather. As the ground dries out, hiking trails become more accessible and aren’t too hot to enjoy even midday and roaming the farmer’s market with its rows of fresh produce this time of year is an experience all its own.
Ever wanted to try rock climbing on for size? Quarry Park is a family-friendly recreation park and amphitheater in Rocklin that caters to adrenaline junkies looking to challenge themselves both physically and mentally.
Participants suit up for an elevated adventure, traversing the large rock quarry on difficult obstacle courses. There are several routes to choose from—and you can try them all—that include suspension bridges, giant logs, and other obstacles designed to test your skill (and nerves). The course also includes ziplines and the opportunity to propel down to the valley floor, attached to nothing more than a single line.
After you’ve exhausted the ropes courses, try rock climbing and repelling on the giant boulders surrounding the quarry. For young kids, older adults, and everyone in between, the course allows for a safe place to learn the basics. 5373 Pacific St., Rocklin
Hiking & Biking
Colfax & Auburn
One of Placer County’s most desired past times is hiking in large part because the mild year-round weather caters to the adventure. In spring, the trails are drying out but the heat is still at bay, making it possible to finish those longer hikes without an alarm set before sunrise. Some of our favorite treks include:
Steven’s Trail in Colfax isn’t for the faint of heart. The out-and-back trail falls just short of 8 miles roundtrip and includes stunning views along the American River. Springtime brings with it vibrant wildflowers blooming over the four-mile trek as well as waterfalls along the way (which should be flowing steadily this time of year). The trail is open to both bikers and hikers. To park, find North Canyon Way in Colfax (take the second Colfax exit heading east and turn left onto Frontage Road). A sign marked “Trail” signals where to start. North Canyon Way, Colfax
Also near the North Fork of the American River, Windy Point Trail provides a shorter distance with steep terrain. The trail is about two miles out and back and proffers equally as gorgeous wildflowers along the way as well as some spectacular canyon views. Hikers beware; however, the trail is not an easy one to traverse. The trailhead, located on Iowa Hill Road, is a bit harder to find. If you take the Highway 174 exit, turn right onto Canyon Way and then left on Iowa Hill Road. You’ll continue for about four miles over the bridge and into a campground before several large boulders and a very small sign that simply says “trailhead” signal you’ve found the spot. Parking is limited. Iowa Hill Road, Colfax
For something a little easier, Lake Clementine Trail in Auburn offers a quick panoramic hike clocking in at 1.9 miles each way. Large oak trees and conifers shade a majority of the trail making it easy to tackle even in the afternoon sun. At the end, hikers are rewarded with waterfall views created by the Lake Clementine Dam. To find the trailhead, head to the Auburn State Recreation Area Ranger Station at 501 El Dorado St. At the bottom of the Canyon, catch Hwy 49 Old Foresthill Road for ¼-mile before crossing the curved Old Foresthill Bridge. The trailhead starts at the green gate. Bring $10 for parking. 139 Old Foresthill Rd., Auburn
Auburn & Granite Bay
Whether you’re new to equestrian riding or looking to partake in a favorite hobby, Placer County has plenty of trails to make your dreams come true. Boarding on the Lake is a local spot for guided trail rides on and near Folsom Lake. People are matched with horses that support their skill level and every adventure starts with a brief riding tutorial before riders hit the trail for a two-hour guided trek. On any given ride you can expect to experience varied terrain from trotting through the forest to a steady walk along the lake. 9095 Auburn Folsom Rd., Granite Bay
Another popular spot for horseback riding is Hidden Falls Regional Park in Auburn. The more than 30 acres of trails in the recreational park are open to hikers, bikers, and equestrian riders. The only trick will be finding a horse to take along the paths (many of which are easier to traverse than the above more difficult hikes). 7587 Mears Pl., Auburn
Fuel for your Adventure
You’ll need some protein to gear up for the mighty undertakings on your itinerary and we can’t recommend enough The Baker and the Cakemaker. The deli/bakery makes its own artisan bread daily, which is the hallmark of much of its appeal. Honestly one of the greatest sandwiches you will ever find, stop here and grab a seat outside to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Auburn, or bring it on the trail with you as a welcome reprieve when your legs need a rest. 1102 Lincoln Way, Auburn
For lunch or dinner, don’t skip The Station Public House. Also in Auburn, this indoor/outdoor hybrid eatery offers a seasonal menu of fresh grub and an impressive beer list—perfect if you are a firm believer in the post-hike brew. Many come to sample the beers including both international finds and local favorites, with 40 rotating beers on tap, plus cans, glasses/bottles of wine, and more. The real highlight, however, is the ambiance. An 8,000-square foot outdoor space with covered picnic tables is a great setting for the live music that graces The Station often. 750 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Our favorite place for a nightcap, The Pour Choice offers up grub for any time of day. Post- or pre-dinner we like to partake in a Cheese + Charcuterie Board featuring thoughtfully curated meats and cheeses accompanied by other house made preserves and goodies along with a glass of wine (some of which are served on tap). A ciabatta grilled cheese sandwich, loaded salad, and Sourdough Pretzel Braids are just a few of the other items on the menu. A smattering of breakfast/bakery and dessert options are also available, and, because the Pour Choice believes in, well, choices, you can forgo the beer and wine for coffee at any time of day. 177 Sacramento St., Auburn
PlacerGROWN Auburn Farmer’s Market
One of Auburn’s best gems is the Auburn Farmer’s Market. The location right smack in Old Town transports visitors to a simpler time drawing on the small-town culture and charm of Auburn. Peruse the booths for curated goods that boast the bounty of the region and fresh produce to take home. The market runs from 8 AM-noon on Saturdays in the Old Town Courthouse parking lot. 150 Auburn Folsom Road, Auburn
The Wine Trail
Auburn & Lincoln
Placer County is also home to an impressive collection of wineries. So, when you take a break from the heart-pumping adventures you can relax and unwind with a glass of vino in hand. Part of the Sierra Foothills AVA, there are 19 wineries on the official trail map. Lone Buffalo Vineyards (7505 Wise Road, Auburn) offers an impressive line-up of reds, Casque Wines (9280 Horseshoe Bar Rd., Loomis) provides an easy way to spend an afternoon between its impressive Bordeaux and Rhone varietals and the Flower Farm Café for food on site, and PaZa Winery (3357 Ayres Holmes Rd., Auburn) creates a rustic yet elevated tasting experience with their outdoor tasting shed.
When you’re ready to eat, there’s no need to step away from your wine tasting experience. Wise Villa Winery—a family owned and operated venture in Lincoln—is both a Tuscan-style bistro and an award-winning winery. Farm to fork specials include Crispy Brussels Sprouts topped with bacon jam and Point Reyes Bay Bleu Cheese, and tender, grilled USDA CAB Steak Bites. A favorite feature of the menu is that many dishes are accompanied by a pairing suggestion for Wise Villa Wines (of which you can taste five for $15). If you stay for dinner, try the Rack of Lamb or Roasted Duck Breast, both cooked to perfection and paired with farm-fresh veggies. 4200 Wise Rd., Lincoln
Rest Between Adventures
Looking for a place to catch some zzzz’s in between all of that physical exertion? Holiday Inn Auburn checks all of the boxes for a voyage of this magnitude. The centric location in Auburn puts guests close to all of the action, plus the on-site eatery Max’s Restaurant offers three meals everyday so you won’t go hungry even if you’re too tired to leave your overnight digs. Really too tired to venture out? In ‘N Out is conveniently located steps from your front door.
If that isn’t enough to convince you, the hotel boasts over-sized rooms with modern amenities and an outdoor pool for cooling off in between outings. Plus, a fitness center if you need a quick warm-up.
Have time? Fit these stops into your schedule.
Claude Chana Gold Panner Monument
A 45-ton concrete statue of a Gold Rush Era miner stands at the entrance to Old Town Auburn. Lincoln Way and Park Street, Auburn
The Gold Rush Museum
Learn more about the infamous Gold Rush and the part Auburn played in its history. Take the self-guided grounds tour and pan for gold. 601 Lincoln Way, Auburn
Historic Auburn Courthouse and Placer County Museum
Learn about the history of Placer County and view the Thomas Kinkade painting “Auburn Centennial.” 101 Maple Street, Auburn
Historic Auburn Firehouse & Bell
Built in 1893, the historic bell underneath the third-floor witch’s hat roof draws many visitors. Lincoln Way and Commercial Street, Auburn
Little Bird Mercantile
A cute shop offering vintage goods and home décor in Downtown Auburn. 815 Lincoln Way, Auburn