Hike the Pioneer Trail

Hike along the North Fork of the American River

Wildflowers unfurling from their winter slumber, birds chirping in the trees, turtles warming themselves in the sun—find your Zen early this spring with a mellow and scenic hike to Avery’s Pond along the North Fork of the American River. The 19th-century irrigation pond is accessed via the Pioneer Express Trail near the top of Folsom Lake.

The trail begins with a steep, rutted incline but quickly mellows into gentle twists and gradual rises. At the top of the canyon the bare trees of early spring grant stunning views of the tranquil river below, otherwise blocked by summer foliage.

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The trail flattens and widens as it descends then loops around the pond itself. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can continue another 5 miles to Auburn. Otherwise, grab a picnic table hidden among the trees.

Beer Bonus: Back in Sacramento, head over to Porchlight Brewing Company (866 57th St., Sacramento) for a little R&R. Try the mouth-puckering blackberry sour or the cocoa-infused barrel-aged stout. Heaters on the outdoor patio keep the spring chill at bay, and neighboring restaurants are happy to deliver if you need a bite. On weekends, local musicians grace the stage … errrr, rather, the back corner of the tasting room.

To reach Avery’s Pond Trail, take the Folsom Blvd. exit from eastbound Hwy. 50 in Folsom and turn left. Continue northeast on Folsom Blvd. It will turn into Folsom Auburn Rd. Auburn Folsom Rd. Continue about 16 miles and turn right on Newcastle Rd. Veer right onto Rattlesnake Rd. and follow it until it dead ends at the parking lot. The unmarked trailhead is to the left of the boat ramp. Parking is $12.

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