16 miles from Auburn Courthouse. 7.7 miles, one way. MAP
Popular trail for mountain bikers with intermediate riding skills, this trail goes from Salmon Falls Bridge (where the South Fork of the American River finally reaches Folsom Lake) to Peninsula campground state park, at the end of Rattlesnake Bar road. Fun for hikers too, but expect bikes, especially on fair weather weekends. This trail is good for winter time hiking when the higher elevation trails are under snow. Expect to get baked during the hot days of mid-summer.
Directions: Take highway 49 from Auburn to the quaint little town of Cool, then continue to Pilot Hill to turn R on Salmon Falls road. Drive about 5 miles to the Salmon Falls Bridge and check for room at the free lot on the west side of bridge, or use one of the pay lots ($) available at the trailhead across from the Skunk Hollow rafting takeout.
The trail climbs up steeply from the parking lot with a rocky start for the first half mile, but soon smooths out with nice level sections farther along, and great views of Folsom Lake. The trail winds around a few tricky stream crossings that will challenge beginning riders, but if they don’t mind walking the harder stuff the trail does have a lot of easy riding. The ride ends with a climb into the Peninsula Campground, sometimes closed in winter, where you can turn back or make a loop ride by following the paved road to Pilot Hill and back to the bridge (14 miles). There are quite a few side trail options to explore around the Peninsula, and if the lake is low you can even ride across the old Salmon Falls Bridge.
History: Levi Darrington was a pioneer of 1860 who had a 780 acre ranch in this area after he gave up mining and became a butcher. The old Salmon Falls bridge took traffic out to Rattlesnake Bar Road before Folsom Dam flooded that old way and traffic began using the new bridge farther upstream.