Skip to main content

Sacramento Boomer

Take a Hike: Explore Colfax

If you’re looking for a great day-trip destination or just a few new hikes, Colfax has a mix of mild and challenging trails within a stone’s throw of Interstate 80. 

Stevens Trail

Just outside of Colfax is one of the most popular trails in Placer County, Stevens Trail, which conveniently begins at a parking area on North Canyon Way, just outside of Colfax. 

The trail is downhill all the way out, which means it’s a moderate uphill climb all the way back. Stevens is a varied trail with opportunities to see wildlife, Manzanita, laurel, oak woodlands, shale, a historic mine shaft, and even a view of Cape Horn—an early and critical section of the Transcontinental Railroad largely built by Chinese laborers. The trail provides history pay dirt with many seasonal variations and is ideal during mild winters or in wildflower season come April and May. 

At the bottom of the trail, hikers are rewarded with stunning emerald pools of the North Fork of the American River and a cool dip in the summer. Visit Placer describes this trail as 3.2-miles out, with time doubling for the 3.2-mile return. Stevens Trail is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Note: This trail is not recommended for small children or dogs, as the hike back can be demanding.

Pennyweight Trail and Mineral Bar

Pennyweight is a short out-and-back hike of around 1.7 miles in the Auburn State Recreation Area with a day-use fee of $10.

The trail runs concurrent with mining remnants and offers a chance to pan for gold, with “hands and pans,” or take a dip in the summer. In the winter, pay attention to the cold and swift current and enjoy the sounds of the river. 

From Interstate 80 in Colfax, exit at Canyon Way, head north and then turn right onto Iowa Hill Road. It’s 3 miles of paved road to campsites and river. You’ll see the sign on the left for the trailhead about 2 miles out. Proceed to Mineral Bar Campground for a day-use parking permit and trail access before returning to the trailhead. Take time to admire the historic Iowa Hill Bridge, constructed during 1928, before your hike. 


Head to Colfax's Historic Downtown District, the Railroad Museum, or out Highway 174 less than 1 mile or so toward Grass Valley for a look at the Cape Horn historic marker (great views into the canyon from the rustic Red Frog), and take some time to revisit history while enjoying the great outdoors.


Day Hiker: The Gold Country Trail Guide by Mary West

Yuba Trails 2 by Hank Meals

By Pamela Biery

Do you have a favorite trail
 in the region you’d like to see featured? Tell us all about it at
[email protected]