It's hard to define the difficulty of this trail. The incline is gradual but it is 7.7 miles. There are a couple of areas that are a bit treacherous as a slip or fall is on an extreme slope and/or cliff. I DO NOT recommend young children on this trail - not because of the difficulty but because any misstep could result in a long fall off the side of the trail where much of it is a cliff - so I shutter to think of children on this trail. The trail begins in a forested area and opens up to gorgeous views of the North Fork canyon. The ruggedness of this canyon is on full display and trail allows hikers to be in an area that would not be accessible without this trail.
Suffice it to say, I give this trail a 10 with respect to the beauty of the American River and the canyon views. And I give the trail a 10, as much of it is along the steep canyon. I have so much respect and appreciation for the trail builders!
I brought water for my dog but it ended up being unnecessary as there were two stream crossings before reaching the river. (This is in February).
Watch out for poison oak getting ready to sprout over the trail.
The trail ends at the river, where there are beautiful rocks for sunning (depending on time of day) or having lunch while enjoying the river and the steep canyon walls. I was there on a week day. I suspect the weekends could be quite congested :(
Google directions. There is a parking area at the trailhead with no fee. It is obvious where the trail starts once you park.
I DO NOT recommend children. It is simply too dangerous with respect to slips and falls, which could and probably would, in my estimation, be catastrophic.
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