Starting out on Russel Rd. at the top of the canyon in Auburn, CA, the round trip to Clark's Hole (a popular swimming hole on the north fork of the American River) is 5.4 miles. Of course, if you don't want to hike that far, you can park in the Auburn State Recreation Area near the confluence and walk the shorter .7 miles up the Lake Clementine Trail to the swimming hole. However, taking the longer route from the top of the hill makes the dip in the water a nice reward on a hot summer day. The trailhead starts near the parking lot on Russel Rd., which is free to park in. It is a two mile hike down to the river from Russel Rd. and another .7 miles once you reach the river to get to the swimming hole.
The gate with the sign marks the trailhead, and the trail is an old road that was built for stagecoach use in the 1800s.
The trail down to the river is basically all downhill (but not steep). There are some side trails that will eventually get you down to the river, but the quickest way is to stay on the main road and don't take any side trails.
Eventually, the trail opens up with beautiful views of the American River canyon.
About half way down to the river, there is a nice bench to take a break and check out the view. From here, you can see the famous Foresthill bridge in the background (the tallest bridge in California).
Towards the bottom of the hill, the road splits off. To stay on the Stagecoach Trail, you stay to the right.
Once you reach the bottom of the hill, you can access the river. There is a ranger kiosk and some public bathrooms. This spot is very popular for locals in the summer. If you can find a spot, you can pay the $10 state park fee to park on the side of the road and enjoy the river without having to make the 2 mile hike there.
To get to Clark's Hole, you have to cross the bridge over the north fork of the American River.
After crossing the bridge, you'll see this sign on the other side of the river. Following the Lake Clementine Trail will take you to Clark's Hole.
The trail follows the river, and you have to keep walking until you go under the Foresthill bridge.
After going under the bridge, you travel about a quarter mile more to get to Clark's Hole.
There are some nice rocks to jump off of, and the water is perfect in the summertime for a nice cool dip.
Here you can see me diving off a rock just downstream from Clark's Hole.
The water was great, but it was 100 degrees out today. It's 2.7 miles back to the truck and the last two miles are all uphill!!! Good thing I brought a lot of water for the trip back. I needed every drop!
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