City Girl Hikes: Lake Clementine Trail - Auburn, CA

2:25 PM

Kinda like a staycation...

...but, NOT!

I thought I had more posts specific about various hikes, but I guess I don't. But I'm adding to my series I've dubbed "City Girl Hikes":

Auburn is only a short 30 to 45 minute drive from probably anywhere in Sacramento. So, it makes for a great place to get outdoors and have some fun. Mostly Auburn has been synonymous with trail running for me. Many races in the hard hills of Auburn, CA have been raced, but never hiked (even though it felt like that during most races). I knew it had plenty of trails, but I never took advantage of them...until recently.
I'd been wanting to do this hike for awhile. Selfishly for the cool pics at the end (really middle) of the hike, which I would come to find out were at the dam of Lake Clementine. After very minimal research and creating another All Trails account, I knew the basics about our upcoming hike. It was about 4.5 miles long, easy course, and parking costs $10.

After our CA State Fair adventure with Alex & Melanie, I had asked if they'd like to do a relatively easy hike with us the next weekend. Over the week I did my research, because we probably would have went even if they couldn't have joined us. Luckily, they were free and we made a double date out of it (gag, I know, haha)!

Sunday at 8AM, they arrived and we packed up my car and headed out. Because I was not prepared in the least bit, we had to stop by Starbucks so I could get some caffeine and carbs for the hike. Then at Chevron to get water for my backpack. Normally I'm prepared, but Saturday was a busy day and I had vacation mode/brain going on too.

Me // J // Melanie // Alex
Once we arrived, we quickly found a place to park in the 'paying' section. It was already getting pretty full, but we started to unpack and the fellas left to pay the $10 parking fee. However, there was no Park Ranger on duty to break the $20 we had and the two others around (we asked) couldn't either. So, instead of risking a ticket, we got all our gear together and J went to park the car in the 'Free Parking' section. To get there you have to back track (turn left) to go over the Old Foresthill Bridge and park right after the bridge. Free is free. It's about an additional 0.25mi walk, or in J's case jog, back to the Ranger station/parking area. This area also has maps of the area and bathrooms, which are like fancy outhouses. By fancy, I mean they are structures with toilets that dump directly into the ground, like a PP essentially. But much cleaner and more space, thank goodness.

Ready to rock-n-roll, we walked alongside Old Foresthill Road, passing over the water and coming to a gate on your immediate left. Gate139 is on the actual gate, but there is a free standing sign that directs you to the Lake Clementine Trail (to the left). As skeptical as I was, it was really dummy proof. The gate also has signs for different trail hikes distances, park hours, and also says dogs aren't allowed (but people do not follow this).

Right after the ranger station & bathrooms
As we entered the trail, about 3/4's of a mile down there is a fork, you can go right up to the new Foresthill bridge or left to stay on the trail. Thankfully a helpful hiker told us the difference, or I may have taken us up to a bridge ;) You continue along the hike and you eventually go right under the bridge. Said bridge was a convo piece, discussing if we could walk across it or not. Still not too sure. 

The trail parallels the North Fork of the American River the entire time. It's really pretty to look at and we wondered if anyone swam in it. On our way back, we found out our answer, YES they do! We hadn't planned to get into any water, so no one had their swim suits with them.

Onward, just hiking and chatting along, you come to gate 140. Easy to pass through on the sides, you then are greeted with a paved road that splits. Go immediately to the left and stay on that paved road. There are also signs pointing you to Lake Clementine, but the arrows are a little deceiving on where to go. This road is shared by cars (mostly trucks) towing their boats, which we experienced on our way back up to head home. Be careful, especially since the road is not big enough for cars going in opposite directions to use at the same time. Add pedestrians and it can get a little tricky.

After a little downhill hike, you see the dam and the the Lake, which for some reason I was surprised. I know the hike is called "Lake Clementine," but the whole time I just thought it was the dam. To get down to the dam, you leave the paved road and go to the left to hike down a side trail, down a little further. The trail ends at the dam area, where you have to scale down some rocks along the dam side wall if you want to use as leverage. Once you get down to more rocks, you can sit or hangout and view the dam. This is where all the pics happen. Also, there were damn structures that looked like giant steps that you could climb on, which I didn't but everyone else did.

The mist from the falling water was lovely on this already-starting-to-get-warm day. The full rainbow was also pretty cool to see. Also made from some fun and awesome pics!  However, that mist also covers the rocks and they get slippery, so be careful! After awhile here, most picture taking and water drinking, we decided to head back home. After climbing back up to the top where the side trail begins, we stopped again for some quick photos and snacks. 

Cause you play with SC filters while everyone is eating!
Then we decided to head back to the car. If you go downhill, you must go uphill. So, the first half mile or so is all uphill. Not hard, but enough to start sweating again. Also, this is the road that is traveled by cars/trucks, like I mentioned before, so be careful. We also encountered a handful of mountain bikers on the hike, but everyone was really nice and never aggressive to the hikers.

A Sunday in the summer didn't have too many hikers out there. We didn't feel secluded, but we didn't see to many people. We saw people of different ages and athletic ability, this is really a hike for everyone. It won't be easy for some, but it's doable for almost anyone. The rocks down to the dam are a different story, but at least they could get to the top of the damn for the pretty view!

When we arrived back at the ranger station, two rangers were there helping and directing people where to go. We stopped real quick for the bathroom, but then made or way back to the car. This added more to our mileage to the hike, but not a drastic amount. In all, from the start at the ranger station back to the car, we went 5.23 miles and it took us a little over 2 hours to complete.
View from Old Foresthill Bridge, walking to car.
We were staving at this point, so we headed to Ikeda's for lunch, which has a restaurant and a market with tons of fresh fruit, veggies, and pies. They sell some of the best burgers and fries in Auburn. It is always crowded and this day wasn't any different. We snagged a table for all four of us and grubbed on burgers and fries. On their menu, they also had a Blueberry Bliss Kombucha which was amazing. I barely ever order Kombucha, but the girl let me try it and I was hooked. It was so good and no fermentation taste at all! After we consumed all the calories we decided to peruse the market, where A&M bought a Strawberry Rhubarb pie to go. Also, they thought it would be fun to play Pokemon Go here, apparently there were some things to catch.

Pie in hand, bellies full, we made our way back home. All before 1PM. Such a great way to get active, not have to go too far, and spend time with friends. After a shower of de-dirting ourselves, we napped for a loooong time. I guess it took more out of us than we anticipated!
I think this qualifies as a staycation of sorts...

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