American Canyon Trail is a 7.2 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Cool, CA that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
We walked the whole loop as shown on the map. The trail is shaded almost the whole way, which was wonderful, and the condition of the trail was good; you can walk two abreast along several sections. There was just one section where the trail goes steeply downhill for a few hundred yards, where there was some loose rock and sand. My parents, who are in their 60s and not regular hikers, coped with it okay. It took us five hours to complete the loop, with some generous refreshment stops. There are two convenient places to stop for a snack; the first is the memorial bench to Barbara Barsalou-Schoener, which is maybe 2 miles from the trailhead (clockwise), and the second is a picnic table at the end of the long downhill, at the northernmost point of the loop, maybe 4 miles from the trailhead. Trail signage was helpful to keep us on track, but there were several intersecting trails so it's best to have an idea of where you're going--print out the little map of the trail, and bring a compass just in case.
American Canyon - Western States - Maine Bar
Followed American Canyon toward Dead Truck. Don't actually need to go up Dead Truck for loop, instead turn on Western States. Take that to Maine Bar. Then Maine Bar back to 3rd gate.
Started quite late (noon). 32C. Used ~5L water. Most of it is fairly moderate but some trails (Dead Truck, Maine Bar) are quite steep.
+ No car noise
+ Lightly trafficked
+ Mostly shaded
+ Well-signed (if you know which trails you want)
- Cold, fast moving water; not great swimming
- A ton of poison oak
- Somewhat limited views (though there are a few great ones)
Good hiking, not good swimming
This trail was fun and close to home. We completed a 5 mile hike...2.5 downhill to river and 2.5 miles back to the top. River was great for a nice refreshing dip. Swam with horses taken along trail too which was a first. Trail was shaded majority of the path we took.
We took the 2.5 mile out and back. It was moderately difficult, on a trail in the trees the whole way. Limited views down to the river and out, however the river was beautiful with a great view and was very refreshing.
Lording, but difficult to navigate
Hiked this trail with my miniature Eskimo last year. It was hot and dry out but there was a lot of shade on the trail so it was nice. Bring plenty of water or the ability to filter when you reach the bottom. As stated before watch for poison oak and check for ticks once your done (common sense, normal hiking stuff). Fun creek crossings along the way. I found this to be a out and back as opposed to a loop I couldn't figure out where it looped back around. I'm heading out there again soon so I thought I'd write a review on my last experience with the trail.
Beautiful views but if you follow the trail instead of turning around and going the way you came, it's exhausting. The river is really cold but wading was nice after the warm day. Definitely get at least 4 water bottles per person, and cold water or a filter. Though I gave it 4 stars I probably won't go again for a while just because of the difficulty. However I do suggest you check it out at least once. It's worth seeing this beauty at least once.
Recording the hike with this app showed that this trail is actually 9.9 mi..the way back after the pool is exhausting (we took the entire trail and did not expect it to be this hard, but it is doable). Bring plenty of water and clothes to cover arms and legs because the mosquito repellant did nothing... Everybody is right - this trail is very poorly marked, there are many intersecting trails without signs so we ended up going on the wrong trail a couple of times. The combination of our gps on my phone, this app and the link from raftman.com (one of the previous commenters posted it) saved us. This trail is definitely not for unfit people, make u can crawl straight up a mountain for a mile if you go the whole trail :)
It is a pretty nice shaded trail. You can even go off the trail near the dead truck junction to a waterfall.
Very confusing with the signs, but a beautiful hike with amazing views. Also watch out for poison oak
This was a great hike !! But the signs are misleading and it's easy to get confused about which trail to take also I couldn't find the loop to get back so I had to go back the way I came which added 3 miles to my hike . But overall it was great ! You can also swim on the middle fork which was awesome !!
Fantasic trail! Very secluded and a great workout to get back to parking spot. Very limited parking.
Very enjoyable. Some nice views and quite a few wild flowers!
Great hike for a decent workout. Feels secluded.
The trail signs for the loop could be better, was helpful having the app GPS map with me.
Lots of poison oak. Still one of the best hikes in the area.
Tons of poison oak all over the trail.
This was a great trail for late summer. All the trails are marked by signs with distance indicators. We thought it was an in/out trail but due to different trail choices made it a loop. There is definitely poison oak but easy to spot and avoid. Creek crossing a couple of times. Beautiful view of the American River. We took our golden retriever, no issue. There is an uphill 1.9 mile hike out on a well worn trail. It is a little work out but not something I think you should avoid if you have kids.
The trailhead is easily marked but only offers space for 3 compact cars. No fee for parking. From the trailhead there are easily marked other trails which was fun. I think we'll come back and try other routes.
The trail is well shaded- thankful for the break from exposure you get on other trails. Made it perfect for summer hiking!
The trail is overgrown in many places- making it prime poison oak, tick, and rattlesnake territory. For this reason alone I would not recommend children or dogs on this trail.
The trail is heavily wooded. Very quiet and a nice place to get away.
Several spots in the trail there was water crossing the trail- making for muddy or tricky crossing in several places (no bridges). If you are sure-footed it isn't a big deal. But I do wonder what those crossings would look like in the spring or without a drought!
We ended up following our ears down a steep rocky exposed trail (watch out for snakes!) and finding the beautiful rock waterfall. It was small but a nice cool area to rest and picnic. We weren't brave enough to swim but I dipped my toes and it was briskly cold! Pristine water.
The hike out was HARD work. Lots of sweat. Constant ascent.
We never found a "loop". After a few miles we just headed back.
All in all- a nice hike for adult hikers that are in good shape with steady knees and carry plenty of water! Walking stick is helpful.