Western States Pioneer Express Recreation Trail

MODERATE 24 reviews

Western States Pioneer Express Recreation Trail is a 8.8 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Auburn, CA that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

8.8 miles 1433 feet Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

rails trails

trail running

walking

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

Enjoy views of the Middle Fork American River Canyon on this easy walk which includes a historic arched cement bridge and a waterfall. This short walk brings you up to and then across the Mountain Quarries RailRoad Bridge, which was the longest concrete arch railroad bridge in the world when it was built in 1912. Enjoy great views of the Middle Fork American River Canyon and marvel at what was a fantastic feat of construction for its time. The triple span bridge was built by the Mountain Quarries Company and the Pacific Portland Cement Company for the purpose of hauling limestone from the nearby quarry to Auburn, 7 miles away. Trains ran across the bridge down to the quarry 4 times daily until the quarry was abandoned. In 1942 the tracks were pulled out for scrap metal for WWII. You might also hear the bridge called the "No Hands Bridge". This is a throwback from the early years of the Tevis Cup Trail Ride, an equestrian race that goes from Squaw Valley in Tahoe to Auburn. Challenged by onlookers who noted the bridge's former lack of guard-rails, one of the riders, Ina Robinson, would drop her reins and go across "No-Hands". The bridge now does have metal guard rails, but the name has stuck with it.

21 days ago

Amazing!!

walking
26 days ago

There are three entrances to this trail. Absolutely loved the trail with the waterfall. Definitely not kid friendly...

hiking
1 month ago

Used the map associated with this site, yikes, waaaaay off, don't do it. The trail is beautiful, but I must do more research. A literal maze of trails intersecting and crisscrossing. all trails.com does not provide a map naming them or accurately marking them. DO hike this trail, but DO more research and don't rely on this map. We are experienced hikers and got lost twice.

4 months ago

5 months ago

Had a good time, weather was nice. Hike was decent not too hard and a nice spot to hang out by the river at the end.

6 months ago

To get to the falls just follow the path! Don't deviate and go down where the "tree tunnel" is. It will not take you to the falls. Get an early start before it gets to hot. Bring plenty of water. To the falls and back is only about 3 miles but following the trail and making the loop is about 7 miles.

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome hike. Make the effort to get down to the water!

8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

This was a great hike for my 2 & 4yo. Get there early. We only went to the falls. It was about 2.4miles round trip.

1 year ago

Great trail for families. Loved looking at scenery and history of the railroad.

hiking
1 year ago

It was definitely really dusty with a lot of poison oak all over the sides of the trail. We noticed a lot of trail runners that were mostly friendly. There was also a lot of horse manure all over the trail as well as dog poop. I really wish dog owners would pick up after their dogs. Also, the falls were definitely disappointing due to the lack of water statewide.

camping
1 year ago

Good hike but tiny waterfall and wish there was more water holes.

hiking
1 year ago

Really nice easy trail to a cute year round water fall. Area is crowded on weekends and holidays due to easy access and great river views. A nice springtime hike. Too hot and lots of poison oak in the summer.

1 year ago

probably one of the most relaxing trails I've been on. only saw about 6 people the entire 2 hours. so peaceful. loved seeing the little bridge and waterfall out of nowhere and a lot of open site seeing views! a few challenging little climbs but all in all we ran the trail on all open areas. pretty gem :)

hiking
3 years ago

Easy walk along the river.Small waterfall to see and a lot of history to learn.

hiking
3 years ago

And speaking of wildlife there is a nude beach along the river that seems to be popular with overweight middle aged men. Can't see it from the trail but you may want to avoid some the spur trails down to the river at the lower part, especially if you have kids or just ate.

trail running
3 years ago

This is a very nice 4 season trail. As another reviewer mentions it is considerably longer than listed here and you can do any distance you want, a popular route is between the confluence and the dam overlook in Auburn, I believe that us about 4 mi. One way.

Lots of wildlife, I've seen coyote, bears, rattlesnakes and king snakes along this trail among other critters. Beautiful views of the canyon all along the way.

About 1.5 miles from the confluence there is an uphill fork in the trail that you can take to continue the hike to the overlook, it is almost where the trail dead ends on the old railroad grade that you climb from the bridge (actually you can continue along the grade with some bushwacking). There are maps on the web that show you the way - there are several trails that criss cross this part of the canyon.

3 years ago

Great hike. Even though there were lots of cars parked at the trail head, the trail wasn't crowded. Scenery was lovely with lots of wildflowers in bloom. My miniature dashchund had no trouble navigating the trail. Trail is mostly level with just one steep section as you go down to the falls.

3 years ago

Great hike. Arrive early if you want to park for free near gate 150 and to avoid the late risers. Definitely more people walking in as we were coming out. Can't beat the views of the American River. Plan on bringing back the littles (6 and 8 years old) next time! Oh, and TONS of poison oak!!!!

3 years ago

What a beautiful and relaxing place to hike. The guide was very helpful as well.