North Fork of the American River Lake Clementine Trail

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Auburn State Recreation Area

North Fork of the American River Lake Clementine Trail is a 2.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Cool, California that features a river 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.

Distance: 2.8 miles Elevation Gain: 744 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

kid friendly


horseback riding

nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers


To prevent the spread of COVID-19 there is currently no vehicle access to this trail or others in the park. See here for more info: Note: this trail does not go to the the lower lake Clementine Dam. You can drive on Lake Clementine Rd to access the Dam.

2 days ago

Just did this trail this morning and the All Trails app takes you the wrong way that DOES NOT lead you to a waterfall. When you first start and get to a fork in the trail, GO LEFT. We went right because the app says that’s the trail to take but it only leads you to floating bathrooms on the water. The trail to the right is good for a nice workout. All decline on the way down and incline on the way up, nice scenery and view of the water but no waterfall.

2 days ago

Did this trail last Sat. A couple of things. First off the park Ranger didn’t allow anyone to drive in and park. So we had to park on HWY and walk in which added an additional 1 mile. Then we were met by the Masses of people that came out due to state restrictions open. We also where NOT allowed to bring our pup down to the falls for some rando me reason, so we had to turn around and take the other trail which was all downhill and led us to old Foresthill road. At this point we realized that we need to somehow head back up to Foresthill Bridge but by then it was already about 90 and we had ran out of water. We attempted to walk back up by taking a trail that led us to a point unable to climb. By then I almost fainted and we ended up calling an UBeR to take us back to car. Probably won’t do this hike again.

7 days ago

Easy nice walk down to the water. Be ready for the burn on the way back up.

Easy trail. Down hill the whole way down to a small waterhole. All uphill the way back. Not too much to see, a couple vista points. Overall a nice walk.

13 days ago

Had to do this hike twice to reach the waterfall, there is a fork, if you go right at the fork and take a dirt trail that trail goes downhill, at the bottom of this you’ll find floating bathrooms, bugs, mosquitos and spider webs and that’s it. If you go left and follow the pavement you’ll find the waterfall at the bottom, the way back is all uphill so be ready for that bum to burn!

All downhill in the beginning, but not too steep. All uphill back. About 1/3 of the trail was shaded (around 2pm) the rest was full sun

24 days ago

The walk down was nice but going back up was mostly the hard part.

27 days ago

Great hike, the main trail is closed but surrounding trails are open. Just use those trails to this one and you’ll get to the waterfall dam. Worth the hike, started around 530 and back to the car around 8ish. Weather was perfect and no one was there because it was later in the day

Make sure you check the map, there is a bottom and top part of the lake the top part has the dam otherwise it’s a beautiful hike!

no shade
2 months ago

Depending on what time of day/year you go there could be areas without shade. If you’re able i suggest checking out Clark’s Watering Hole for a swim, it’s kind of steep to get down but worth it! Parking is $10

3 months ago

Great workout trail, the climb back up was killer, not as bad as training Hill, but still a challenge. There's floating backthrooms at the bottom and a porta potty which was convenient. Lots of shade, will do again in summer!

Good leg workout. All down hill 1st half. Uphill 2nd half with some steep grades.

8 months ago

basically it's a serv road a spot between upper and lower clemintine. but it can be a nice walk in the woods.

Just a service road so easy terrain. Fairly steep in some sections but nothing dramatic. My 3 year old was able to do the entire descent and about 2/3 of the ascent in the heat. Little beach down at the bottom is nice and secluded. Gentle rocks to walk on. Motor boats with loud music were common but nothing too annoying.

Thu May 23 2019

Fine hike if you’re looking for some decline/incline work. Otherwise it was pretty bland. Really just an access road that leads down to a small beach. No single track or skills required to accomplish this. Also, only one “overlook” with a view of the river. I’d honestly pass on this as a hike unless you’re looking to go swimming at the beach at the bottom of the road.

Pretty easy walk down an access road. One good lookout point but not much to see at the end of the trail at the lake. There is a floating porta potty to check out though

Tue May 21 2019

was a nice walk next to the river nice views alot of shade ..bugs bugs everywhere I enjoyed ...

Thu Sep 13 2018

Beautiful scenery but not much of a trail it’s just a road. Also be aware of a much more active wildlife area compared to other trails further west towards auburn. Don’t take the trail alone. Trail head parking will high center small vehicles. I will not go back.

Fri Jun 15 2018

I started from the dam and found a very overgrown trail (difficult to follow) that followed Lake Clementine’s edge. Keeping the lake to the left of me and following the shore, I ended up at the end of this trail, then hiked up and out on the trail road and made a huge loop back to the dam.

Sat Jun 17 2017

It's confusing because you have to go down and pay and then you're close to the viewpoint for the falls. to get to the trail, you have to walk up and hit the trailhead at the hairpin turn. the gate is marked as 140.

Tue Mar 21 2017

Was not the best "hike" it was just a walk down to the river. But even though we were expecting to hike we just swam and sun bathed instead. Not a good hiking spot but good spot to just chill with a pic-nic and a suit.

Tue Mar 14 2017

This was not a trail, it was a road down to the water. It was half shade half sun. Easy going down but tough coming back up. All trails app said dogs ok however the trail had a no dog sign. Not the best scenery.. we roughed it out hoping for a nice water spot at the end, no suck luck. It was muddy and no where to sit. Won't do this trail again :(

Mon Oct 10 2016

A pretty short hike down to the lake where there is a small access area to the lake. Unfortunately not a lot to see until you get to the lake. but a nice diversion from the connector trail.

Sat Aug 20 2016

It was a decent hike, but the location at the lake was disappointing. Thought there would be a spot for the kids to take a break and play in the water. That's if you don't mind ski boats flying by. Ended up hiking in and then hiking out. The kids were disappointed. There are definitely nicer spots on Lake Clementine than this one.

Sun May 15 2016

Directions are confusing as the pin isn't dropped at the trailhead, but if you go to where el dorado meets 49 and park you can find it. Decent hike. Not terribly difficult, but not a walk in the park either.

Sat Apr 02 2016

Great, challenging at times, hike. Beautiful views.

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