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Western States Pioneer Express Recreation Trail

MODERATE 171 reviews

Western States Pioneer Express Recreation Trail is a 8.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Auburn, California 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.

Distance: 8.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1,259 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash


horseback riding

nature trips

bird watching


partially paved

rails trails




wild flowers


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.

Midweek hike with Chris

2 months ago

Trail got toasty pretty early in the day (by 10am for sure). couldn't find the first little turn, so went in a larger turn instead (see recording). fun trail though! feels good

3 months ago

over grown
5 months ago

Beware of ticks and poison oak. I saw a Bobcat and some Quail.

5 months ago

This was good enough for some exercise. We started at the Auburn Skate Park / American River Canyon Overlook and hiked down. Lots of different ways to walk and not a whole lot of direction. We just went where it seemed nice. Rocky, overgrown in some areas. We’ve experienced better but it got us out of the house so that’s ok.

I would recommend this trail, there are some markers out so you need your GPS to stay on trail. Beware of poison oak, there’s a ton!

Great trail. Moderate is correct, lots of connecting trails so it’s easy to get on the wrong path. Highly recommend tracking the trail via GPS. The hike is a great workout, especially if you run parts of it. The waterfall is also very nice. The only thing negative about the trail is the amount of horse poop. Watch your step.

7 months ago

Just went in February with my gf and doge. Lots of snow EVERYWHERE. Tons of people still out trail running though. There are a lot of split offs on this trail so we ended up doing different parts of a few separate trails and then just heading back because of rain. Still very nice though we will be heading back soon.

9 months ago

Favorite hike

10 months ago

Great place to getting some trail running in. Sort of narrow in some parts and people like to ride their horses in the area so be careful.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Good cardio trails with my dog

Friday, September 21, 2018

Nice hike. We took a small trail above Robie Point and saw some old home foundations and an old fireplace aching an old brick pathway around the house. Pretty cool.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Nice hike 8 plus miles around trip.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

LOTS of ticks, but very scenic.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Great trail. Things I wish I knew: I suggest taking one of the routes closest to the water on your way out, then taking the highlighted route back. Great views by the water and also makes it a little more interesting. You can dip in the water if you want. Also, there were a few more interesting rocky areas (very short) where you had to climb a little. There are some areas, maybe 20-30%, that are wide open in the sun and on a wide trail (which I disliked). But this was only a minor inconvenience. Bring lots of water - I went through all 3L on a sunny day. Watch out for poison oak at the very beginning!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

started at training hill. pretty easy mostly flat. beautiful views. lots of butterflies this time of year. just after the waterfall maybe 3 minutes is a picnic bench which is nice. sadly some lame people throw garbage over the side. this would be good for trail running. also the trail is about 70% sun and 30% shade.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Great hike with a little bit of everything — flat trail, inclines, rocks and streaming water! The pathway is very narrow. Enjoyed seeing all the greenery and a few small critters!

Monday, February 19, 2018

It was a great hike, but has a poor directory/ hiking trail instructions. we made it through thanks to the app. But I led our group into a shorter 6-7 mile hike by going down by the river and circling back up. Definitely will return in the warmer times to hike again! note to all hikers and trail runners, watch out for horse poop

Monday, December 25, 2017

On arrival you come to American River Canyon Overlook park. Dont bother with doing the first loop or heading to the very end of the black trail marker. The area is fenced off so it forces you to go around. Look at my return tracks. The start of the trail is across the parking lot from the out building behind a big metal Flag pole in a chained off area. Drop down behind the flag pole and head left at the gate. First impressions of the place was "what a dump"! Things got better after the first mile and the views are nice. Typical river views. Wear your muck boots as its obvious the people using their horses over feed them. I'll return to the area to use some of the other trails but will consider parking at another location. Lots of runners on the trail.

Monday, November 20, 2017

This was fun. My friend and I started at 6:30 from the WS trailhead. We saw a chewed up deer leg right near the beginning. Then we saw 3 or 4 live male deer and a couple females along our way. We are training for a backpacking trip, so this trail was nice because we could wander around on many different trails. There are some steep areas, depending on the trail you take. You continually run into people. The only reason that is a bad thing is because there are not many flat areas where you can wander off to pee, so I was usually right off trail with my friend having to warn any oncomers. :P

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Cool trail--well maintained. Today was a lovely fall day. We saw a dozen or so trail runners, one other hiking party, and a bunch of turkey buzzards. We'd do it again.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

So I accidentally ended my beginning of the hike at robie point and then had to restart my track lol but this hike was AMAZING! Did the entire 8.8 miles starting at American canyon overlook park. Plennnnty of places to park there. The hike was definitely a challenge, especially on the way back up. Bring lots of water! There were really nice views of the river and it was cool to cross "no hands" bridge! Interesting to read about the history on the plaques. There was also a nice little waterfall and small bridge to check out :] Definitely planning on returning to this hike in a few weeks! I really enjoyed the variety of sights to see along this hike and there were a few spots that were prime to sit and take breaks (bench/picnic table). That uphill really gets your heart pumping!

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Returned to this trail to take it All the way to the Calcutta Falls and it was great. Easy 2.3 mile in and out hike. Definitely start early morning this time of year (August).

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mediocre hike. Not much interesting to see for the 1st hour, but then the view opens up. Seems there is a trailhead at the end of the hike, and therefore may be a better starting point. I took the Western states trail on the way back and this was much more interesting. GPS is a must for this hike as there are a lot of trails. Would be nice for trail running, but I would not hike this again

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nice, easy hike.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Cool little place!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Very beautiful views of the river and greenery, but also extremely challenging to run with some steep sections. Mix of single track and wider path. Was very muddy when I went, would like to try again under better conditions. Would also be a nice hike.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Good moderate hike. Surprisingly void of other hikers on a Memorial Day weekend!

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