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Stories from the valley

Four Fun Fall Outings in the Foothills

Contributed by Keli Gwyn

For many in the Greater Sacramento Area, fall means a trip up Highway 50 to Apple Hill, a visit to a pumpkin patch, or navigating a corn maze. Those activities are enjoyable, but the fun doesn’t have to stop there. The Sierra Foothills offer many great destinations—along with the opportunity to admire some fall color on your drive. Here are four of my favorites.

Nevada City, located at the northern end of the Mother Lode on Highway 49, is rich with Gold Rush history. From mining displays to stately Victorians, there’s much to see. After exploring the historic sites, visitors can wander the steep streets of the quaint downtown area filled with a variety of interesting shops. If your exploration works up an appetite, there’s a feast of fine restaurant options available. Find out more about Nevada City here.

Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park


If you’re looking for a place to take a hike, consider visiting Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park. This oak-studded area, located on Highway 49 approximately 15 miles northwest of Placerville, boasts 12 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Some trails provide distant views of the South Fork of the American River while others take you down to the bank. The nearby Dave Moore Nature Area, a one-mile loop trail a short drive away, offers wheelchair accessibility down to the river.

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma, located on Highway 49 just eight miles from Placerville, is a must-see for those who enjoy California history. Over 20 buildings dating back to the Gold Rush Era have been preserved. In addition, you’ll see a replica of the famous sawmill where James Marshall found the shiny nuggets that started a worldwide migration of fortune seekers. The visitors center features a museum with informative displays and a gift shop with a nice selection of wares representative of the period.

Historic home in Volcano, CA

Volcano, located just off Highway 88 near Pine Grove, a lesser-known Gold Rush town, is a real gem. From historic buildings to fine food and friendly people, Volcano has it all. One of the most visited sights is Old Abe, a cannon that played a role in one of California’s few Civil War entanglements. My husband and I spent a most enjoyable day in this charming town.

Wherever your fall adventures take you, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Foothills. Enjoy!