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On this Lake Clementine Hike, a Wild River Canyon and Contrasting Dynamics take Center Stage!


You will encounter a tranquil Lake Clementine, a loud waterfall at a dam, soothing pools, and raging rapids at Auburn/Forresthill, California. Start near the confluence of the middle and north forks of the American River, follow the North Fork's rocky and deep canyon journey where it is interrupted by the serene Lake.

Lake Clementine
lake clementine

In 1939, this three and a half mile long lake was formed when the one hundred fifty five foot high dam was finished. To protect bridges downstream, the dam was built as a debris catching device. You may see horseback riders and mountain bikers and fishing is good. On area trails leashed dogs are allowed.

One Hundred Fifty Five Foot High Dam!
One Hundred Fifty Five Foot High Dam, lake clementine


American River Confluence to the Lake

On the far side of the curved Old Foresthill Bridge, which was built in 1955, the trail begins at the confluence area. River left, it parallels the North Fork American River upstream. On the opposite riverbank, at 0.25 mile, concrete abutments for what was known as the Steel Bridge, existed 1911 to 1955, may be seen. The trail goes under the Foresthill Bridge, at 0.5 mile.

Old Foresthill Bridge
Old Foresthill Bridge, lake clementine

Clarks Hole can be seen on the left, at 0.75 mile. Popular with locals for more than 100 years, it is a clear and deep rock lined swimming hole. Leading down to a sandy beach and the pool, on the left, a short side trail. Flowing over the North Fork Dam, the summer water temperature of the river below the lake is surprisingly warm since it is fed from sun warmed water from the surface of the lake. The Middle Fork American River is considerably colder and is fed from the bottom of Oxbow Reservoir, by contrast.

The Middle Fork American River From Confuence Trail
The Middle Fork American River From Confuence Trail, lake clementine

Visible on the opposite riverbank, at one mile, rock abutments of a wooden covered toll bridge, built in 1875 and used until 1911. Where three different bridges existed between 1852 and 1875, you can see evidence on the opposite riverbank of abutments, a short distance upriver, if you look carefully.

Continuing upriver, this part of the trail uses a largely shaded roadway that was once the old stagecoach route in the late 19th century connecting Auburn with the gold rush camps of Greenwood, Georgetown and Iowa Hill.

Auburn, California
Auburn, California, lake clementine

At Lake Clementine Road, Lake Clementine trail ends. For an exciting view of water cascading over the dam, follow this paved road to the left for about 0.25 mile and then take the unmarked side trail on the left towards the river.





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