Hike to the North Fork Dam of Lake Clementine

Lake Clementine Trailhead

Walk under a 730ft bridge spanning +800ft on the N. Fork American River. See a stunning waterfall and swimming holes.

Located only roughly 40 minutes from Sacramento. This trail will allow you to view and walk under the 5th largest bridge in the US as well as enjoy the waterfall spectacle of a top releasing Dam. Once reaching Old Foresthill Road from the town of Auburn, drive over the smaller bridge spanning the width of the North Fork American River. Park on the right hand side, near the Restroom and Day Use parking area. This is a State Park area so be sure to bring $10 for the Day Use Fee.

Walk down the road to the gate with a sign stating Lake Clementine Trail. Stay on this wide trail that follows the North Fork waters. You will stay on this trail until reaching the Dam. After only a few minutes from the trailhead, you will be walking under the sky-scrapingly tall Foresthill Bridge. In the heat of summer, the cool river water will be a great remedy. There are numerous swimming holes located along the trail. Be cautious of flows and dangers underwater and downstream.

Roughly a mile later after walking under the bridge, you will pass yet another gate for which vehicles may drive down for the boat ramp to Lake Clementine. Continue down now towards the sound of the cascading falls. Pretty soon a waterfall and calm lake will be in view. Once arriving at the Dam site be cautious. The mist from the waterfall causes the rocks to be extremely slippery. Set up a picnic blanket and enjoy the falls or continue hiking to check out the lake.

It is important to note that it is never advisable to play in and near Dam Sites. Swimming in a river has its dangers. Be aware current strength and both underwater and downstream dangers. Dogs are not allowed on the trail.

Many choose to mountain bike this trail, as well.

The North Fork Dam was constructed in 1939 to prevent gold mining debris continuing downstream. Many Dams are no longer purposeful. It is important to be aware of the environmental impacts that Dams have on watersheds and the local flora and fauna.

Pack List

  • Water
  • $10 Day Use Parking Fee
  • Backpack
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Picnic Blanket
  • Swim Trunks
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RT Distance 4 Miles
Activities Photography, Mountain Biking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Waterfall
Swimming Hole

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

My First Real Hike

This was my first time doing a real hike in a real location. I've never been here, and although I've done hiking, this place is checked off my bucket list as far as real hiking is concerned. It was worth the trip/experience. I am wet, muddy and cold which means I've accomplished a good hike. I'll definitely have to come back during the summertime next year.

Awesome Hike

Super easy hike if you're into pretty views and a easy walk! Just went here today and it was a blast! We walked all the way to the dam, turned around and walked back. We had lunch right on the river then swam under the bridge. We thought the walk to the dam would take us to the lake but it cuts off and you have to go back up and around, and there isn't a beach area for people to use for the lake. But we had a blast! Highly recommended!


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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