• Activities:

    Chillin, Fishing, Photography, Mountain Biking, Running, Swimming, Hiking, Diving, Fitness

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Swimming Hole

Beautiful Wildflowers. Fishing & Swimming. Very well maintained trail. 8 mile out-and-back hike. Elevation gain: 3376 ft.

Best known as one of the most popular hiking and biking trails to the North Fork American River, in part because of the easy access from Colfax. However, this is a remote trail, and hikers are advised to bring plenty of fluids as well as carry a whistle. The entire trail is primarily shaded, passing through oak, douglas fir, and large stands of manzanita. The wildflower displays are rarely matched elsewhere in the area, especially during April and May. Use caution as the trail is hot during the summer months and steep at times with narrow passages. The Stevens trail begins conveniently at a parking area on N. Canyon Way just north of Colfax. After a short walk, the trail intersects an unmarked firebreak road, turn right on the dirt road. Further along the trail meets yet again another firebreak road, veer to the right and look for a metal 'trail' sign a few steps further to the left. A trail sign will direct bikers to the right and hikers left. The trails will eventually rejoin after traversing the rocky outcropping that occurs. Further along the trail is a beautiful cascading waterfall, and shortly thereafter is perhaps the most distinctive landmark on the trail - an immense bed of shale cascading down the mountainside. You can also see the remains of a mine shaft, abandoned long ago. Right above the bed shale, is the Cape Horn section of the first Transcontinental railroad. The original railroad bed was cut into the steep canyon wall, by Chinese laborers suspended on ropes. After about a mile, look for a trail sign pointing to the left. From this point on, the trail enters the steep North Fork American River canyon and traverses the canyon up river. This part of the trail offers beautiful views of the river as well as the Iowa Hill Bridge. The trail will meet the river at Secret Ravine, and although the trail is fairly easy down to the river, take the opportunity to rest and cool off in the cold river before starting the more difficult trip back to the trail head.

Pack List

  • Plenty of water
  • Trekking poles
  • Swimsuit
  • Fishing pole
  • Gold pan kit
  • sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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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Wow, so this is a nice long trail with lots of shade and steep cliffs which I found myself clinging to a couple times, once you pass the cave there is a nice little stream you can dip your head to refresh , further on about a mile and a half there is a nice swimming stream (took me 1 hour to get here). I took my mountain bike but I think next time I'll just hike it. I'm just glad I came out of this one alive. P.s. Take lots of water.

7 months ago
7 months ago

Such a beautiful hike. Hot in the summer so start early. In early Spring 2017 after a wet winter the waterfall section you have to cross was impassable, haven't been out again since that last time.

9 months ago
9 months ago

This hike is absolutely beautiful! Went this morning (saturday of memorial day weekend) and was the first car in the lot (7:00am). My pup and I had the whole trail down to ourselves! The morning light with the hills and river is stunning. As others have mentioned, definitely bring plenty of water, especially if going mid-day (or bring a water filter since you'll be able to filter at the river). I was also pleasantly surprised how clean and free of litter this trail is given its popularity! Keep up the good LNT work everyone!!

9 months ago
9 months ago

Really pretty water streams along the way to the river. Good views and dog friendly!!

11 months ago
11 months ago

Not too tough but worth the views! It gets pretty exposed so can get really warm but your reward is getting into the clear, cool water of the river!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This hike is a winner and everyone that has joined me on this hike loves it! Super amazing in springtime with all the wild flowers but can be enjoyed at other seasons. I would highly suggest to do this hike not on a super hot day! Not a lot of shade

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

This is a great all-day adventure. The trail is fairly long, and the majority of the way back is uphill, so just be prepared for some burning leg muscles during the climb. There's an abandoned mine shaft that opens up right along the trail, and the BLM advises people not to enter the mine, as it is unstable and extremely unsafe. But it's not very deep, and we made it to the back wall without a problem. Bring food and proper shoes and hike up the rocks to the top of a beautiful waterfall to see a nice view of the valley!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

we had so much fun on this hike! Plenty to see and so many different wild flowers. Lots of waterfalls to stop and hangout by. It's a difficult hike back but worth it!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Great hike! Make sure you bring a towel to dry off with.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Xavier Salgado

It's not about seeing the obvious. It's about seeing the unseen!

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