Hike The Historical Stevens Trail



8 miles

Elevation Gain

3376 ft

Route Type


Added by Xavier Salgado

Out-and-back hike along a well-maintained trail with beautiful wildflowers, fishing & swimming.

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.

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Know for

Mountain Biking
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Swimming Hole



Leave a Review

Beautiful trail! A great local spot

Beautiful little hike. Be aware of poison oak! The trail was scattered with new saplings of poison oak at dog/ knee level. If you stay on the trail your fine. But light pants and a leash for your dog might be a good idea if your susceptible to the greasy bush. The falls are amazing and worth seeing. Enjoy!

Challenging but Fun!

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.

­čął Contributor

almost 4 years ago

Go Early!

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!!

Great Hike!

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

Two Thumbs Up

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!

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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