AUBURN TO COOL TRAIL March 13, 2004
Seeking a better trail with some gain for conditioning, I motored past Auburn, CA, on CA 49, to the vicinity of the confluence of the North Fork and the Middle Fork of the American River. Developed trails, roadside parking, and primitive trailheads abound, with signed trails going in all directions.
I chose to park at the Old Limestone Quarry primitive lot, and began my hike at 11:30 a.m. A trail across Highway 49 leads to the famed Auburn to Cool trail, in parts known as the Wendell T. Robie Trail. I hoped for a steep trail, with plenty of gain. This trail is a trench, and seems to get quite muddy when wet. It is peppered with horse droppings. I was glad there had been a warm spell, and the churned up soil was now fairly firm or dry.
This trail is well signed, with various junctions. There aren't many views. At first, road noise is quite disturbing. The trail follows CA 49 at close length. I knew going to Cool offered the most gain, so took that way. At one junction, I chose the longer way, by 0.2 mile. Soon, I noticed many numbered runners began streaming by. I moved aside for them, yet not quite aware that a major foot race was ongoing. I soon found out a 50 Kilometer, "Way Too Cool," run was in progress. With nothing much I could do, except to keep the way clear, I wound up at the finish line in Cool, CA. Dozens of people were cheering on the competitors.
Seeking to make a big loop, I started westward down a paved side road, away from this event. After going about a mile, and asking other users about where this paved road headed, I turned around at 1:08 p.m., and then just hoped most of the foot race was over.
Back in Cool, I looked at some signs and a map, to find I pretty much had to go back the same way I'd come. No one bothered me as I passed even more runners, going the other way, me seeking to get back to my ascent trail. I took a side trail signed, "Olmstead Loop," to find it then went back the same way, too. A event assistant came along and led me shortly back to my Auburn-Cool Trail, advising a right turn at one point.
Recognizing familiar points, I was then free from causing any interference, and happily striding downhill. I looked forward to getting back down to the river. Passing the turnoff to my chosen parking lot, I continued down to the No Hands Bridge, to mark my route with a defined point for elevation. Shooting a few photos, I went back up the trail to my parking lot turnoff, and came back to my car by 3:10 p.m.
I'd hiked some 9 miles with perhaps 1,200' gain. No ticks, or much poison oak, enroute. Some flies. This trail might be O.K. on a cold winter morning, with the mud then frozen hard. Too many equestrians, otherwise, though. T-shirt weather all day. I shot about 80 images.
I had sought to get ASRA trail information on the Net, to find the maps there are deficient. It would be worth a few dollars to know the extent of the trails in this area, precisely, so then one would not have to come up here, and find out personally!
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