This is a park of deep gorges cut by the rushing waters of the North and Middle Forks of the American River, which converge below a bridge on Hwy 49, 4 miles south of Auburn. In early spring, when waters are high, this is immensely popular for white-water rafting, as the rivers are Class II to V runs. Late summer, calmer waters allow for sunning and swimming, especially around the confluence. Numerous trails are shared by hikers, mountain-bikers and horses.
One of the most popular is the Western States Trail, which connects Auburn State Recreation Area to Folsom Lake State Recreation Area and Folsom Lake. It’s the site of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run (www.wser.org), and the Tevis Cup (www.teviscup.org), an endurance race on horseback. The Quarry Trail takes a level path from Hwy 49, just south of the bridge, along the Middle Fork of the American. Several side trails reach the river.
For camping, there are basic sites on a sweeping bend of the Middle Fork at the blackberry-dotted Ford’s Bar that are accessible only by a 2-mile hike from Rucky-A-Chucky Rd, or a half-day raft. Required permits for these sites are available from the Auburn State Recreation Area Office for $25 to $35.