All Photos by Ellen Baker

Winter disappeared with haste. Awakening to the spring birds chirping, I gazed out my bedroom window on Saturday morning to see the blue sky sharing its space with only a few wispy white clouds. I pressed the back of my hand to the window as I do to check the outside temperature and it felt warm. Last week it hailed and looked like a Chicago Christmas in our backyard for three days, and now this? I had planned for cold weather activities such as cleaning the house, drinking hot chocolate and schnapps in my pajamas, and finishing my book curled up by the fire, but once I pressed my hand to the window, excitement rushed through me and it was time to strategize a new plan.

I find this happens to me often: waking up to a beautiful day only to feel like I am obliged to take advantage of it, as if I’ll ruin the day if I don’t do something active, something adventurous. There is a healthy medium to be found of taking the time to do nothing—to enjoy the warmth of the air, the sounds of the animals and the satisfaction of just sitting, but that healthy medium seems to be skewed in many of us, and most times I want to go “seize the day.” For these days in particular, I head to Auburn: a 35-minute drive from Sacramento with a variety of options for all sorts of escapades.


Auburn is filled with hiking trails; it is also a great place for pups, but check the leash laws for the specific route before letting Fido off leash. It’s looked down upon (and against the law in some areas, understandably), and I have received many a comment for my free-range dog. Here a few of my favorites, in no specific order.

Hidden Falls Regional Park:
Almost everyone knows this one so crowds are a no-brainer, but it is good for various physical abilities.

Stevens Trail:
Technically Colfax, just around 17 miles northeast of Auburn, but it’s beautiful in the springtime. Watch out for flooding!

American River Confluence: This is where the two rivers meet and where the majority of the parking is. Here, you can pretty much pick any direction and choose your own adventure.

Bennett Dahl riding Culvert Trail

Mountain Biking

While being serenaded by the hubs on a downhill ride, I thank the Bike Gods for creating hydraulic brakes. I enjoy descending quickly, but the comfort of knowing my bicycle’s brakes work the same as my motorcycle’s brakes brings me ease. Two good options for a moderate ride are Clementine Trail and Culvert Trail, but Auburn offers many more trails for riding if you want something a bit more difficult or an easy jaunt along the river. If you decide to take the pup with you on these rides, be wary—check leash laws and opt for a solo ride or a hike if your dog does not do well off leash. Opting for a bike ride opens more doors for getting lost; many riders willingly give advice along the trail, but if worse comes to worse, get yourself to a main road and someone with a truck will put you, your bike and your pup in the back and take you to town (this has happened to me before. People are rad).

Cronan Ranch Trail

Trail Running

Treadmills and city runs on cemented streets can be beneficial, but anytime I can escape that torture, I will. My most recent investments due to an unplanned stop into REI were trail running shoes and a fanny pack that hugs in all the right places to carry some water and a phone. Any hiking trail can be used as a running trail, but to avoid crowds a few of my favorites include: Cronan Ranch (technically in Pilot Hill, California), Training Hill (the name says it all) and Salmon Falls (this one is also a great bike ride).

If you’re injured, simply don’t feel like being active, or physically cannot be active, Auburn is home to many a brewery as well as some really good food. Check out:

Crooked Lane 536 Grass Valley Hwy., Auburn

Auburn Alehouse 289 Washington St., Auburn

Brookside Grill 111 Sacramento St. # R, Auburn

**This piece first appeared in print on page 13 of issue #264 (April 23 – May 7, 2018)**

    Ellen Baker

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    Rock scrambling, exploring and taking photos along the way.