Stagecoach/Mossy Rock Trail

said on November 2nd, 2010 filed under: Auburn, Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Running and Hiking trails

Stagecoach may be the oldest trail in the Auburn, California area—and the most accessible. 

Trail Head

You find the Stagecoach trail head on Russell Road, just off Lincoln Way, inside the Auburn city Limits.  From this trail you can connect to the Pioneer Express trail and scamper down hill about 40 miles to Folsom and Sacramento.  Or you can connect up hill to the Clementine and Foresthill Divide trail system and run a sweet little marathon-length loop.  Or you can say “what the hell” and run 100 miles overland to Lake Tahoe on the famous Western States trail.

But for a happy, hour-long, 7 miler you can hop on the loop I’m going to show you in these pictures.

First Choice Fork

Two minutes down the trail you come to a fork where a small trail branches off and up to the left.  This is the “upper” Stagecoach trail.  You will be coming back on the main branch to the right, the “lower” Stagecoach trail.

Let’s clear up one thing about this run.  Like most canyon runs, you either start at the bottom and work your way up.  Or you start at the top, roll downhill, and then climb back out.  Stagecoach is in the latter category, so save something for the uphill return.  You’ll need it.

Typical View

Along the first part of the downhill portion, you will get some nice views.


Do NOT take Flood Road Trail

You next choice will be at the intersection of Stagecoach and Flood Road trails.  Do NOT take Flood Road trail.  OK, take it.  But you won’t like it.  I’m telling you so right now.

Mossy Sign

Further along you will see Mossy Rock trail come in from the left.  DO take Mossy Rock trail.

Mossy Rock

Here is the actual Mossy Rock.  Wow.  Bet you’ve never seen anything like that.

Mossy Rock Creek main

At Mossy Rock Creek your Pooch can get a drink and cool off.  You can hear the creek before you get to it.  Sweet.

Eventually you will come to the north base of the magnificent Foresthill Bridge.  I have blogged about the Foresthill Bridge before in my Clementine Trail article, so you can check it out later.  Poke around and you will find the trail that leads back under the bridge, heading upstream along the east bank of the American River (North Fork).

Bridge Pylon

North Pylon of the Foresthill Bridge

Here is a view of the bridge from the base of the pylon.  It’s 6oo feet straight up!  That’s a four lane highway up there! 

Bridge from Eerie

Unusual view of the Foresthill bridge from Eerie trail

Pass under the bridge and you can add another mile or so on an out-an-back spur I call the Eerie Trail.  Why?  It just has a weird feeling.  I have never seen as much as a footprint out there. Lonely, silent, dark, damp, brambles. 

Eerie Trail

The Eerie Trail

Eerie trail is also rough.  Be sure to wear your Big Boy or Big Girl shoes before you venture out on Eerie trail.

Confluence swimming

The Confluence along the beach of the North Fork

If you make it back alive, you will take a steep hill down hill all the way to the Confluence of the North and Middle Forks of the American River.  If it’s hot, there are several good swimming holes.


The New Outhouse!

Hey, look what they are making just for you and all your evacuatory necessities!  That is one slick outhouse.

Remember when I said you were going to have to work your way back up out of the canyon?  It’s time to pay for all that downhill fun.  The first uphill section is the steepest. I’ve run it so many times, I barely notice it, but on your inaugural ascent, I guarantee that it will get your attention.

After you conquer this first uphill sonofabitch, you will come to, guess what, more uphills.  In fact, it’s uphill all the way to the end.  The climb out of the canyon is not especially grueling, it’s just relentless. There are some pretty views on the way out.

Confluence Map

Looking back the way you came, you can see the Confluence.  (A) the Confluence (B) Middle Fork (C) North Fork (D) Highway 49 toward Cool, Placerville and points south (E) Old Foresthill Road (F) Stagecoach Trail (G) Highway 49 toward Auburn, Grass valley and points north.

No hands bridge

Looking ahead, you can see the historic “No Hands Bridge” and highway 49 as it heads north to Auburn.  (A) North/Middle Fork of the American River (B) No hands Bridge (C) Highway 49 heading north toward Auburn.

That’s a good run!  One note of caution.  I have been warned to keep the car locked and valuables out of sight at the trail head parking lot.  Just passing it along.

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