With Toots still rehabbing her leg, the Greenwood Creek access point to the river makes perfect sense this month. This is the shorter portion of the Magnolia Ranch trails, with just a leisurely walk down the South Fork American River. You can go as far as you like, or stop at any one of the many great river access spots.
To reach the Greenwood Creek parking area, on Highway 49 coming from Coloma, drive just 2.8 miles from the bridge crossing the South Fork American River and turn left. Coming from Auburn on Highway 49, continue 3.2 miles from Pilot Hill to the entrance on your right. Trailer and RV parking is not allowed at Greenwood Creek, and horses are not allowed along the river trail. (For horses, use the Magnolia Ranch parking area just 0.4 miles north). We did see a car broken into once on a visit, so be sure to leave no valuables on car seats in plain view.
This is a fun trail, great for watching kayakers maneuver the rocks and currents. You will share the river with bikers, gold miners, and picnickers (we even saw a man sunbathing in a thong once – yuck). There are many accessible beach areas, so if one area is occupied, you can just walk a little further to the next spot. Your dog will have a great time at the river, and you can enjoy skipping rocks or looking for gold nuggets. There is also a composting outhouse available midway.
Be aware that river levels fluctuate and within 15 minutes, a previously dry area can be under water. Never tie a dog up at the river and leave it unattended. This is a great trail for dogs and the entire family. If you are looking for a more difficult hike with greater changes in elevation, then park instead at Magnolia Ranch.