Placer County’s “gem of the foothills,” Hidden Falls Regional Park, is the recipient of a grant that will fund innovative projects protecting long-term ecological values and economic viability of working ranches and agricultural lands, and also the health of associated watersheds.
Use of the grant was approved by the Board of Supervisors, who authorized a budget revision to create a capital improvement project, using a $325,000 grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, in addition to $82,500 in county in-kind services.
The work will rehabilitate the existing stock pond and irrigation canal, abandon steep and unstable ranch roads, construct three animal watering troughs, and replace portions of existing perimeter fencing at the park. Each of these park improvements supports the long-term management goals of the regional park, including continued grazing for vegetation management, which is consistent with goals of the Placer Legacy Open Space and Agricultural Preservation Program.
“We are lucky to have this regional park as part of the open space in Placer County,” said Supervisor Robert M. Weygandt, whose 2nd District includes the park. “The preservation of these foothills lands with their unique oak habitat is something that current and future generations will enjoy. This grant will help improve the park and the experiences residents and visitors have when they visit.”
Hidden Falls, located in rolling oak woodlands between Auburn and Lincoln, was first dedicated as a 221-acre regional park by the county in 2007. Since then, the park has expanded to its current 1,200 acres, which includes some 30 miles of natural surface trails suitable for hiking, running, biking and horseback riding. The trails provide access to scenic views of the riparian habitat along the two creeks that run through the property. There are interpretive panels mounted along the trails, picnic areas, and fishing access trails.
The development of Hidden Falls was made possible by the Placer Legacy Open Space Program. Placer Legacy is a voluntary program formed to conserve open space, help preserve the local farm economy, protect native plants and wildlife, and provide more passive recreation opportunities to the public. Major support is being provided by a combination of funding partners and volunteers. Supporters include the California Natural Resources Agency, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Conservation Corps, REI, Inc., Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition, Sun City Lincoln Hills Hiking Club, and California State Parks.
When first opened the seven-year old park initially had an observation deck allowing close-up views of the 30-foot waterfall that gives the park its name, multiple-use trails, picnic areas, and fishing access. Expansion has added sweeping views of the Sacramento Valley to the Sutter Buttes and beyond. Two bridge crossings were installed that connect trail users to both sides of the Coon Creek watershed. Additionally, there are more picnic areas and a second observation deck above another waterfall.