South Placer County’s Most Spectacular Spring Hike?

Newcastle, Calif.-  On a Tuesday morning, with a balmy, sunny 70+ degrees in the forecast and a few hours of early morning work already completed, the outdoors beckoned. We decided to take the call.

Sometimes, choosing a hike is no easy decision. Should you opt for an easy stroll or a shin busting marathon? Should you go with the tried and true of a favorite trail or explore a new adventure? After a few minutes on Google Maps, we opted for a return trek to a South Placer County favorite, Avery’s Pond at Rattlesnake Bar in Newcastle. It’s proximity to Roseville would be the deciding factor on this day.

↬ Summer Fun Starts Here ↫

⤥ Summer Fun Starts Here ⤦

⤥ Summer Fun Starts Here ⤦

⤥ Summer Fun Starts Here ⤦

Rattlesnake Bar

Oak trees along the North Fork of the America River

Within a half  hour, we arrived at the gate of Rattlesnake Bar and paid the $12 parking fee. Gone are the days of free parking just outside the gate.

Almost immediately upon entering the park, we came upon a smiling woman on horseback. She offered up an alternate and very narrow deer trail route. We were skeptical, but her enthusiasm sold us. Off we went. (Main trail access is available at the bottom of the parking lot on the left. It’s a steeper climb here.)

Butterflies

The narrow trail quickly broke through dense forest onto a sunlit ridge where parts of the North Fork of the American River come into focus. We became hopeful. During spring blooms, the trails burst with wildflowers and it was impossible not to notice the abundance of  active, orange, black, and purple adorned butterflies who were seemingly quite happy to participate in a photo shoot. We thanked them, said goodbye and pressed on.

Destination: Avery’s Pond

Continuing north, the wooded trail gently rose higher to offer stunning views of the North Fork below. The opposing shoreline during spring is often heavily blanketed with vivid, purple wildflowers offering a stark contrast to the green covered hills. There is quite a bit for the senses to take in and time easily slips away on this trail each time you find yourself stopping to absorb a portion of it. Before long, you’ll arrive at the diminutive, yet character-filled Avery’s Pond which is adjacent and a stone’s throw from the river. The pond has a short loop trail that encircles it and offers a great opportunity to take a break, have a picnic or just kick back and enjoy the beauty.

Turtles Everywhere

4 turtles on a log

At first glance, Avery’s Pond appears placid and uneventful. Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that you’ve entered some sort of Turtle Nirvana. Despite being shy creatures, it quickly became impossible to count all the turtles. Some were floating and playing dead, while others with their tiny heads just above the waterline were effortlessly swimming at a turtle’s pace. You just might wish to bring your entire family along for the hike.

Cool Off and Quick Swim

After Turtle Nirvana, a short walk down to the river offers expansive views of the shoreline and a picture perfect end to an amazing hike. During warmer weather, it’s one of our favorite swimming holes. For now, it was time to retrace our steps and call it a day. (You can continue eastbound connecting into the Western States Trail all the way up to Tahoe!)

Hiking Recap

Avery’s Pond Trail is an easy, family-friendly hike just a short 15-30 minute ride by car from the Roseville and Rocklin area. Entering at Rattlesnake Bar in Newcastle, there is a $12 parking fee if you need to use the paved lot or boat launch.  Great water views, opportunity to enjoy wildlife, water access and plenty of wildflowers.  Bring plenty of water and a snack. Weekdays are best.

Rattlesnakes are common during warm months and mountain lions are at home here. Keep an eye out for fresh scat on top of rocks and boulders, it is a telltale sign of mountain lions nearby. Plan accordingly.

While it’s been over nearly two decades since we began hiking Avery’s Pond, the bucolic setting, colorful wildflowers, abundant butterflies, and opportunity to swim the North Fork has become an annual tradition. It remains a magical place. Welcome to the brighter side.

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