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Western States Pioneer Express Trail

Located In: Auburn.

Distance: 8.7 miles out and back.

Difficulty Level: Moderate.

Photo by Michelle Tibbits @tibbitzzz.


Know Before You Go: There are many trail crossings along the course, so downloading the route beforehand is recommended. Bring plenty of water (or a water purifier) and wear layers and shoes with traction. As always, practice leave no trace principles to keep our region’s trails pristine.

Why We Love It: If you’re into serene river views, waterfalls, wildflowers, and rolling elevation with a bit of history, this trek through the Middle Fork of the American River was made for you.

Fuel Up: Fans of craft coffee, local brews, low-alcohol cocktails, vino, or really anything “craft” will love The Pour Choice ( Serving salads, sandwiches, and other high-quality small bites in stylish environs, this staple of the Auburn community brings trail runners, professionals, and friends alike into Old Town’s long-abandoned Auburn Drug Co. building.

The Pour Choice photos by David Thuman Photography.


A Glimpse into Auburn’s History

Like so much of the history in our area, Auburn’s modern history is intrinsically tied to the discovery of gold in Coloma. In 1848, French miners settled in the Auburn area, originally inhabited by the Nisenan people. The area eventually became a settled camp for miners and later the seat of Placer County.

But gold wasn’t the only resource people sought in the area. By 1910, the Auburn quarry was in full swing providing limestone for cement production. The Western States Pioneer Express Trail takes hikers by the Mountain Quarries Railroad Bridge where the old railroad trafficked limestone from the quarry. At the time, the bridge was the longest concrete arch railroad bridge in the world.  

It's fun to cross these places and envision life for the indigenous people living in such a flourishing environment, or the adventurous life of a miner who traveled far in search of riches, all while seeing what has been built and abandoned over the course of centuries.

by Ryan Martinez

Photos 1 & 5 courtesy of Visit Placer; taken by Erik Bergen. Photos 2, 3, 4, 6, & 7 by Michelle Tibbits @tibbitzzz. The Pour Choice photos by David Thuman Photography.