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4.4 miles round-trip
Directions: Take I-80 east to Auburn. Exit on Elm Ave. and go left at the light. Head left on High St. and follow it to Hwy 49. After it becomes Old Foresthill Rd., continue until you cross the curved Old Foresthill Bridge.
The small parking area is on your right. The trailhead is toward the bridge, on the opposite side of the road, with a gate marked Trail 139.
Think of Lake Clementine Trail as the SportsCenter of hikes, a highlight reel of touchdown dances both natural and man-made, offering instant gratification for the entry-level country ambler as they trek among the pines, valley oaks and big-leaf maples. This rolling sojourn begins near the confluence of the north and middle forks of the American River. The first payoff comes a half mile down the river-view path, when hikers pass under the towering Foresthill Bridge, which skyrockets 730 feet, making it the highest bridge in California and third highest in the U.S. (and a star in movies like the Vin Diesel action flick xXx, and the Katherine Heigl rom-com The Ugly Truth). The hawks that cruise beneath the 2,248-foot span amplify the bridge’s sensory-overloading height. When you reach the paved Lake Clementine Road, head a quarter mile down and take the short spur on your left. Your reward: an unbroken view of the 718-foot North Fork Dam on Lake Clementine, with drapes of thundering whitewash misting incandescent sunbursts on cloudless autumn days. parks.ca.gov —T.S.