Exploring Hidden Falls Regional Park Hiking Trails: Sierra Foothill Beauty
Hidden Falls Regional Park near Auburn contains an extensive network of hiking trails that run near the year-round streams Coon Creek and Deadman Creek, and also along steep hillsides dotted with oaks and pines and open hillsides filled with spring wildflowers.
This not-so-hidden gem in the Sierra foothills of Placer County is very popular with locals — hikers, bikers, and equestrians alike. Do this hike and you’ll see why. I’ve picked a route that showcases much of the best of Hidden Falls Regional Park, but know that there are many more miles of trails for you to explore.
This post is based on Hike 13 of my book Urban Trails Sacramento, which contains 35 hikes within an hour drive of Sacramento, including many in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Hidden Falls Regional Park Trail Hike Key Data
Distance: 4.2 miles roundtrip
Type: Day hike
Elevation gain: 600 feet
High point: 995 feet
Season: year-round; can be very hot in summer — hike early to beat the heat
Contact: Placer County Parks and Trails, 530-886-4901
Maps: Download the excellent full-color Hidden Falls Regional Park map here; it’s also usually available in print form at the trailhead
Permits: You need a parking permit on weekends and some other days; see below
Hidden Falls Regional Park Trailhead GPS coordinates: N 38 57.533 W 121 09.846
Notes: toilets at trailhead; dogs allowed on-leash; lots of trailside poison oak; pay close attention to driving directions: cell coverage is spotty; bring plenty of water, especially on hot days
Hidden Falls Regional Park Open Hours: open sunrise to a half-hour after sunset, but hours can vary a bit; look for a sign at the trailhead parking area
Hidden Falls Regional Park Trailhead Directions
Cell phone coverage can be spotty in this area, regardless of what carrier you have, so have these directions saved on your phone or print them out before you leave.
Drive about 30 miles from downtown Sacramento on I-80 and take the CA 193/Taylor Road exit (Exit 116). Immediately upon getting to the north side of I-80 take Ophir Road. After 0.3 mile on Ophir Road, turn left on Lozanos Road. After 1.0 mile on Lozanos Road, turn right on Bald Hill Road. Continue on Bald Hill Road for 2.5 miles and then turn left onto Mt. Vernon Road. After 3.7 miles on Mt. Vernon Road, turn right on Mears Drive. Continue 0.5 mile on Mears Drive and then turn right onto Mears Place. Go 0.2 mile on Mears Place and then turn right for the final 0.2 mile to the trailhead.
Trailhead GPS coordinates: N 38 57.533 W 121 09.846
Important: Parking Reservations for Hidden Falls Regional Park
Parking reservations (and a parking fee) are mandatory on all weekends and on some weekdays that are holidays or near holidays. You need to get your reservation online before you head to Hidden Falls Regional Park for your hiking adventure. Get all the details here.
Are Dogs Allowed at Hidden Falls Regional Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed in the park, but they must be on a leash at all times. There’s a lot of poison oak along the trails, so be aware that you dog will likely brush against it.
Are Mountain Bikes Allowed at Hidden Falls Regional Park?
Yes, mountain bikes are most definitely allowed here. In fact, Hidden Falls Regional Park is very popular with mountain bikers. Hikers, this means you need to pay attention, especially if you have kids or a dog with you; even though mountain bikers are supposed to yield to hikers, we all know that sometimes this doesn’t happen.
Starting Your Hike…
Head to the large signboard near the toilets to check out the poster-sized map and also to grab a smaller map to take with you.
Begin on South Legacy Way
Start a gentle descent on broad South Legacy Way past interior live oak, blue oak, and black oak, with open areas adorned in spring with lupine, California poppy, fairy lantern, vetch, brodiaea, and other Sierra Nevada foothill wildflowers. The Poppy Trail, your return route, runs just below to the right.
Walk Hidden Falls Access Trail Beside Deadman Creek
Leave South Legacy Way as you cross Deadman Creek on a bridge at 0.6 mile. Walk 150 feet on North Legacy Way to a junction at the crossing of the Blue Oak Loop Trail. Near the end of the hike you’ll return here by the right fork of the Blue Oak Loop Trail, but now you go left on the Blue Oak Loop Trail for 50 feet, and then go left again onto the Hidden Falls Access Trail.
Parallel Deadman Creek in the downhill direction under oaks and past blackberries with songbird sound for company. At 1.2 miles reach a junction with the Bobcat Trail. Go left to another fork at 1.3 miles, and then go left again for the brief walk to the Hidden Falls Overlook. On the way you’ll see a sign explaining the geology of gold formation, with a use trail behind it dropping down to a swimming hole on Coon Creek, the larger and more prominent stream in the park.
Continue briefly to the platform and the view of impressive Hidden Falls, the park namesake, crashing down 40 feet in multiple tiers. Most spectacular in winter and spring, the falls diminishes markedly in summer and fall. Below Hidden Falls, Deadman Creek quickly merges into Coon Creek.
Canyon View Bridge and Nearby
Return the way you came and hike along Coon Creek in the upstream direction to meet North Legacy Way and the Canyon View Bridge at 1.4 miles. Cross the bridge and take the short trail on the far side that climbs right to another viewing platform. Coon Creek courses below: you’ll spot a small waterfall and many smooth stretches of slow water. Also gaze at the nearby hillsides, with the curved trunks and twisted branches of gray pines along their ridges.
My Youtube Video of Coon Creek and Surroundings
Find dozens more short videos of beautiful hiking spots at my Northern California Hiking Trails Youtube channel. (Subscribe!)
Canyon View Trail to Seven Pools Vista Trail
Cross back over the Canyon View Bridge and immediately turn left on the Canyon View Trail. Head upstream to meet the Seven Pools Loop Trail at 1.7 miles. Go left and cross over the Pond Turtle Trail at 1.8 miles. (If you wish, you can drop down to the banks of Coon Creek on the Pond Turtle Trail.) Start a substantial climb at 2.2 miles. At 2.3 miles turn left on the Seven Pools Vista Trail and continue climbing.
Look for the Seven Pools Vista on the left at 2.5 miles, just as the path makes a sharp bend to the right. The drop-off is very steep, so watch kids and dogs carefully, and then look down on the seven beautiful pools of Coon Creek, each separated from the next by small cascades.
Blue Oak Loop Trail
The climbing stops at a three-way trail junction at 2.9 miles. Here the Seven Pools Vista Trail ends, the Turkey Ridge Trail goes left, and the Blue Oak Loop Trail goes to the right and straight. Follow the Blue Oak Loop Trail straight and downhill. The path is well-named; it travels through open blue oak woodlands, a great place to hear and see acorn woodpeckers.
Crossing Deadman Creek Again, and Back to the Trailhead
Reach the main junction from near the beginning of the hike at 3.5 miles, just 150 feet from the bridge across Deadman Creek. Go left on North Legacy Way to the previously encountered bridge across Deadman Creek. South Legacy Way rises up to the right back to the trailhead. You can take South Legacy Way or, better, go left on the Poppy Trail, which initially runs upstream near Deadman Creek before switch-backing up to parking lot at 4.2 miles.
Further Explorations of Hidden Falls Regional Park Hiking Trails
This hike description covers the best of the eastern part of the park, but there’s a whole network of paths on the north side of Coon Creek and west of the Canyon View Bridge. Use the park map to explore these other trails.
Your Take on the Hidden Falls Regional Park
Have you hiked here? What did you think?