I've always enjoyed history, especially of the local variety, but since I am currently taking a California history course, my interest has been kicked into overdrive. A few weekends ago after watching an episode of Ken Burn's The West, I decided the parents and I should explore Auburn and its Gold Rush roots (and dabble in some nature and craft beer...naturally).
On our way to the foothills on a Saturday morning, we were passing through Dixon when I realized we needed gas. I took the opportunity to go snap a photo of the locally renowned Milk Farm sign.
The Milk Farm was a roadside restaurant established in the 1920s off of I-80. My Dad used to stop there with his family on their way home from camping at Lake Tahoe. We would stop nearby for frozen fruit bars when I was a kid on our return from the mountains. Unfortunately the restaurant closed in 1986, was demolished in 2000, but the sign still stands.
An hour or so later we were passing through the Auburn State Recreation Area. There was already quite a number of cars parked along the highway, with people setting off to explore the numerous trails. We decided to go to the farthest location first, then work our way back.
My parents and I arrived at Cool Beerwerks not too long after opening, in the small town of Cool. There was one other patron, but more people in a wide range of demographics (including kids and dogs) started to trickle in. We were greeted by a very friendly gentleman behind the bar.Mom, Dad, and I decided to split a beer sampler and have a pre-lunch snack of Truffle Shuffle Fries (I forgot to ask if the name was an ode to The Goonies).
The fries were perfect: crispy, not greasy, and not overpowering truffle flavor. My favorite of the house beers was the American Pale IPA; slightly toasty and balanced flavor. Another highlight was the guest tap, Moa Imperial Stout from New Zealand, that is aged in old Pinot Noir barrels. Very dark in color, it's smooth and great for sipping.
Heading back down Highway 49 to Auburn SRA, we nabbed the last parking spot near the Lake Clementine Trail head. The fee is $10, cash or check, which you deposit in an envelope and drop box. (Side note: I am currently obsessed with iPhone photo app Hipstamatic's Tintype SnapPak when on old-timey adventures!)
I chose this trail because of it's easy difficulty level and it passes under the Foresthill Bridge; completed in 1973, it's tallest bridge in California (730 ft.), and fifth tallest in the U.S. The hillside was littered with wildflowers and Indra Swallowtail butterflies. They were moving so fast, it was hard to get a good photo!
The trail ends after 1.9 miles at Lake Clementine and the North Fork Dam, built in 1938 by the American Corps of Engineers. Mom's Plantar fasciitis started acting up, so instead of walking all the way to the dam, we drove along Old Foresthill Road to Lake Clementine Road and picnicked by the boat launch.