The Salmon Falls Trail, also called the Darlington Trail, is located along the South Fork of the American River in El Dorado County. In the summer and fall months the trail can be completed as a loop, but in the winter and spring only an out-and-back option is available. There are multiple starting points, and the trail is great for both hiking and mountain biking. Many people choose to start by the Salmon Falls Bridge and head inward on the trail toward the solitude of the great outdoors. Because Folsom Lake is a reservoir, this section of the American River gets wider as you follow it along the trail. When the water gets high in the winter and spring months, the river swells and completely covers the walking bridge that makes the trail loop option possible.
The South Fork of the American River made history back in 1848 when gold was discovered in its stream bed, fueling the Gold Rush of 1800s. Today the river is mainly used for recreational purposes, and as you stroll along the banks you will notice the area is rich with alder, oak and pine trees. Geese and other waterfowl are often seen cruising along the water, and on the backside of the trail you might come across a few cows that migrate over from a local farm. The area is also open to equestrian recreation, though the trail itself is not. On hot summer days it is common to see groups of people picnicking and swimming by the crossing bridge, and, near the trailhead, multiple rafters de-rigging floats that started up river at Chili’s Bar. There are multiple trail systems intertwined with the Salmon Falls and Darlington Trail, such as the Sweetwater Trail, making it easy to develop a hike or mountain bike ride that suites your fitness level and experience.