Spring has arrived in Placer County, an expansive and diverse 1,400-square-mile destination along Interstate 80 in Northern California. The county has been anticipating a safe return to tourism throughout the region and welcomes regional travelers in accordance with the California Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In an effort to promote responsible and safe travel amidst pandemic restrictions, outdoor and leisure activities are a focus.
Springtime in Placer County means plentiful freshly-grown produce, especially stone fruit, which is abundant in the region; acres upon acres of wildflowers in bloom; and a myriad of unique spring activities, from wine walks to rock climbing treks. There is something for everyone in the region to enjoy during spring, so bring your close family, venture with your significant other, or come alone – no matter how you travel, you are bound to appreciate the beauties of the season.
Please see below for examples on how you can safely and responsibly enjoy the county this season. Click here for springtime photos.
Never-Ending Local Produce and Eateries
For Placer County – what was once known as the “Fruit Basket of America” – spring begins at the start of mouth-watering stone fruit season. Warm spring days and cool rainy nights make for an ideal climate for many agricultural crops to grow. As such, the springtime stone fruit bounty means an abundance of farmers’ markets full of locally-grown goods. These include the well-loved PlacerGROWN Farmers’ Markets, bridging consumers with local farmers to offer the finest fruits, vegetables and meats in the area. The Old Town Auburn and Roseville Fountains markets are open year-round, and other locales such as the Granite Bay Quarry Ponds Town Center and Tahoe City feature local producers during the summer and fall months.
Over in Newcastle, Twin Peaks Orchards is one of the largest and most iconic growers in the county and supplies many of the area’s restaurants with ripe, tree-picked fruit. With a century-old history in Placer County, the farm has become one of the most beloved orchards in the area and is leading the way in today’s agricultural renaissance, including the local Farm to Fork movement. Over four generations of farming bring the region some of the freshest seasonal produce and sweet spreads that excite the palettes of visitors and locals alike, including certified organic fruit, raw honey, hand-made jams and a weekend seasonal farmstand at the orchard.
Local produce abound in Placer County’s restaurants, so no matter your dietary preferences, you are virtually guaranteed a fresh meal that will delight your taste buds. In Auburn, Restaurant Josephine offers seasonal French cuisine crafted with locally-grown fruits and vegetables, taking inspiration from the head chef and owner’s Eastern European heritage. For those in search of a more casual eatery, The Baker and the Cakemaker is dedicated to using artisanal bread, fresh produce and top quality seeds in their savory and sweet sandwich and cake offerings. Travelers can engross themselves in an immersive farm experience at The Flower Farm Café in Loomis, which grows crisp produce in their on-site gardens for guests to appreciate while sitting under the shaded willow trees and taking in the sights and sounds of the farm. Opportunities to overlook astonishing outdoor beauty while enjoying fresh goods continue at Hawks Restaurant in Granite Bay, where guests can partake in an elegant local dining experience near the peaceful Granite Bay Quarry Ponds.
Vibrant Blooms Amidst Awe-Striking Hikes
Hundreds of acres of wildflowers bloom brightly in Placer County every spring. Travelers visit from far and wide to flock to the county’s myriad hiking trails to view captivating flora, as hiking is the best way to encounter the gorgeous flowers up close and personal.
Hikers can roam the multitude of trails that sit alongside the American River Canyon near Colfax, which are ideal for bloom-seeking. Stevens Trail offers breathtaking views of waterfalls and wildflowers, which are sure to catch the gaze of travelers with their vibrant colors, from peaches and oranges and deep blues and reds. This remote trail, which is one of the most popular hiking and biking trails in the entire county, extends over 4 miles worth of wildflowers and ends at the rushing North Fork of the American River. If in desire of a challenge, The Windy Point Trail weaves through hills covered in blue, yellow, purple and gold flowers that stand out amidst the blue skies. Known for its access to the stunning California Poppies, which is the official state flower of California, this 2-mile trail boasts over 100 species of wildflowers and low crowds for optimal, socially-distanced enjoyment.
For those looking for a gentle family-friendly outing in the fresh air, head to the Canyon View Preserve in Auburn, managed by Placer Land Trust. This 1.5 mile loop offers beautiful views from the rim of the American River Canyon and an impressive collection of wildflowers in the spring. Interpretive signs feature highlights along the way, and benches and picnic tables make for a great picnic. Hidden Falls Regional Park, located in the beautiful oak woodlands near Auburn, offers 30 miles of multiple-use trails for hiking, running, biking and equestrian riding with two observation decks to view the waterfalls. Advance parking reservations are required on weekends and holidays, so plan ahead during peak times.
An Out-of-the-Box Adventurist’s Paradise
In Placer County, no adventure is off limits. Whether you prefer traversing through enchanting local wine and beer experiences or a more extreme level of sport, the county welcomes adventurists of any interest to enjoy what the region has to offer.
For people looking for authentic imbibing experiences, look no further than to Placer County. The county has what may be the most vibrant and “local” county road in the country, known as the Wise Road in Lincoln. Wise Road is the spine of the Placer Wine and Ale Trail – indisputably the most robust trail of its kind in Northern California. Here, visitors will taste some of the region’s finest wines and sample amazing ales at family-owned farm breweries, all while enjoying amazing vistas and incredible landscapes along Wise Road. Keep venturing along the Placer Wine and Ale Trail – visitors can pick a wine or beer experience, or both! – and taste craft drinks from up to 20 refreshing hyper-local wineries, 12 award-winning breweries, and dozens of tap rooms and wine bars.
Extreme sports are an attractive draw to many adventure travelers, and Placer County is the ideal location to partake in such intense sporting pursuits. The county is home to some of the most diverse and accessible rock-climbing terrain in the entire state. Seasoned climbers flock to Donner Summit, which features all three major climbing disciplines (trad, sport and bouldering) with routes for all experience levels. With easy freeway access and Lake Tahoe (another climbing mecca) a short drive away, Donner Summit and its breathtaking vistas and mountain scenery is the ultimate destination spot for entry-level climbing families or seasoned veterans. Quarry Park Adventures in Rocklin, located within a 160-year-old former rock quarry, offers exhilarating adventure from zip line to climbing walls, adventure course, a via ferrata and more. This family-friendly park offers an introduction to rock climbing and other adventures for all ages.
Water sports enthusiasts can upgrade their favorite river and lake activities by taking them to Placer County’s rapid whitewaters. Three forks of the American River offer diverse white water rafting for various experience levels and a variety of river terrain, from the South Fork to the more advanced North Fork of the American River, offering exhilarating challenges for the mild to the extreme rafter. Many rafting outfitters in the region, such as All Outdoors Whitewater Rafting and Whitewater Excitement, can guide you through a half-day mild float to a multi-day extreme river adventure.
More About Placer County and Safety Precautions
Uniquely situated along Interstate 80, Placer County attractions are only 20 minutes away from the major freeway at any point, making it an ideal destination for travelers from the Bay Area, Sacramento, Reno, Lake Tahoe and other nearby regions. Placer County encompasses a wide variety of unique cities, towns and census-designated places in northern California, including:
Visit Placer, the destination marketing arm of Placer County, urges all visitors to observe the following safety protocols:
Wear face coverings in public spaces at all times.
Maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet from other individuals.
Wash and sanitize your hands frequently.
An interactive map on the website has been provided to learn more about enjoying “Life at its Peak.” Please remember to travel responsibly at all times and avoid traveling and congregating in large groups. To learn more on how to venture through Placer County safely, visit visitplacer.com/travel-responsibly.
Visit Placer is the destination marketing agency that promotes, markets and provides resources for domestic and international leisure travel to Placer County, a 1,400-square-mile destination along the I-80 corridor in Northern California. Described as a “continent within a county,” the county encompasses a widely diverse geography, boasting unique locales from high-mountain ski town Olympic Valley, sitting alongside Lake Tahoe, to the lush and forested community of Foresthill. Visit Placer invites travelers to visit, discover and savor the county responsibly. For more information on Placer County, log onto the Visit Placer website at visitplacer.com.