Travel Gold Country
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Explore hidden gems along historic Highway 49
By Peggy Spear

Why not hold your wedding deep in a Gold Rush mine? Or maybe conduct your next business meeting on steam train wrapping through the Sierras? Or step into an 1855-style provisionary store and find some of the best local wines and gourmet foods you can find even in the Bay Area?

These are just some of the hidden gems travelers can uncover as they traverse Highway 49 in the Gold Country. While there are plenty of popular activities that dot the scenic landscape, there are also some out-of-the way places that deserve a good look. And some aren’t even out of the way, such as the Columbia Mercantile 1855, which is located on the corner of the popular square in the Gold Rushera town of Columbia.

Here is a quick tour through some of the hidden gems that if you’re not careful, won’t stay hidden for long.


In Placer County, hikers and photographers should make sure to go to Hidden Falls. With more than 30 miles of trails, oak trees, panoramic views of the Sacramento Valley and a stunning waterfall, this park is perfect for adventurous day trippers heading up from Sacramento or the Bay Area. Families will also enjoy spending the day here. What’s even better is you can bring your dogs and horses to enjoy the trails as much as you do.

If you enjoy water sports and are tired of the traffic on Lake Tahoe, Folsom Lake or Lake Berryessa, check out Rollins Lake, a calm lake that caters to families (along with its adjacent campground). There are about 30 miles of shoreline with calm waters and as the website attests, “Much less water traffic.”

At Rollins Lake Rentals, they rent high quality ski boats, wakeboard