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Expanded Hidden Falls Regional Park now open

Ceremony Wednesday opens more than 23 miles of new trails
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Hidden Falls Regional Park just became bigger and better.

The expanded park was on full display Wednesday for a select group of about 100 guests of Placer County. The public is invited in Thursday, May 23 for a first-time ramble and a look at 23 miles of additional trails.

The seven-year-old Hidden Falls park has been expanded from its original 221 acres at 7587 Mears Place in the foothills between Auburn and Lincoln to 1,200 acres.

The expansion offers new sweeping views of the Sacramento Valley to the Sutter Buttes and beyond, bridge crossings, picnic areas and waterfall access.

Wednesday’s grand opening took place at one of the newly installed bridges at a canyon crossing over Coon Creek.

Placer County Supervisor Robert Weygandt told audience members that the board bought the larger Spears ranch property before purchasing the 221-acre parcel the park was originally opened on. Since then, the county has cobbled together public and private funding to pay for $1.8 million in bridge and culvert work, as well as about $250,000 to build trails.

“What a great celebration,” Weygandt said. “It’s been neat to be on the board since the beginning of all this. It was an opportunity so great and the board was so committed, not knowing how the rest of it would work.”

Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, whose 5th District joins Weygandt’s Lincoln-area district in sharing the parkland’s footprint, said that the expansion illustrates that while Placer County is known for being fiscally conservative, it has taken a progressive approach to preserving outdoor resources.

“This is really the jewel in the crown of our parks but we have a pretty great crown with a lot of jewels in it,” Montgomery said.

People taking in Wednesday’s ribbon cutting included curious neighbor Mark Roberts, who expressed mixed feelings about the expansion.

“I think it’s beautiful,” Roberts said. “But as a neighbor I’m kind of worried about how many people will be coming here now. I do understand what it is - an important asset to the county and they’ve done a nice job.”

Smokey Bassett of Rocklin also described the setting for the expansion as beautiful.

“As an old Boy Scout leader, just getting out into our backyard is wonderful,” Bassett said.

Zachi Anderson of the Forest Trails Alliance, which helped develop some of the toughest stretches of trails, described the system of pathways as a beautiful matrix of trails for the area.

“It’s an exciting development in terms of recreational opportunities for the community of Auburn and surrounding area,” Anderson said.

On view at the ceremony was a new feature - an observation deck above Coon Creek accessible by one of two new bridges. Already built during the first phase was an observation deck allowing close-up views of the 30-foot waterfall that gives the park its name.

The park is open from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year at no charge to visitors. Location and trail maps are available online at placer.ca.gov/departments/facility/parks/hiddenfalls.

Hidden Falls was developed with support from the California Natural Resources Agency and two of the agency’s department: Parks and Recreation and the California Conservation Corps. Other key supporters have included the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, REI Inc., the Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition and Sun City Lincoln Hills Hiking Club.