New trail will only enhance Auburn’s outdoors appeal

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As the Endurance Capital of the World, the city has adopted the motto, All trails lead to Auburn. Now, with construction set to start on the new North Fork Trail, Auburn can plot yet another path that winds up in our fair city. The 14-mile North Fork Trail will show off the beauty of a meandering stretch from Weimar to Auburn along the North Fork of the American River. In the works since 2002, this project reinforces our area's reputation as the Endurance Capital of the World and only serves to lure more tourists looking for a new trail to navigate. We saw it with this past weekend's good weather and subsequent influx of running shoes, hiking boots, bike tires and horse hoofs on existing trails. Auburn has become a Mecca for outdoor recreation fans from near and far enticed by our network of paths. We're getting to that point where we're more user friendly with the (trail) signs, said Brad Kearns, an Auburn outdoor enthusiast, former triathlete and producer of the Auburn International Triathlon. When I first came here, I was an explorer with a map, there was not as much support in town. In the old days, if I saw a bike on the road, I knew who it was. Now, it's like, ˜Who are these guys?' The new trail will give adventure seekers even more to explore, opening up our wilderness to breathtaking views of Lake Clementine, the canyon and the river that many have never seen. Yet another trail will not only provide a new backdrop for runners and cyclists, but also offer another outlet so our trails don't start to resemble our crowded highways. Our reputation also draws more people into our area, bringing their pocketbooks. With the densely populated San Francisco and Sacramento areas within daytrip distance from Auburn, out-of-towners have been known to spend a day or two here. A group of friends hiking might work up an appetite and pop by Smoothie King to refuel. Maybe a cyclist needs a new chain and hits up Auburn Bike Works for the part. Kearns said he believes Auburn has carved a niche out for the all-mighty tourist dollar with our Endurance Capital status, derived from world-class events such as the Western States Endurance Run, Western States 100-mile Tevis Cup, Coolest 24 Bike Race and more. There's nothing like this in the world. Some of our climbs rival the Tour de France, Kearns said. We've worked hard to distinguish ourselves. Our geography here is one of a kind. With the Gold Rush scene and the challenges outdoors, we're getting cooler and cooler. The North Fork Trail and new stretch of the American River that will soon be open for all to enjoy are adding to our cool factor. The $2 million price tag for the new trail sounds steep, but most of it is funded by state money set aside for trail conservation, with $500,000 kicked in from the Placer County general fund. And while some residents bemoan the many housing and business developments coming to town (you may have heard of plans for a Home Depot off Highway 49 or the Auburn Bluffs subdivision off Auburn Folsom Road), the North Fork Trail reminds us of what we're proud to have in our backyard ” the American River Canyon.