Photo © Jay Shuttleworth
The Department of the Interior listed the Stevens Trail on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
The Stevens Trail was a toll footpath between Colfax and Iowa Hill from 1871 until about 1906. Surviving all those years, today it remains as an outstanding example of a gold-era foot route. Stevens Trail is a unique representative of "gentle trail engineering." Unlike nearly all historic trails in the North Fork American River canyon, it uses no switchbacks to reach the American River -- from either the Iowa Hill or Colfax trail heads. Even the well-known portion of the Western States Trail from Last Chance to Michigan Bluff (also on the National Register of Historic Places) relies exclusively on switch-backs to negotiate elevation gains or losses.
The trail today represents a fantastic opportunity to view the canyon in its nearly undeveloped splendor.
Hikers can access the trail head in Iowa Hill (via the Iowa Hill Road, at the Iowa Hill store) or in Colfax, at the northern end of Canyon Way Road.
Hiking along the Stevens Trail is the easiest way to access the lower portion of Wild and Scenic-designated North Fork of the American River.
Vertical Gain or Loss: Approximately 1,200 feet down to river from either trail head.
Trail Distance: 7.1 miles Colfax to Iowa Hill, one way.
The trail is not wheelchair accessible.
Pets must be on leashes.