From Auburn to Cool to Coloma: About the Region
Welcome to the Sierra Foothill communities of Cool, Pilot Hill, Greenwood, Garden Valley, Georgetown and Kelsey, also known as the Georgetown Divide, and to Auburn and Coloma. You’ll find a rich heritage steeped in California Gold Rush history and a destination for many adventure seekers.
Auburn wears the banner of the Endurance Capital of the World, as it is the finish line for 2 world renowned events, the Tevis 100 mile horseback ride and the Western States 100 mile run, both single day events. The Tevis and Western States trails travel along the Old Pony Express Trail, Emigrant and mining trails, and through much of Auburn State Recreation Area. Auburn has also captivated golfers, fisherman and other outdoorsmen, as well as artists and small business owners. Like other Sierra Foothill communities, many are drawn by its close proximity to both downtown centers and to the spectacular natural beauty that extends from the local backdrop of the American River to nearby Lake Tahoe.
Just 6 miles away, you’ll enter the town of Cool, named after Aaron Cool, a circuit preacher. The General Store, dating back to 1885, still exists. Cool, with its rolling terrain, Hwy 49 frontage, and access to several hiking/riding trails, has a thriving horse population. Many inhabitants live within the development, Auburn Lake Trails. ALT, as it is known, began developing in the early 1970’s. Varied in many respects, all custom homes, both retired and younger homeowners, and from all walks of life. The common thread seems to be that the lifestyle and amenities attract people who are looking for a good blend of country and urban living.
Pilot Hill, also along Hwy 49, was named by the early explorer John C. Fremont, and is the site of the first Grange Hall in California, in 1880. Pilot Hill extends to Folsom Lake, which spans 18,000 acres and has 75 miles of shoreline. Folsom Lake offers fishing, camping, windsurfing, swimming, and 80 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding.
Greenwood, just “beyond Cool” (as the bumper sticker states), along Hwy 193, was established as a trading post in 1848, by John Greenwood. Not much is left of the “town site”, but Greenwood once housed one of the largest populations during the Gold Rush. Greenwood offers a strong sense of community and has attracted many of our top endurance athletes.
Garden Valley once supplied fresh vegetables to the miners during the Gold Rush. It continues this tradition at the local Farmer’s Market during the summer months. Garden Valley is also the home of Golden Sierra High School. And Garden Park offers a 2nd choice to “Divide residents” who want to live in a rural development.
Georgetown, at an elevation of roughly 2500′ and above, is located mostly in the pines. It is the gateway to Stumpy Meadows, French Meadows, Loon Lake and Desolation Wilderness, all great fishing destinations. As is true for other Divide communities, Georgetown was home to Maidu and Miwok Indians. Georgetown also offers a small, private airport and was the first in California to include a campground on its grounds. The Rock Creek multi-use trails offer a setting where horse and off-road-vehicles can coexist. And the town includes nearly every amenity one might need. Georgetown is also known for the annual jeep rides which begin down town and travel through the Desolation Wilderness, ending up at Lake Tahoe.
Kelsey leads you to Placerville. Just below Kelsey, you’ll find Chili Bar, named after miners from Chile, and widely known as a “put in” location for many rafting companies on the South Fork of the American River.
And Coloma is where our travels stop. The Coloma Valley is also where our history began with the start of the Gold Rush. Now, thousands of people come to camp, to kayak, and to whitewater raft along the famous rapids of the South Fork of the American River. It is also home to Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.
Again, welcome, and enjoy the adventure of exploring our area!