Directions: From Auburn, on Highway I-80, go Northeast 2 miles to Auburn-Foresthill Road. Turn East and go 18 miles to Foresthill. Continue on Foresthill-Soda Springs Road. Five trails provide access to the North Fork: 1) Green Valley Trail starts 3 miles from the dam at Sugar Pine Reservoir off Elliott Ranch Road. 2) Italian Bar Trail is 12 miles from Foresthill, turn left on Humbug Ridge Road and go 3 miles to Italian Bar trailhead. 3) Mumford Bar Trailhead is 13 miles from Foresthill on Foresthill Road 4) Beacroft Trailhead is 17 miles from Foresthill on Foresthill Road. and 5) Sailor Flat is another 5 miles further on Foresthill Road but the trailhead starts off a high clearance 4 WD road that goes 2 miles to the left. Most of these trails are 3-4 miles to the river and drop about 2000 feet. The American River Trail is along the North Fork and follows the south side of the river from Mumford Bar to Sailor Flat.
Access the upper reaches of the North Fork American from Soda Springs Road, a 4 wd dirt road that from I-80. A trailhead at The Cedars called Palisade Creek Trail will follow the North Fork to Palisade Creek and connect to Cascade lake near I-80.
The North Fork of the American is a State and National Wild and Scenic River. The river flows from Mountain Meadow Lake at 7,900 ft. and joins the Middle Fork American River near Auburn. Within the headwaters, three small streams join near The Cedars to form a significant flow. The river drops about 1500 feet as it enters Royal Gorge. Below the gorge is your best opportunity for access and fishing. There are three trails providing river access at Sailor's Flat, Beacroft, and Mumford Bar. The 8 miles long American River Trail links these trails along the river. The 37 miles stretch above the bridge at Iowa Hill Road near Colfax is in the California Wild Trout program, so that no fish are planted in this section. The bridge is also the only drive-in access to the North Fork Wild Trout section. The Wild Trout section ends at the confluence of Palisade Creek. Below Iowa Hill Bridge, the river tends to get too warm for trout and becomes a smallmouth bass fishery.
The river consists of deep pools, as well as cascading waterfalls, with riffles, runs, and pocket water. Steep canyon slopes frame a narrow bottom. Most of the fish are Rainbows in the 8-15 inch size. Occasionally, you'll find some larger Browns. Flows drop substantially by August and September. Fishing is open year-round with the General Fishing Season ending Nov 15th. From Nov 16th to the last Saturday of April, it is C&R only with single barbless hooks.
The Euchre Bar area of the North Fork contains many rainbows up to 18 inches as well as a few Browns.
The North Fork American has typical hatches of Caddis, Mayflies, and Golden Stones. Crystal Buggers work well, try yellow, black, and olive colors. Also use attractor beadhead nymphs as well as dries such as Adams and Humpies.
North Fork of the North Fork American River: This is a tailwater tributary out of Lake Valley Reservoir. It consists of small pools with rocky runs and pocket water. Near the reservoir, the tributary is mostly Browns in the 9-12 inch class. The North Fork campground is about 3 miles downstream where Forest Road 19 crosses and is reached from the Emigrant Gap exit off I-80. This stretch gets planted with Rainbows, many Browns remain mixed with the Rainbows. The wild trout will occur a short distance either upstream or downstream from the campground. Rainbows will be 6-10 inches.
East Fork of the North Fork of the North Fork American River: This is a small stream with Rainbows in the 6-9 inch class. It contains small pools with runs and pocket water. It can be reached from Forest Road 19 about 7 miles past the North Fork campground.