Gold Bug Mine and Stamp Mill in Placerville

On the way to South Lake Tahoe, in the town of Placerville, sits the Gold Bug Mine. This mine is a fantastic stop for the whole family as it has a self-guided, real gold mine tour you can go on, a historic stamp mill and a blacksmiths shop. If you 30 minutes to spare, I am sure you will enjoy your time, here is all the information.


  • $5 to go in the mine
  • Hours: Most day 10 AM – 4 PM
  • Location: 2635 Gold Bug Ln, Placerville, CA 95667

Getting There

From Sacremento, you will take Highway 50 east towards Lake Tahoe. When you reach the town of Placerville, you will get to a light and will turn left at Bedford Ave. Continue on this road for one mile, and then you will turn right on Gold Bug Lane. There is parking near the mine and stamp mill.

The Mine

I recommend heading to the mine first. You get there by going into the building off to the left of the parking area. Proceeding to the second floor where you will see a bunch of mining materials, and there will be a worker who will take your payment for the mine.

After paying, they instruct you to download an app on your phone that you can use to listen to an audio tour while in the mine. This app is such a great idea, and I wonder why more places don’t do it. They also give you a hard hat which I appreciated as I am tall and bumped my head a few times.

The mine tour takes about 30 minutes, and you just walk through the mine and stop at the different numbers then play the app to learn about each one.

As far as I know, this is one of the only self-guided mine tours in California, at least I haven’t done any others. It was great to be able to spend more time at each area if we wanted to and to just go at our own pace.

There is a lot of interesting information to hear on the tour and I enjoyed listening to the entire audio guide.

When you reach the end of the mine, you will turn around and then there are a few additional numbers on the way back out to complete the tour.

When we went on a weekday, and there were only a few other people at the mine which made exploring it even more awesome.

After leaving the mine, you will want to either drive or walk the quarter mile up to the stamp mill.

The Stamp Mill

This historic structure has been here for over a century, and it is still in good shape to this day. It isn’t a working stamp mill anymore, but they show you how a working mill functions at the bottom.

I had seen a few other stamp mills before around California, but it was still interesting to hear more about this one.

The Blacksmith Shop

At the top of the stamp mill is a working blacksmith shop, and the blacksmith was there when we visited making stuff for people. He made my wife a ring out of a bent nail which was a fun little addition to the park.

After exploring a bit more, we left the park and heading on to South Lake Tahoe. If you are looking to add more time to your visit to Placerville, then you can see a few more of my favorite spots in this post.

Hiking to the Lake Clementine Dam & Foresthill Bridge in Auburn

If you live in Northern California and use Instagram then you have no doubt seen people standing out on a small rock with a large man-made waterfall flowing off a dam behind them. This spot is known as the Lake Clementine Dam, and while you can technically drive pretty close to it, it is much more fun to take the 4.5 mile round trip hike which also takes you under the tallest bridge in California, the Foresthill Bridge. Here is all the information so you can do it yourself.

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  • 4.5 miles round trip
  • $10 to park since it is a state park
  • 200 feet of elevation
  • Location: 137 Old Foresthill Rd, Auburn, CA 95603

Getting There

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This trail starts from Auburn State Recreation Area which is right on the North Fork of the American River. From Highway 80 you will get on the 49 / 193 then you will take the 193 all the way till it splits. One way goes to the city of “Cool”, and the other goes on Old Foresthill Road. From here you will no doubt see cars on both sides of you, grab a spot when you can and pay your fee at the small ranger station. You can use the address above as well.

The Trail

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From the ranger station, you will be heading over the bridge across the American River and then walking left on the dirt road with a gate at the front.

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This path is what you will be taking for the next 2 miles.

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It is relatively unshaded in the beginning, but this is my favorite part as you are going along the river and walking towards the Foresthill Bridge.

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The bridge looms 700 feet above you, and this really helps to give you a feel for just how massive it truly is.

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I spent a lot of time just taking pictures and looking at the new angles as I walked the trail.

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This section is also really popular for swimming, and when you pass under the Foresthill Bridge, you will probably see a lot of people in the water.

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I didn’t get a chance to swim, but it looked amazing with the clear and peaceful water so I will certainly be back.

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At about the 1.25-mile mark the trail starts to head uphill for the next 3/4ths of a mile. The uphill is not too tough since it is well shaded and the sun is not beating down on you. Just take your time here and take in all the views.

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As you start to reach the end of the uphill part, you will catch a few glimpses of the dam to your left through the trees. The trail then crosses another gate at the 2-mile mark, and you will start walking on the cement.

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Head to the left with the signs that point to Lake Clementine and watch out for cars as this is a place where people can drive again.

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When you get to the bottom of this section you will see a small single track that heads down to the left, take this and make your way down to the dam.

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When you reach the end of the trail, you will be able to see the dam from above and Lake Clementine behind it.

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You can just turn around here or head down the scrambling portion to the dam itself. Of course, that is what I recommend as it is amazing to see the massive amount of water coming off of it and the rainbows it kicks up.

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There are a lot of great picture opportunities of the dam as well, and this is a great spot to take a break and have a snack. Once you are done, you will head back the way you came, which includes going up the steep paved portion then heading downhill the whole way back to your car.

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All in all, this is a fantastic hike in the Auburn area, one with tons of great photos opportunities. Be sure to add it to your list and let me know what you think in the comments.

Mellow Fellow: The Bar on the California/Nevada State Line

This small bar in Kings Beach, close to the water of Lake Tahoe, is a great spot for a snack and a beer after a long day of exploring the area. The best part about this bar though is that it is pretty much “unofficially” split down the middle of California and Nevada. I say unofficially because the state line is a little difficult to nail down, but right outside the bar is a sign welcoming you to Nevada when heading east and California while heading west. Here is all the information if you want to have a snack and drink in two different states.

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  • Cost: ~$10-12 for a drink and pretzel
  • Location: 9980 N Lake Blvd, Kings Beach, CA 96143

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When you cross over into California from Nevada on Highway 28 you will see the small building called Mellow Fellow.

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I went in the winter, so the outdoor tables were covered with snow and not in use. The interior was warm though and the staff were inviting.

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If you like beer, then the over 20 beers they have on tap will be a welcomed sight for you. They even let you have a splash if you want to see what one tastes like before you commit.

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They also have a food menu that has sausages with all sorts of different meats, ranging from Elk to Pheasant and a lot of pub foods like soft pretzels. I went with the smoked apple gouda sausage and a pretzel. Both come with your choice of honey mustard or spicy mustard and both mustards are really good.

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I was happy with the sausage I ordered as it was flavorful and well cooked. The mustard on top sealed the deal for me. Also, the pretzel was a great addition if you just wanted something to munch on while having a drink. It’s nothing to write home about but it is good enough.

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All in all it is fun to be able to visit a spot like this that is right on the state line of California and Nevada. With such a big beer list, a warm staff and good food to munch on it is an easy recommendation for a stop in Kings Beach.