The Salmon Fall 50K race route begins on land that people have lived on for centuries. Miwok Indian tribes were the first settlers to the area. Long ago the Miwok migrated up from the hot Central Valley in the spring and summer to fish, hunt and gather plants to eat. These first families camped near the American River until it became too hot. They then moved east on up to the cool conifer forests for the late summer season.
The some of the land they moved into later became known as Cronan Ranch. The Cronan Ranch area was first acquired by the Central Pacific Railroad through a Federal land patent in 1887. Michael Cronan acquired the property from the Central Pacific Railroad in 1891. The ranch was grazed by the Cronan family until 1918.
The race will begin at the Magnolia Ranch Trail Head parking lot off Hwy 49 in Pilot Hill. Right from the start runners will begin climbing and descending the hills of Cronan Ranch as they pass through the native oak groves. After a few miles the trail will offer runners views of the Sacramento Valley and Folsom Lake. Runners will then take the Hidden Valley Cut Off Trail and begin climbing towards the Pedro Hill parking area. The initial climb is just short of one mile in length, (0.8). Runners will then begin ascending the West Ridge Trail. This trail affords some of the best views in the Cronan Ranch area. Once at the top of the ridge runners will run the ridge before a long descend ending near the South Fork of the American River.
Continuing on runners will pass through more native oak groves and open grass meadows. Runners will then begin ascending onto an overlook thick with manzanita. Once at the top runners will have views of the Salmon Falls and the connection of the South Fork of the American River with Folsom Lake. Coming off the overlook runners will begin descending to the Salmon Falls parking area on a hill known locally as “Red Dragon”. The hill is named Red Dragon because the difficult climb twists and turns like a dragon and is made up of thick red soil. At the bottom of Red Dragon runners will enter the Salmon Falls parking area.
Salmon Falls was a former settlement which was located on the South Fork of the American River. Salmon Falls was named due to nearby waterfalls and the abundance of Salmon in the river. When Folsom Lake was created in 1952 Salmon Falls and the nearby Mormon Island settlement were flooded. Parts of the Mormon Island settlement can still be seen when Folsom Lake is at its lowest levels.
The route continues on from Salmon Falls showcasing the Sweet Water Creek trail system. Runners will pass through native oak groves, open grassland meadows and constant views of Folsom Lake. This section of the trail features constantly rolling single tract trail.
Runners will continue on rolling single track trail until Browns Ravine Marina area. This area will feature more rolling single tract trail with short climbs. A few miles after Browns Ravine runners with arrive at Dike Eight, one of the largest dikes which make up Folsom Lake. Runners will end the race by running across the top of Dike Eight to finish at Folsom Point recreation area.