At lower elevations, Middle Fork Project facilities at Ralston Afterbay provide for picnicking along the Middle Fork American River as well as reservoir-based recreation including fishing, swimming, and boating. The Indian Bar Rafting Access and Parking area near Oxbow Powerhouse supports whitewater boating in the Middle Fork American River as well as localized stream based recreation such as fishing and picnicking.
The North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River is small and somewhat difficult to wade, but for the serious angler, the rewards are well worth it. Access is at the trailhead at Circle Bridge off Mosquito Ridge Road. The fish, Sacramento sucker, Hardhead, Smallmouth bass, Speckled dace, Sacramento Pikeminnow, Rainbow and Brown Trout range from 8 to 16 inches. Fishing at French Meadows and Hell Hole.
Hiking and Horsebacking Riding
North Fork of the Middle Fork Trail runs upstream along the river. Its scenic beauty and easy grade make it a popular choice, hikers are drawn to it year round. It is also used by people mining along the river. Wildflowers are plentiful and good fishing is available.
Mileage: 1.1 mile
Elevation: 1,400 feet
Use Level: Moderate
Topographic Map: Michigan Bluff
Access: The trailhead begins on Mosquito Ridge Road next to Circle Bridge spanning the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River.
There are several picnicking locations along the project area. Ralston Picnic Area, located just before PCWA’s Ralston Afterbay Dam off Mosquito Ridge Road on Forest Road 23, provides a secluded getaway right on the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the American River. In a slow moving, shallow area of the river, this makes it the perfect spot for a dip, fishing, gold panning or canoeing in the clear refreshing water. There are 5 picnic tables with fire rings, and vault toilets at this site. This area is for day use only.