If you love to hunt for rocks, minerals, and fossils, Placer County in California is a great place to explore.
With its many different rockhounding sites (including around Lake Tahoe), there is something for everyone.
From fees and 4-wheel drive requirements to the best time of year to visit, here are 8 Placer County rockhounding locations that you won’t want to miss.
Rockhounding Placer County, California
The information provided in this article by YesDirt.com is for informational purposes and is subject to change. Laws are updated. Accessibility guidelines and restrictions change. Be sure to confirm the land status and collection rules before you travel to an unfamiliar location or collect any material.
Auburn State Recreation Area
With more than 30 miles of hiking trails, the Auburn State Recreation Area is a great place to find a variety of rocks and minerals.
Some of the most common finds include quartz crystals, jasper, agate, and petrified wood.
This recreation area is located right in the heart of “gold country,” meaning there is ample opportunity to find gems along the American River.
It’s important to note there is no parking permitted along Old Foresthill Road in the Confluence Area.
If you visit during the weekend, there is a shuttle to bring guests to the park area.
Foresthill Divide Loop National Recreation Trail
This 26-mile trail along Lake Clementine is a great place to find a variety of rocks, minerals, and fossils.
Rockhounds can search the over 8-mile trail for different gems, agates, and jasper, though there are shorter loops available along the trail system.
It typically takes visitors around 4 hours to complete the full trail, so be sure to bring enough water and supplies for your day of searching.
There are numerous free parking lots in the park area, making it an easy location to stop and visit.
Many rockhounds believe the old Grizzly Bear House ruins are the best to search for rocks and other gems.
South Creek Wilson Park Trail Head
Located in nearby Lincoln Hills, the South Creek Wilson Park Trail Head is a great place to find a variety of rocks and minerals.
Some of the most common finds include quartz crystals, jasper, agate, petrified wood, and trilobites.
While this trailhead is filled with nature and hidden spots to search for rocks, it is a short loop and best for those looking for a quick stop or those traveling with small children.
There is no fee to park or enter the trail, though visitors should be cautious and watch out for rattlesnakes and other wild animals.
Rebel Ridge Trail
Though this location is one of the furthest from Place County, Rebel Ridge Trail is a great place to stop and explore for rocks and minerals.
This trail is just over one mile long, making it a great option for those short on time or exploring with young children.
The landscape is easy to navigate and boasts jasper, agates, petrified wood, and plant fossils.
There is no fee to park at the trail, though you should take caution when entering and navigating the trail.
The area is popular with bike riders, so sharing the trail is important.
Antelope Creek Trail
If you want to visit a location with a short and easy hiking trail that rockhounds can explore, visit Antelope Creek Trail in nearby Roseville, California.
There are ample locations in this modest-size park to search for rocks, fossils, and gems, though the main trail is just around one mile long.
The trail follows the flood plans that were once a landfill, making it a popular spot for rockhounds to search.
There is no fee to park at this location, though you should check the official website for conditions and closures before leaving on your trip.
Rockhounds looking for an isolated and serene location should visit the Secret Ravine of Miners Ravine, located at Dry Creek in Placer County.
Secret Ravine has over 10 miles of dense terrain filled with hiking trails for nearly every experience level.
Rockhounds tend to choose this location for the rumors of hidden gold, though there are other rocks and minerals known to be at the lake as well.
There are numerous parking lots visitors can park to visit this location, though the lot off of Folsom Road and Oak Street tends to be the most convenient.
Located in Lassen Volcanic National Park, Volcano Creek is a hotspot for finding volcanic elements and historical geological materials.
Your visit will depend greatly on the current season and weather conditions, as this area is prone to damage from wildfires and snow during the winter.
Cell phone service at Volcano Creek is scarce, which is why it’s crucial to stay on the marked trails when searching for volcanic materials.
Many hikers have been injured by going off of the trails, so be sure to follow instructions and stay safe.
Parking areas for the park are known to fill up quickly, though there are additional spaces at Loomis Plaza, Bumpass Hell, and Kings Creek Falls.
Indian Creek Trail
If you are looking for a short and easy hike filled with different types of rocks, fossils, and gems, be sure to check out the Indian Creek Trail located right in Placer County!
This location is known to have quartz, jasper, and sandstone, as well as other various plant and mammal fossils.
This trail is considered to be easy, though there are some areas with steep inclines and serious drop-offs, so it’s crucial to stay safe and aware while searching on the trails.
This location is great for those rockhounding with small children, as there is no need to hike in or out of this trailhead.
The most difficult portion of the hike is the west side of Shirttail Creek, so be sure to stay alert in this area.
One incredible benefit of this location is the ample spots along the trail where you can swim or search the water’s edge for valuable gems.
The entrance to the trailhead is located off of Yankee Jim’s Road.
Rockhounding is a great way to get outdoors, enjoy fresh air, and find amazing rocks, minerals, and fossils.
Placer County, California, is a great place to go rockhounding, with various locations to choose from. So get out there and start exploring!
California Rockhounding Resources
If you like to have a physical book in hand (like when there’s no cell service), here’s a few popular options:
Rockhounding California: A Guide To The State’s Best Rockhounding Sites
Gem Trails of Southern California
Gem Trails of Northern California
Smithsonian Rocks and Minerals Identification Guide
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