Two bridges have been added to Placer County's newest park, allowing hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and emergency vehicles to cross Coon Creek and access more of the park.
The bridges are part of a major expansion at Hidden Falls Regional Park, former ranch land in the rural foothills between Auburn and Lincoln that became a park in 2006.
By next spring, the 220- acre park will encompass 1,200 acres and will have 23 miles of multi-use trails and ranch roads added to its current seven.
The popular park's attractions include waterfalls, creeks and scenic vistas.
Describing it as "a magical place," Placer Supervisor Robert Weygandt said, "I encourage residents to visit and soak in the park's beauty and charm."
Entry and parking are free at the day-use park, which currently includes a 50-space paved parking lot with restrooms, an equestrian staging area and an observation deck over Deadman Creek Falls.
When finished, in addition to 30 miles of trails, it will have more picnic areas, interpretive signage and a second observation deck overlooking the waterfall on Coon Creek.
The two new bridges allowing access to the northern side of Coon Creek are each more than 100 feet long and are metal, designed to rust over to a protective rustic finish.
They were delivered in pieces, spliced together and lowered with a crane the first on Oct. 20 and the second on Oct. 30.
"It was pretty impressive watching them line up the bolts on either side and lower it into place," said county spokesman Robert Miller.
The park is being developed by the Placer Legacy Open Space Program with the support of many funding partners and volunteers, including the California Natural Resources Agency, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Conservation Corps, REI Inc., Folsom Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition, Sun City Lincoln Hills Hiking Club and California State Parks.
To visit, follow Atwood Road west from Highway 49 in Auburn until it becomes Mt. Vernon Road and follow it to Mears Road. Turn right (north) on Mears Road and follow it to Mears Place.
Park hours are from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset daily.
Trail maps are available at trailheads and at: http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/Facility/parks/hiddenfalls.aspx. At the site, under "quick links," click on "trail system."