The Dave Moore Nature Area near Coloma in the heart of Gold Country speaks to a legacy of compassion.
As a printed sign reads at the start of the easy 1-mile loop, the area is named after a former Bureau of Land Management conservation ranger who retired after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 35.
“His disability brought to his co-workers such an awareness of the struggle faced by disabled persons that they developed a nature area for the physically challenged along the South Fork of the American River,” the sign reads. (Moore died in Calistoga at 52 in 2001.)
Almost a quarter-century after its opening, that area remains a lovingly maintained trail that winds past madrone, pine, pungent native California lilac and other greenery toward a stretch of rapids before it loops back to the parking lot. In its first half, the flat, wide trail crosses streams on wooden, wheelchair-accessible footbridges. After the rapids, however, the trail grows rockier and inaccessible to wheelchair.
It won’t satisfy the adventure seekers or even the day hikers, but the Dave Moore Nature Area makes a lovely jaunt through the woods for people of all physical abilities. It can also serve as the warm-up or cool-down to a few hours poking around Sutter’s Mill and other nearby Gold Rush-era landmarks.
How to get there: Take Highway 49 about 14 miles south of Interstate 80. From Highway 50, exit at North Shingle Road, turn left at Lotus Road and turn left at Highway 49.