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.
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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.