17 Things to Do in Colfax

Nestled in the heart of the Sierra Nevada foothills, Colfax is a charming small town in California with a rich history, picturesque surroundings, and countless outdoor activities for the whole family. Perfect for summer visits, travelers seeking adventure, or those simply looking for a relaxing getaway, Colfax has it all. 

With easy access to lakes, rivers, hiking trails, and nearby attractions, it’s no wonder Colfax is considered a hidden gem in California. So, let’s dive into the top 17 unforgettable things to do in Colfax, California!

1. Take a Hike at Stevens Trail

Stevens Trail
Photo by https://www.reddit.com/r/hiking/comments/fnfbaw/stevens_trail_in_colfax_ca/

Located just a 10-minute or 3.6-mile drive from downtown Colfax, the Stevens Trail is a beautiful hike that takes you through lush forests and steep canyons. It offers breathtaking views of the North Fork American River. This 7.7-mile round-trip trail is perfect for both beginners and seasoned hikers. Plus, there’ll be plenty of chances to snap photos along the way.

2. Hike and Experience the Waterfalls on Sailor Flat Trail

Sailor Flat Trail
Photo by https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/california/sailor-flat-trail/photos

Another gem of Colfax’s hiking scene is the Sailor Flat Trail. Just an hour and 23 minutes (57 miles) from Colfax, this moderately challenging 4.6-mile round-trip hike rewards you with cascading waterfalls, wildflowers, and a serene swimming hole. It’s a great spot for a dip on a hot summer day!

3. Go Hiking and Picnicking at Codfish Falls’ Splendor

Codfish Falls
Photo by https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32233-d142468-Reviews-Codfish_Creek_Trail-Colfax_Placer_County_California.html

Located about 26 minutes or 10 miles away from Colfax, the Codfish Falls Trail is a must-visit for waterfall enthusiasts. This relatively easy 3.4-mile round-trip hike takes you through lush forests and beautiful landscapes, eventually leading to the enchanting Codfish Falls. Pack a picnic and spend your day in this scenic area.

4. Go Whitewater Rafting on the North Fork American River

North Fork American River
Photo by https://www.raft-h2o.com/north-fork-american-river

For thrill-seekers, Colfax’s North Fork American River offers an adrenaline-pumping river rafting experience. Just an hour and 9 minutes (27 miles) from the town, the river provides exciting Class III-IV rapids and stunning canyon scenery. Numerous outfitters in the area offer guided rafting trips, ensuring a safe and fun-filled adventure for everyone.

5. Go Fishing on the North Fork American River

Need something more laid-back? The North Fork American River, just 44 minutes (35 miles) away, is also a popular spot for fishing. The river’s teeming with rainbow and brown trout, making it an angler’s paradise. Bring your fishing gear and a valid California fishing license for a relaxing day by the water.

6. Have a Scenic Picnic by the North Fork American River

If you prefer a more leisurely activity, pack a picnic and head down to the North Fork American River just 44 minutes (35 miles) away. With numerous picnic areas, sandy beaches, and easy access, it’s an excellent spot for families with kids. Take a break from your adventures; enjoy the natural beauty of Colfax while you savor a delicious meal outdoors.

7. Take a Dive at Colfax’s Refreshing Swimming Hole Escape

If you’re a fan of swimming holes, you’ll love Mineral Bar. A 12-minute drive from Colfax, this swimming hole is an idyllic spot to cool off during summer. With clear, cool water, sandy beaches, and shaded picnic areas, it’s a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, sunscreen, and a floating device for a fun day of swimming and sunbathing.

8. Go Camping at Bear River Park and Campground

Bear River Park and Campground
Photo by https://thedyrt.com/camping/california/california-bear-river-county-park

Bear River Park and Campground is a 22-minute (10-mile) drive from Colfax. It offers another swimming hole, camping facilities, picnic areas, and a playground for kids. 

The park’s well-maintained grounds and easy access make it a popular spot for family outings and weekend getaways. Are you in the mood for an overnight adventure? Book a campsite and enjoy a night under the stars.

9. Take a Guided Tour of the Empire Mine State Historic Park

Empire Mine State Historic Park
Photo by https://www.visitcalifornia.com/experience/empire-mine-state-historic-park/

A quick 18-minute or 11-mile drive from Colfax, you’ll find the historic town of Grass Valley, home to the Empire Mine State Historic Park. As one of California’s oldest and richest gold mines, this park offers a fascinating glimpse into the state’s Gold Rush history. Explore the beautifully preserved grounds, take a guided tour of the mine, or hike the scenic trails surrounding the park.

10. Explore the Ghost Town of Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Photo by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malakoff_Diggins_State_Historic_Park

Just an hour away from Colfax, the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park in Nevada City is another great spot for history buffs. The park features the largest hydraulic gold mine in California and the charming ghost town of North Bloomfield. Wander through the historic buildings, learn about the mining history, and take a scenic hike on one of the park’s many trails.

11. Take a Tour of the Colfax Railroad Museum

Colfax Railroad Museum
Photo by https://www.visiteauclaire.com/listing/colfax-railroad-museum-inc/1038/

The Colfax Railroad Museum is a must-visit attraction for train enthusiasts and history lovers. Located in downtown Colfax, this small but fascinating museum showcases the town’s rich railroad history through exhibits, artifacts, and model trains. It’s a great place for kids and adults alike to learn about the railroad’s vital role in Colfax’s development.

12. Go Swimming and Boating at Rollins Lake

Rollins Lake
Photo by https://www.visitplacer.com/rollins-lake/

For a fun-filled day at the lake, look no further than Rollins Lake, just a 35-minute and 16-mile drive from Colfax. This beautiful lake is perfect for swimming, boating, fishing, and picnicking. With several campgrounds, boat rentals, and easy access, it’s a favorite destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

13. Enjoy Serene Paddleboarding at Lake Clementine

Lake Clementine
Photo by https://www.mklibrary.com/lake-clementine/

Another fantastic lake option is Lake Clementine, just a 23-minute (18.5-mile) drive from Colfax. This serene lake is perfect for paddleboarding, offering calm waters and picturesque surroundings. Rent a paddleboard from a nearby outfitter and explore the lake at your own pace, taking in the area’s natural beauty.

14. Stroll Through the Charming Dutch Flat Historic District

Just a 17-minute or 12-mile drive from Colfax, the Dutch Flat Historic District offers a fascinating glimpse into the area’s Gold Rush past. With beautifully preserved Victorian architecture and charming streets, Dutch Flat is perfect for a leisurely walk while learning about its rich history through interpretive plaques.

15. Bask in Nature at Sugar Pine Reservoir Recreation Area

Sugar Pine Reservoir Recreation Area
Photo by https://sierranevadageotourism.org/entries/sugar-pine-recreation-area-foresthill-divide/425c5962-b32d-4847-aada-901047aff128

Located about 45 minutes and 17 miles from Colfax, the Sugar Pine Reservoir Recreation Area offers a variety of outdoor activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and mountain biking. With a beautiful forest setting and well-maintained facilities, it’s an excellent destination for a day trip or weekend getaway.

16. Go Hiking at Hidden Falls Regional Park’s Wonders

Hidden Falls Regional Park
Photo by https://www.placer.ca.gov/6106/Hidden-Falls-Regional-Park

A 30-minute or 21-mile drive from Colfax, Hidden Falls Regional Park boasts 30 miles of multi-use trails, perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The park is named after its stunning, cascading waterfall, accessible via a moderately easy hike. With picnic areas and a wide variety of flora and fauna, Hidden Falls Regional Park is perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

17. Go on a Hiking Adventure on the Independence Trail

Independence Trail
Photo by https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g32771-d4543137-Reviews-Independence_Trail-Nevada_City_California.html

Approximately 32 minutes or 21 miles from Colfax, the Independence Trail near Nevada City offers a unique hiking experience. As California’s first wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail, it features wooden flumes and bridges that were once part of a historic water system. The trail takes you through lush forests and offers beautiful views of the South Yuba River.

Hey, if you stick around the area make sure to check out these other towns:


With its rich history, picturesque surroundings, and outdoor activities, Colfax, California, is truly a hidden gem in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a family-friendly getaway, Colfax has something to keep you interested. So, pack your bags and discover the unforgettable experiences awaiting you in this charming California town!

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