About Devil’s Falls
Devils Falls (or Devil’s Falls) was an attractive 50-75ft roadside waterfall along the historically-rich, dusty, and twisty Yankee Jim’s Road in the Auburn State Recreation Area between Colfax and Foresthill.
I learned about this waterfall as a drive-to entry in my Ann Marie Brown California Waterfalls book, but it turned out to be a bit more adventure than the roadside location might suggest.
Indeed, the Yankee Jim’s Road had a bit of an outlaw and gold mining history as it was said to be named after a horse-stealing outlaw who found gold in the area and built a corral for the stolen horses.
Eventually, other people found gold in the area and were onto his horse-stealing ways, which ultimately drove him out of this canyon.
He was ultimately hanged in Southern California when he was caught stealing horses there.
Anyways, back to the waterfall, I was able to see the Devil’s Falls right off the road shortly after crossing the historical Yankee Jim’s Road when I drove the stretch from Colfax to Foresthill.
Most of the people driving this road appeared to spend their time by the creaky-looking Yankee Jim’s Bridge over the North Fork American River.
Devil’s Falls was about 0.6-mile east of the Yankee Jim’s Bridge.
Even though I could see the waterfall from the car while driving the road, there were a couple of pullout spots on either side of its seasonal creek.
That was where I got out of the car and checked out the waterfall more intimately while also noticing the tunnel underneath the road eventually spilling deeper into Shirttail Canyon.
In addition to the bridge, I noticed another seasonal waterfall in Mexican Gulch 1.5 miles further to the east of the Devil’s Falls.
Unfortunately, during my early April 2021 visit, that waterfall was trickling or dry considering that year was a drought year.
Devils Falls resides in the Auburn State Recreation Area between Colfax and Foresthill in Placer County, California. It is administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
I’ll describe the driving directions from Sacramento to get to either side of the road (in case you’re up for driving east from Colfax or west from Foresthill).
Driving from Sacramento to the Colfax End of Yankee Jim’s Road
From downtown Sacramento, I drove east on the Hwy 160 towards the Hwy 99, and then I took the I-80 east.
After driving about 39 miles on the I-80 towards Reno, I then took exit 133 towards Canyon Way and Placer Hills Rd.
At the off-ramp, I then turned right onto Canyon Way and drove about 3/4-mile to the Yankee Jim’s Road on the left.
Yankee Jim’s Bridge was about 4.5 miles along Yankee Jim’s Road, and Devil’s Falls was another 0.6-mile further.
The Mexican Gulch Waterfall was another 1.5 miles further, and the road arrived in the township of Foresthill after about 5.5 miles further.
Overall, the drive between Sacramento to Devil’s Falls took me around 1 hour 20 minutes.
Driving from Sacramento to the Foresthill End of Yankee Jim’s Road
From downtown Sacramento, I would drive the same route as described above to reach the I-80 east.
Then, I’d take the I-80 East for a little over 26 miles to the exit 121 onto the Foresthill Auburn Ravine Rd.
Turning right at the offramp, I would then drive east on the Foresthill Road for 17 miles into the township of Foresthill.
Finally, I’d turn left onto Gold St, and at the next fork, I’d keep left to go onto Yankee Jim’s Road.
From there, I’d drive 5.5 miles towards the Mexican Gulch Waterfall, another 1.5-mile to the Devil’s Falls, and another 0.6-mile to the Yankee Jim’s Bridge.
After another 4.5 miles west of the bridge, I’ll reach Canyon Way near Colfax to end this stretch of Yankee Jim’s Road.
Overall, the drive between Sacramento to Devil’s Falls would also take around 1.5 hours.
For more geographical context, Auburn was about 33 miles (roughly 30 minutes drive) northeast of Sacramento, 40 miles (under an hour drive) southeast of Yuba City, 120 miles (2 hours drive) north of San Francisco, 86 miles (2 hours drive) west of South Lake Tahoe, 152 miles (2.5 hours drive) north of San Jose, 157 miles (under 3 hours drive) south of Redding, and 417 miles (6.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles.
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