Devil's Falls

Auburn State Recreation Area / Colfax / Foresthill / Yankee Jim's Road, California, USA

About Devil’s Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2021-04-10
Date last visited: 2021-04-10

Waterfall Latitude: 39.03913
Waterfall Longitude: -120.89479

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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.

Devils_Falls_024_04102021 - Devil's Falls
Devil’s Falls

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.

Yankee_Jim_Road_021_iPhone_04102021 - Approaching the historical Yankee Jim's Bridge traversing the North Fork American River
Approaching the historical Yankee Jim’s Bridge traversing the North Fork American River

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.

Devils_Falls_002_04102021 - Context of the Yankee Jim's Road and the Devil's Falls
Context of the Yankee Jim’s Road and the Devil’s Falls

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.

Authorities

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.

Yankee_Jim_Road_002_iPhone_04102021 - Soon after leaving Canyon Way onto the Yankee Jim's Road, it narrows quickly though it starts off paved
Yankee_Jim_Road_003_iPhone_04102021 - The Yankee Jim's Road starting to twist and turn as it soon starts to go unpaved after this point
Yankee_Jim_Road_005_iPhone_04102021 - Now the Yankee Jim's Road was unpaved and dusty as it made its long descent towards the Yankee Jim's Bridge at the North Fork American River
Yankee_Jim_Road_007_iPhone_04102021 - Continuing on the narrow unpaved road leading to the Yankee Jim's Bridge and eventually Devil's Falls
Yankee_Jim_Road_012_iPhone_04102021 - Continuing on the narrow and unpaved Yankee Jim's Road en route to the Yankee Jim's Bridge and Devil's Falls
Yankee_Jim_Road_015_iPhone_04102021 - Still driving on the narrow and unpaved Yankee Jim's Road with some wildflowers blooming off the side of the road
Yankee_Jim_Road_018_iPhone_04102021 - An incoming car going in the opposite direction as me on the Yankee Jim's Road
Yankee_Jim_Road_025_iPhone_04102021 - Beyond the Yankee Jim's Bridge, I caught up to this pick-up truck in front of me, which gives you an idea of how narrow the Yankee Jim's Road is
Yankee_Jim_Road_033_iPhone_04102021 - Looking towards the Devil's Falls from the Yankee Jim's Road
Devils_Falls_005_04102021 - Portait context of Devil's Falls as seen from Yankee Jim's Road
Devils_Falls_006_04102021 - Long-exposed look at the Devil's Falls from the Yankee Jim's Road
Devils_Falls_020_04102021 - Looking straight up at Devil's Falls from its base
Devils_Falls_022_04102021 - Another frontal look at the Devil's Falls from near its base
Yankee_Jim_Road_041_iPhone_04102021 - Continuing to drive east on the Yankee Jim's Road after leaving Devil's Falls
Yankee_Jim_Road_045_iPhone_04102021 - Approaching the end of the unpaved part of the Yankee Jim's Road on the Foresthill side


Devil’s Falls on the Yankee Jim’s Road almost exactly half-way between Colfax and Foresthill.

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

Yankee_Jim_Road_009_iPhone_04102021 - Entering the Yankee Jim's Road that was in the Auburn State Recreation Area
Entering the Yankee Jim’s Road that was in the Auburn State Recreation Area

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.

Yankee_Jim_Road_020_iPhone_04102021 - Approaching the historic Yankee Jim's Road
Approaching the historic Yankee Jim’s Road

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.

Yankee_Jim_Road_042_iPhone_04102021 - Looking back at a sign on the opposite end of the Yankee Jim's Road closer to the Foresthill side
Looking back at a sign on the opposite end of the Yankee Jim’s Road closer to the Foresthill side

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.

Yankee_Jim_Road_029_iPhone_04102021 - Following another car on the narrow Yankee Jim's Road as a vehicle going in the opposite direction stopped to let us pass
Following another car on the narrow Yankee Jim’s Road as a vehicle going in the opposite direction stopped to let us pass

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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Video showing Devils Falls on one side of its stream before checking out the narrow Yankee Jim's Road, and then ending off with a more frontal view of the falls


Top down semi-circular sweep in front of Devil's Falls before following its stream towards the Yankee Jim's Road

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Tagged with: auburn state recreation area, yankee jims road, yankee jims bridge, colfax, foresthill, devils canyon, north fork american river



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