Outdoor recreation is a way of life in the Coloma-Lotus area. Many of our residents first came here as visitors to enjoy the whitewater paddling, hiking or fishing. They liked what they found, fell in love with the area, and are now happy to call the Coloma Valley home.

Whitewater Paddling

whitewater rafting on the American River near ColomaThe South Fork of the American River boasts the most popular whitewater in California. The 20-mile run from Chili Bar to Salmon Falls features over 20 named rapids and countless waves in between. Most paddlers run the river with a commercial rafting company. The outfitter provides the equipment, experienced guides, plus life jackets and other gear so that you can enjoy the outdoor adventure without the hassle. See our Whitewater Rafting on the South Fork of the American River page for more information on what to expect and how to choose an outfitter.

Those who decide to invest time in learning to navigate the river themselves will also find the South Fork a great destination. The 3-mile, Class II “Coloma to Lotus” stretch is an ideal introduction to whitewater. Intermediate boaters enjoy the increased challenge of the Class III “Chili Bar” and “Gorge” runs, and the expert kayakers spend hours perfecting their rodeo moves in the world-famous Chili Bar Hole and other play spots. Though most paddlers wait for the hot summer days, the hardy (and addicted) can be found on the river year-round, taking advantage of the traffic-free waters of winter and spring. Private rafters and kayakers alike will find lots of information on river conditions, logistics and local resources on the Whitewater Kayaking page.

Roads & Trails

Miles of trails, country roads. Great place for moving your body … whether walking, running, bicycling, or horseback riding.

To best savor, the beauty of this lovely valley, go slowly. The centerpiece of the valley is, of course, the South Fork of the American River. Thousands enjoy its waters each year from the vantage point of a raft or kayak. But there are other paths to fun, exercise or contemplation of the beauty that abounds here. Walkers, joggers, equestrians and bicyclists will find plenty of outdoor opportunities.

Cronan Ranch near Coloma, California


The river also draws those looking for quiet walks and picnics by the river. Our four riverfront parks offer a variety of picnic spots and a wide range of hikes, from easy strolls for the family to strenuous hikes to the ridge top.

Bring your bicycle when you come to visit! There are lots of quiet country roads to explore, and back roads for mountain biking. Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park offers miles of bicycling and equestrian trails.

Not enough? The South Fork of the American River offers other activities, from wading and fishing to gold panning.

All that exercise can burn a lot of calories! Make sure you stay well-fueled at our local cafés and restaurants. And when you’re happily exhausted at day’s end, a night in a Coloma area inn or campground will let you relax and stock up on energy for the next day’s action. Enjoy!