Bear River Recreation Area 

A photograph of the Bear River and two people fishing

Welcome to Bear River Recreation Area

Located in Colfax, the Bear River Recreation Area offers a variety of day-use activities from hiking, swimming, fishing, gold panning, and much more!  A 3-mile trail network runs through the park’s 200-acre property where wildlife such as deer, porcupines, and squirrels are often seen. 

The Bear River Recreation Area is owned by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Recreational amenities are operated by Placer County in partnership with the California Land Management Company which maintains facilities and assists daily visitors.

Bear River Recreation Area is open to the public for DAYTIME USE from one-half hour before sunrise until one half-hour after sunset, seven days a week.


If you would like to stay informed of public meetings and opportunities for public input on the future of Bear River Recreation Area, please email [email protected] with “Bear River Notification List in the subject line.


2500 Campground Road
Colfax, CA 95713

Day-Use Hours of Operation

1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset

Contact Placer County Department of Parks and Open Space
Phone: (530) 886-4901
Email: [email protected]
Emergency: 911 or Colfax Dispatch (530) 346-2256

  • No campfires and no fireworks allowed at any time
  • No fireworks allowed at any time
  • Trail Length & Use

5 miles of multiple-use trail for horses, bicycles and hikers.

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  • Fishing
  • Gold Panning
  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Rafting/Tubing
  • Swimming

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Wireless service is limited, download a map to your mobile device prior to your visit.

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Access FIRE RESTRICTIONS, fee schedules, Placer County Codes, reservation policies as well as deposit and cancellation information and additional information about the Bear River Recreation Area

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Make sure to check out Placer County's Twitter for news and information about Placer County.

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Make sure to check out Placer County's Facebook for news and information about Placer County.

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Make sure to check out Placer County's Instagram; #bearrivercampground #placerlife

Bear River Multipurpose Trail

A photograph of the Bear River with mountains, trees and plants

Natural History

The Bear River is part of a large network of steams draining the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. It was to these streams and rivers that the pioneers of the 1800's came to seek their fortunes. Although the "Gold Rush" is over, the Bear River is still a valuable mining resource. However, today it is aggregate, not gold, which is taken from the river bed.


Fishing is permitted on the Bear River pursuant to State Freshwater Fishing Regulations. Hunting is expressly prohibited. In addition to the rainbow trout, most frequently caught, german brown, smallmouth bass, and blue gill are also common. The fishing regulations of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife apply here at the Bear River Recreation Area.

Gold Panning

Gold panning is permitted, however, it is unlawful to operate motorized mining equipment pursuant to Placer County Code (12.24.020(G)). Excavating or removing soil from above the water line (high-banking) is prohibited.

Hiking Trails

Bear River offers a wonderful hike through nature with five miles of natural surface trails to help you explore the park and enjoy nature. Some trails are narrow and caution is advised.


The natural beauty of the canyon and river are ideal settings for nature photography.


Cruising along the riffles of the Bear River on a raft or inner tube can be a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Rafters can use the section of the river from the upper to the lower portion of the Bear River Public Recreation Area, or shuttle to the Dog Bar Road Bridge about 2.5 miles downstream of the property. Be aware of swift and cold water conditions that can change rapidly.


Refreshing swimming holes can be found along the Bear River. Beware of swift and cold water conditions, particularly early in the season. There is no lifeguard on duty.


Wildlife is also abundant although most are wary of people and are not often seen. Always be careful of rattlesnakes which are native to this area. Among the many animals living in the park are: black-tailed deer, bobcats, foxes, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, and squirrels.

Plant Life

At the park’s average elevation of 1,800 feet, there exists a diversity of plant life, from willows and alders at the river’s edge, to towering ponderosa pines and douglas firs along the hiking trails. Beneath these largest members of the plant community can be found a variety of grasses, wildflowers and shrubs, such as: bleeding heart, California buckeye, ceanothus, elderberry, manzanita, mountain misery, poison oak, toyon, and trillium.