The stress from the blown tire while driving to Angels Camp on Sunday and the back-and-forth Jackson drives and explorations on Monday and Tuesday told us we needed a break. So, instead of packing in a full day, we opted for another hike at New Melones Lake and a relaxing afternoon at the trailer.
Angels Creek Trail
The Angels Creek trail was a perfect choice for our second hike in New Melones Lake recreation area. Listed as a 2.5-mile moderate trail, it was a good follow-up after the short one we took the day before.
We parked at the Buck Brush Day Use Area and started out on the trail that loops around a partial peninsula. We traveled through woodlands, grasslands, and a small section of wetland pond.
I was surprised to see manzanita trees so tall. The ones I’ve seen before were more like a bush and not much higher than my waist. With 105 species and subspecies of the plant, I guess they come in all shapes and sizes depending on the soil and other growing conditions.
It’s good to know that the berries and the leaves make an excellent snack in case I get hungry on a hike. According to Wikipedia, Native Americans made cider with the berries and toothbrushes with the leaves.
Wildflowers were plentiful on this trail too. Lupine blanketed the slopes above the lake and patches of yellow flowers crossed our path.
It’s hard to comprehend the size of the lake from one or two locations since it spreads out into canyons, arms, and fingers. A map is best to visualize the lake’s size.
From the trail I spied this restroom at the Angels Creek Boat Launch that was closed. It looked like it went a couple of rounds with a windstorm.
After our hike we drove to the Marina and Glory Hole Point Launch area. The normal boat ramp was closed since it ended well above the water surface, so boaters had to drive out on the point to launch their marine toys.
The next day we drove north to the City of Sutter Creek. Someone told us Sutter Creek had the best historic downtown, so we had to see for ourselves. On the way there, Jon stopped so I could take a photo of this structure nestled among the trees.
Visitors will find drinks and food at the tasting rooms and restaurants that line the street. And shoppers are sure to find something to take home from one of the antique, clothing, and gift stores. I did. An apron and a pair of pants had me pulling out my wallet.
Sutter Creek started its life around 1848 as a settlement, offering food, drink, and mining equipment. Legally founded on September 4, 1854, the population grew, welcoming Americans, Europeans, Asians and Pacific Islanders. Immigrants from Italy, Yugoslavia, and Cornwall, England, influenced the building methods and architecture.
After the 1860s, the town became known for the local quartz-mining activities and continued to grow and prosper. Once the mines closed, the city transitioned into a tourist town, attracting visitors from San Francisco, Sacramento, and beyond.
Here are just a few of the many buildings in the historic downtown region. The use of native stone as a building material and iron doors contributed to the survival of many of the buildings from the 1800s. The town learned early on that stone and iron can prevent fires from taking out an entire town.
The Sutter Creek Auditorium was built in 1939. The conference and event venue includes a small kitchen and large stage with parking in the back.
A fire in 1865 destroyed the American House, built on this site in 1852, along with most of the town. When rebuilt, it opened as the American Exchange Hotel and enjoyed a long history. Today, Hotel Sutter offers twenty-one guest rooms, a restaurant, bar, and a banquet room for up to 100 people.
The J. Monteverde building is a museum with displays of dry goods, hardware, and other products commonly available for purchase during the Gold Rush era. Unfortunately, it was closed during our visit.
Built in 1919 for silent films, the Ratto Theatre is one of four art deco theatres constructed by John Ratto in Amador County. This one is the only one that survived over the years.
Visitors needing a comfy bed and a scrumptious meal have the Foxes Inn and the Sutter Creek Inn to choose from. Both properties were built in the 1800s and feature rooms with private baths.
Here are a few things I’d like to do and see on a return trip to Sutter Creek:
- Knight Foundry – A water-powered foundry and machine shop that operated from 1873 until the 1960s. Check the website for information on tour days and times.
- Miner’s Bend – A park with artifacts and replicas of Sutter Creek’s gold rush history.
- Preston Castle – Opened in 1894 as a reform school for boys, the Preston School of Industry operated until 1960. It was built in the Romanesque Revival style using bricks made in San Quentin and Folsom prisons. Check the website for information about visiting.
So do we think Sutter Creek is the best historic town in the Mother Lode? It’s definitely at the top of the list, but I’m reserving my answer until I’ve seen more. Each of them has their own personality, and I haven’t explored enough to form an opinion. I think we need a few more trips to the Gold Country to investigate towns north of Sutter Creek and south of Angel’s Camp.
On our way back to the trailer, we stopped at this water tower. The Italian Picnic Grounds was founded in 1881. They hold an annual picnic and parade in non-pandemic years. Sounds like fun. Maybe it will come back in 2022.
That’s it for now. Coming up next: Big Trees State Park