El Dorado County is located in California’s historic Gold Country, in the foothills and Sierra Nevada Mountains. The western boundary contains part of Folsom Lake. The eastern boundary is the California-Nevada State line. El Dorado county’s largest city is the City of South Lake Tahoe, while the County seat is in Placerville. The landscape, filled with soaring mountains, lush hills, roaring rivers, and sparkling lakes.
Placerville, a charming gold rush town centrally located between Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, is a great place to begin your explorations of the county before heading further east into the Sierras. Taking a stroll through the historic downtown core offers the chance to delve into its treasured heritage, reflected in the 19th-century architecture that lines the streets.
Gold Bug Mine-El Dorado County
Gold Bug Mine is just 5 minutes from downtown Placerville. Here you can step back in time, experiencing what it was like to work and live during the Gold Rush days. It includes a real gold mine, where visitors learn about the tools of the trade. Activities include gold panning, hike trails, explore a stamp mill, blacksmith shop and more. Address: 2635 Gold Bug Ln, Placerville, CA 95667
In Coloma, less than 10 miles northwest of Placerville, you can visit the very spot the state’s Gold Rush began. This is where Marshall made his big discovery in 1848. The park features the original cabin, a museum, historic churches, and Sutter’s Mill. Visitors can also take gold panning lessons, and the chance to try your luck in its panning troughs.
The Apple Hill-Camino Wineries are part of the Apple Hill Wine Trail, which begins just northeast of Placerville. The trail features picturesque vineyards and wineries like the Boeger Winery Farm, the oldest winery in the county. The farm sits upon a lovely Gold Rush-era homestead and is renowned for its innovative, unusual varietals and blends. Others include Honey Bear Ranch, Fenton Herriott Vineyards, Lava Cap Winery, and Madrona Winery.
Located in the El Dorado National Forest toward South Lake Tahoe, Horsetail Falls. The falls are along Highway 50 at Twin Bridges, about two miles east of Strawberry. This is a wonderful stop to get out and stretch your leg. Two trails lead to the falls. Wilderness Boundary trail will get you as close to the falls as possible. While the gentle view loop is ideal for families with young kids.
As you approach the southwest area of Lake Tahoe, you’ll come to Emerald Bay State Park. The bay is one of the most photographed on the planet, and absolutely spectacular. Visitors can enjoy soaking up the sand and the sun from the beach. Jump off the pier, go kayaking or paddleboarding and even tour a castle. Vikingsholm Castle sits at the head of Emerald Bay. The building includes some original features of 11th-century stone churches from southern Sweden. Emerald Bay State Park is one of the most photographed destinations in El Dorado County.
Most anything you like to do, outdoor or nature-related can be enjoyed at Folsom Lake. Popular activities include hiking the many trails in the park. Running and horseback riding is also a treat at Folsom Lake and surrounding areas.