In 2010 Placer Land Trust purchased nearly 2,000 acres along Bear River now known as Harvego Bear River Preserve. The property, off of Lonestar Road in Auburn, includes a working cattle ranch, woodlands, grasslands, and a spectacular view from Bald Rock Mountain. Harvego is PLT’s biggest purchase to-date.
Though one PLT hiking docent, who prefers not to be named, remembers the property before it was called Harvego. In fact, the land and the river were her childhood playground. Her dad, who restored golf courses for a living, purchased 5,000 acres along Bear River in 1957 with the intention of building what is now Auburn Valley Golf Club. The family, then settled near Walnut Creek, headed up to Auburn for summer holidays and on weekends. “It was a trek,” our docent said. “There was no Benicia Bridge, so we had to take the ferry over. If we didn’t get there on time,” she said, “we weren’t going.”
Once in Auburn, though, our docent remembers spending her time in an outdoor wonderland; hiking, searching for pinecone fire starters, picking figs, looking for treasures around old stone walls her family called “The Homestead,” trekking around in a “three-on-the-tree” Jeep that often broke down, and, of course, relaxing by the river. “We used to fish with bamboo sticks, string, safety pins, and salmon eggs. If we caught a Bluegill, we yanked it out of the water and flung it on the ground.” Later, she would get in hot water for fishing on the golf course.
The ranch house where the family stayed during their visits soon became the clubhouse on the 10th fairway of the golf course, and the family moved into the nearby bunkhouse. The roads around the property already existed, but our docent’s father spent a lot of time maintaining them, as they were often washed out when the river flooded. Her dad also built a system of ponds on the property, which attracted more wildlife.
Our docent moved to Auburn in 1989 and started raising cattle on her family’s property. She lived there until 2000 when the ranch was sold to Lloyd Harvego. When our docent learned that a piece of the property would be preserved by PLT, she jumped at the chance to spend time on the land she loves as a hiking docent, as well as share it with others. “It was the most wonderful place to grow up ever,” she said.
If you’re interested in seeing the Harvego property for yourself, check our calendar for one of our free upcoming hikes. Also, consider making a donation to PLT so that we can create an access road to what our docent calls, “the best spot on the river.”