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Summertime Gold Panning in Northern California

Northern CA gold panning

Late summer is a great time to get out find your own private stream to do some gold panning. The waters are usually low, and there are an abundance of high elevation creeks that hold some really nice gold. Areas that are covered with snow for much of the year are now open, and for a few more months the high elevations are accessible to prospectors.

Now is the perfect time to get out the gold pan and start exploring!


Advantages of Summertime Gold Prospecting


In northern California, there is rich gold country from the lowest foothills to the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Prospectors can follow the weather and hit the high country during the summer months to take advantage of the nice weather.

The other great thing about late summer is that the water levels are nice and low. This is especially true during drought years, which have become all too common recently. The advantage of this is that lots of exposed bedrock is available to us during the summertime, bedrock that can hold some really good gold.

You can hike into some of California’s beautiful high country and explore the countless creeks and gulleys and find an abundance of placer gold.


Where to Go


The awesome thing about northern California is just how much gold bearing water there is in this state. Pretty much anywhere in the Sierra Nevada Mountains could potentially hold some gold. Historically, the richest mining areas stretched from Plumas County in the north down to Kern County on the southern end. Major gold rivers include the American River, Feather River, and Yuba River.

Some people also look the very rich placer mining areas in far northern California along the Klamath River. There are tons of rich mines in Siskiyou, Shasta, and Trinity Counties as well.

Also Read: The Rich Gold Mining Regions of California


Finding your own Secret Spot


Lots of people like to pan for gold along the major rivers. There are quite a few places at various campground and other public areas that are open to gold prospecting. Personally, I enjoy getting away from the crowds and looking for my own secret spot. There are literally thousands of small creeks, gulches, and dry washes throughout northern California where you can look for gold that are open and unclaimed.

The first thing you should do is research some of the historic mining areas. Try to identify historically rich waters where miners found gold. This is the general area you should start your search.

Then the fun part begins… prospecting! In my eyes, true gold prospecting is not going to the same places where everyone else goes, but to get out there and find your own area that others don’t know about.

Look for small tributaries to the gold-bearing rivers and creeks and see if you can find some gold. This might involve some hiking to get to the best places. That’s part of the fun!


Gold Pans and Gear


You can go as elaborate or as simply as you want when you are prospecting in the summertime, but all you really need is a gold pan and some simple tools to start looking for gold. It doesn’t take much to find some good gold if you are in a good area.

If you find a rich concentrate of gold, then you might want to think about packing in a sluice box or other type of mining equipment to recover more gold. If you just want to get out and travel light, a basic gold panning kit is pretty much all you need to start finding gold.

CA placer gold

A nice vial of beautiful California gold!


Going Prepared


There is some gold in very remote parts of California, and it can be tempting to go off the beaten path in search of secret spots. That is a great idea and it can lead you to some awesome prospecting locations, just make certain that you are prepared.

Summers in California are hot, even in the high country. Make sure you have lots of water and also carry a good water purifier with you whenever you are hiking in the backcountry. Let someone know where you are going. Bring plenty of snacks. A good handheld GPS unit is a good idea along with a paper map of the area. Just don’t get yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If you are at all concerned, go back to your vehicle and stay safe.


Finding some Summertime Gold


I love the warm weather that comes with the summer, so this is my favorite time to get out and do some prospecting.
There are an abundance of rich prospecting locations all throughout northern California, and you can still find an impressive amount of gold here if you put in the effort.

I recommend that you keep it simple. Put together a very simple prospecting kit and start exploring some of the waters that are nearby the famous rich gold districts that are abundant throughout the northern half of the state. You should be finding gold in no time!

Next: These 3 Huge Gold Nuggets Were Found in California

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