Earth Day: Gold Country with Toyota

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

April 22nd: The day we celebrate Mother Earth and encourage all to be friendlier to the environment. Something we should continuously do throughout the year, but it’s terrific we have a day that reminds all around the world to their part—whether it’s cleaning, recycling, walking, biking, taking public transportation or buying local produce. It’s also a day to honor the bounty our planet provides: the trees, fruits, animals, rivers, oceans, minerals and clean air. Everything we need to protect to plan a brighter future for our planet.

I typically share local gems in San Francisco. But in honor of this year’s Earth Day I partnered with Toyota to share some of the natural beauty and riches you’ll find in the Sierra foothills, an area commonly known as Gold Country. After all, this region is what made SF so enticing back in 1849 and the fame continues to this day. And did you know that the first Earth Day was proposed in SF in 1969? Fun fact I came across.

For our weekend up to Gold Country, my friends and I drove up in the comfort of a new (and fuel-efficient) 2016 Prius—the perfect car for city living and these types of getaways. Gold Country today is known for its historic towns, wineries, remnants of the old mining industry and plenty of outdoor activities. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you do. It’s a beautiful region and a picturesque drive. Here are some of my favorite areas and highlights from the trip.

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

In the town of Camino is Apple Hill, a lovely locale filled with apple and fruit farms, bake shops, wineries, and Christmas tree farms. It is open year-round and worthy of a visit before hitting highway 49. Apple season is in the fall, but varieties are available throughout the year. Pumpkin patches follow and Christmas trees are available during the holidays. A must-stop are the bakeshops for fresh apple pies and apple donuts.

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Along highway 49 you’ll pass plenty more farms and wineries and will then enter historic Amador City. The tiny town includes a hotel, several antique shops and a couple of eateries. A quick drive gets you to the next major town of Sutter Creek, but I recommend the hour-long hike along the water path. You’ll cut through the vast hills passing huge oaks, grazing cows and horses along the way. Be prepared to take off your shoes or get them wet, as the creek flows onto the path in several places.

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

In Sutter Creek there is lots to see and do here. Wander around, have a bite, sip some  wine and shop. Again remembering this area’s rich history for gold mining and treasure finding, a great spot to visit is the Knight Foundry. Located a block from the main strip, this is the last remaining water-powered foundry and machine shop in the U.S. All the tools and machinery needed to make mining possible were produced here. The interior of the buildings is currently closed to the public but you can still visit the facades and see some of the equipment just by the roadside. You can also get a sneak peek of the inside through smalls cracks in the doors and windows.

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

And a further drive down and you’ll arrive in the village of Volcano. There are a number of historic Gold Rush-era landmarks to see here and nearby is the Black Chasm Cavern where you can explore the natural beauty forming within the Earth’s surface below. My favorite part of Volcano is Daffodil Hill which is open for a few weeks only between March and April. Hundreds of thousands daffodils bloom and gorgeous peacocks roam freely around the property this time of the year.

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Earth Day in Gold Country with Toyota / Spotted SF

Spring to fall are the ideal times to plan a visit to Gold Country and there’s also an annual holiday market at the end of the year. There’s so much beauty to see and the region is within a short two-hour drive from San Francisco.

For additional gems in Amador City and Sutter Creek, check out these posts here and here.

Thank you to Toyota and my dear friends who made this trip possible. Happy Earth Day everyone!

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Toyota, who solely provided the use of a vehicle for the weekend. All opinions are my own. For more details about Toyota and the 2016 Prius, visit their site.

*All images by me, Leslie.