Winter is the best time to detect in the foothills, everything is green and the tall grass has laid down. Just staked post yesterday for another claim. Still some open land around here and it's reasonably safe. I don't need a big magazine for my gun, pretty good shot and if I miss with the first round, my bad. ATV's are limited here just as they are in other states when traveling on government land. I'm just north of Placerville and live at the 2070 ft elevation. We call the hills here "above the fog, below the snow" as we normally get a wet blanket of snow just a few times during the season. Get below 2000 and you get the fog. You just need to do some research to get some access. You can search on Google Earth and see where the grows are located, pretty easy to spot. If your basing your living requirements on your love of guns with big magazines, stay away, I really don't need to hear 30 rounds going off more than I already do on Sunday, in fact I will be pulling down the targets I found set up in the mine at my new claim. If you basing your living requirements on the beauty of an area and the resources available, you couldn't find a better place to live in my opinion but I've only been up here since 1977. Couple of good groups to hook up with, Don Robinson is out of the Auburn group and writes for ICMJ on occasion. Not being sexist but I wouldn't think you would have any problem getting access to claims in the area. California taxes are what they are. You get what you pay for. 1.25 hr drive to South Lake Tahoe and 2 hours drive from San Francisco / coast.