Holidays at the Park returned to the Empire Mine State Historic Park on Friday. State Parks staff and docents, Sierra Gold Parks Foundation volunteers once again decorated the park, including the Empire Cottage. Step back in time with these photos by our photographer Penny P. Collins.

Built in 1897, this English manor-style home sits amid thirteen acres of expertly landscaped grounds that include lush lawns, a duo of sparkling fountains, a reflecting pond, a heritage rose garden, and more. Yesterday, children rolled down the grassy hills, tossed maple leaves and played games on the large lawns. Enjoyable historic period activities such as candle dipping, tin stamping Christmas ornaments and a kids area with live music, treats and games were all part of the program.

Inside the blacksmith building, volunteer docents hand forged steel candle holders, fire pokers and dinner bell triangles.

For those wanting to work off the Thanksgiving dinner and work up to leftovers, the park encompasses 856 acres of forested backcountry and fourteen miles of trails perfect for easy to moderate hiking or mountain biking. This time of the year, visitors usually can enjoy a final showing of fall color from the native oaks and big leaf maples, mushroom hunting and birdwatching. Download the iNaturalist app before hitting the trail to help inform your discoveries.