I used to live in Oakdale, CA on the edge of the Big Valley along Hwy. 120 back in the mid-1990s. Rough Knight was my favorite weekend panning destination. (Yes, I was still young and stupid back then.) The dirt road from Italian Bar to the claim varied in quality depending on when it was last graded. Most of the time, it was decently maintained, but a couple times it had deep gullies eroded across the way. And by deep, I mean maybe a foot or more deep and a foot or more wide. A decent 4x4 with high clearance would obviously be required to get over those! Other times, it had been freshly graded and was much more civilized.
There was a nice little parking space at the ingress point, with room enough for at least a couple of vehicles and a tent or three. In the mid-1990s, there was a trail of sorts down to the creek. Not easy to see any semblance of a trail on the ground, but there were blue streamers along the route marking the way. BE ADVISED, THIS IS A STEEP, PHYSICALLY-DEMANDING HIKE. But hey, that's what made it worth getting to: I always found at least some color in my pan, and an occasional nugget. I remember one charming elder citizen who found his first nugget downstream of me on one trip -- a nice, bright-golden pea-sized clinker. His voice shook slightly as he tried to oh-so-casually ask me to take a look and confirm if it was indeed gold. I think he was humble-bragging. (grin)
Another time, I found a tan scorpion sitting on top of the gravel in my pan! So don't forget Ma Nature's surprises out there.
Water varies with the seasons. Some days, I'd find a vigorous rushing creek with plenty of flow for a small sluice; others, a few standing pools amidst a mostly dry creek bed. Both offer their own opportunities and challenges: a dry bed means you can get at spots that would normally be under a lot of cold, fast-running water, which you can process with a small rocker box with water from the pools.