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Photo of hiking trail in Nevada City and Grass Valley, in the Gold Country of Northern California

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Nevada City/Grass Valley,
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The Nevada County Hiking Club offers spring, summer, and fall hikes throughout Nevada County. Hikes vary in difficulty from easy to extremely strenuous - whatever your fitness level, there will be trails appropriate for you.

For hikers and walkers, the Grass Valley-Nevada City area offers a trail for every age and ability. Short hikes are found near town while others meander through the nearby South Yuba River canyon, and high country hikes are found in the Tahoe National Forest and Grouse Ridge Lakes Basin.

For short walks in town, try the trails in Grass Valley's Condon Park. In Nevada City, walk the Rotary Club Miners Trail along Deer Creek.

Few hikers, even those who have lived here for years, have walked all the trails or seen all the sights of the area. And each trail has a completely different flavor depending on season and weather.

Below is a listing of some of the most popular trails in the county.

Bridgeport Buttermilk Bend Trail
South Yuba River Canyon Trailhead: Off Pleasant Valley Road, upstream from Bridgeport, north side of river.
Directions: From Grass Valley, west on Hwy. 20 to Penn Valley. Right (north) on Pleasant Valley Road, 8 miles to Bridgeport.
Distance Of Hike: 1.25 miles each way. Degree of Difficulty: 3. Fairly flat except for one 50-yard upslope.
Seasons: All year.
Special Features: A favorite wildflower hike in March, April and May. offers nice views of the river canyon, access to many swimming holes. Literature available at the ranger station.

South Yuba River Independence Trail
South Yuba River Canyon Trailhead: Hwy. 49, 5.5 miles northwest of Nevada City.
Where To Park: Turnouts at and beyond trailhead. Use caution when crossing Hwy.
Distance of Hike: 2.5 miles downstream (west) and 2.5 miles upstream (east). West trail offers a 4.3 mile loop along swimming trail to Jones Bar Road, up to Excelsior Canal and back to start.
Degree of Difficulty: Both 2.5 mile sections are rated 1. West Loop: 5.
Wheelchair Accessibility: 1.5 miles in each direction of trailhead.
Seasons: All year. Can be muddy in Winter.
Historical Significance: Trail follows alignment of the Excelsior Canal, built during the Gold Rush. Gold Rush-era wooden flumes.
Special Features: Wildflower walks in Spring

Rock Creek Nature Trail
Tahoe National Forest Trailhead: off access road, 7 miles east of Nevada City.
Directions: Hwy. 20 east of Nevada City to Washington Ridge Conservation Camp Road (2 miles beyond the Five Mile House). Turn left, follow signs to access road, trailhead.
Distance of Hike: 0.8 mile loop
Degree of Difficulty: 1.
Wheelchair Accessibility: First 500 feet.
Seasons: Spring, Summer , Fall
Special Features: This interpretive trail has been used for many years in school nature study programs. Native plants and trees are identified. Brochures are available at the trailhead.

Hardrock Trail
Empire Mine State Historic Park Trailhead: Empire Mine Visitor Center.
Directions: Exit Hwy. 49 at Empire Street, drive east 1 mile to park.
Distance of Hike: 2 mile loop.
Degree of Difficulty: 2.
Seasons: Year-round.
Historical Significance: Passes many historic mining sites.
Special Features: Visitors entering through the visitor center must pay admission. Free entry is allowed by parking at the Pennsylvania Gaye equestrian staging area. This trail is the only one in the park for hikers only; no mountain bikers or equestrians are allowed. Dogs must be leashed. Open daily sunrise to sunset. Trail maps are available at park visitor center.

Union Hill Trails
Empire Mine State Historic Park Trailhead: Hwy. 174 at Empire Street.
Where To Park: Empire Street opposite Empire Court, at the Pennsylvania Gate equestrian staging area.
Directions: Exit Hwy. 49 at Empire Street, drive east one mile to park.
Distance of Hike: Approx. 5 miles of trails on Union Hill.
Degree of Difficulty: Up to 4.
Seasons: Year-round.
Historical Significance: Area is peppered with old mine sites and includes the pipeline that brought water to the mines.
Special Features: Detailed trail maps are available at the park visitor center.

South Yuba Trail
South Yuba River Canyon Trailhead: Eight miles northeast of Nevada City, off North Bloomfield Road.
Directions: Hwy. 49 to North Bloomfield Road. Drive 8 miles, past the river, follow signs to the campground and trailhead.
Distance of Hike: 7.5 miles one way
Degree of Difficulty: 7.
Seasons: Year-round.
Historical Significance: Trail passes through Gold Rush remains.
Special Features: Trail can also be accessed from Purdon Crossing. Hiking, horseback riding, picnic sites, primitive and maintained camping. Swimming, fishing, nature study.
Note: The following 4 trails are located at the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park.

Rim Trail
Trailhead: North Bloomfield Road or Malakoff Campground.
Directions: From Nevada City, Hwy. 49 north to Tyler-Foote Crossing Road, then right (east) to Malakoff Diggins.
Distance of Hike: 3 miles
Degree of Difficulty: 6.
Seasons: Year-round. Some snow in Winter.
Historical Significance: Views of the Malakoff hydraulic diggings.
Special Features: Pine and cedar forests.
Pets Must be leashed.

Diggins Loop Trail
Trailhead: Diggins Overlook, North Bloomfield Road. Parking.
Distance of Hike: 3 mile loop.
Degree of Difficulty: 3.
Seasons: Year-round. Some snow in Winter.
Historical Significance: Trail loops through what was once the largest hydraulic mining operation in the U.S.

Blair Trail
Trailhead: North Bloomfield Road near North Bloomfield.
Distance of Hike: Half-mile loop.
Degree of Difficulty: 2.
Seasons: Year-round. Some snow in Winter.
Historical Significance: The Blair pond dates to the mining era.
Special Features: Spur goes to campground, 3/4 miles. Pine and cedar forests.
No dogs, bicycles or horses.

North Bloomfield Trail
Trailhead: North Bloomfield Road, village of North Bloomfield.
Where To Park: Near the trailhead, in town.
Distance of Hike: 3/4 miles.
Degree of Difficulty: 6.
Seasons: Year-round. Some snow in Winter.
Special Features: Pine and cedar forests.

Missouri Bar Trail
Tahoe National Forest Trailhead: Located off Forest Road No. 729-3
Directions: From Nevada City, Hwy. 49 north to Tyler-Foote Crossing Road, then right (east) to Malakoff Diggins and Relief Hill Road. Follow signs.
Distance of Hike: 1.6 miles one-way. Degree of Difficulty:
6.
Seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall.
Historical Significance: Was probably used by miners in North Bloomfield's mining heyday.
Special Features: Planned trail extension will provide connection to the South Yuba River Trail. Watch for poison oak.

Osborne Hill Trails -- Empire Mine State Historic Park Trailhead: Empire Mine Visitor Center or Pennsylvania Gate.
Where To Park: Main parking lot (admission charge at gate) or opposite Empire Court )free entry for hikers).
Directions: Exit Hwy. 49 at Empire Street, drive east one mile to park.
Distance of Hike: Approx. 5 miles of connected trails.
Degree of Difficulty: Up to 6.
Seasons: Year-round.
Historical Significance: Area is dotted with old mine sites and foundations.
Special Features: Beautiful forest setting, small creek crossing. Trail maps are available at the park visitor center.

Scotts Flat Trail and Pioneer Trail
65 miles of trail on Forest Service land and some private property. Accessible from Highway 20 near one mile east of Skillman Flat. Pioneer Trail accessible also from Lone Grave Trailhead.

Pacific Crest Trail
Castle Peak area, near Donner Summit on Interstate 80. This is for hikers only, though horses are allowed in the Castle Peak direction. The trail runs from Mexico to Canada along the crest of the Sierra Nevada.

The Lola Montez Montez Lakes Trail
Starting from Soda Springs, just off Interstate 80, this walk takes you to two scenic Alpine lakes. Open to Mountain Bikes.

Emmigrant Trail
Follow the trail of the original immigrants to California. Starting off Highway 20, east of Nevada City at Lowell Hill Rd. Mostly a dirt and gravel road.

Glacier Lake Trail
Tahoe National Forest Trailhead: Grouse Ridge Lookout campground. Hike on the Grouse Ridge Trail north to Glacier Lake Trail. Where To Park: Near the campground.
Directions: From Nevada City, Hwy. 20 east to Bowman Lake Road. Turn left, proceed north 6 miles. Turn right on Grouse Ridge Road. The campground is 5.3 miles up a bumpy dirt road.
Distance of Hike: 4 miles one way.
Degree of Difficulty: 5.
Seasons: Summer, Fall.
Special Features: High Sierra meadows, forests, glacial moraine. Glacier Lake is nestled in a small red fir forest in the shadows of the Black Buttes.

Grouse Lakes Area
Tahoe National Forest Trailhead: Grouse Ridge Lookout Where To Park: Near the Grouse Ridge campground.
Directions: From Nevada City, Hwy. 20 east to Bowman Lake Road. Turn left, proceed north 6 miles. Turn right on Grouse Ridge Road. The campground is 5.3 miles up a bumpy dirt road.
Distance of Hike: Hikes range from 2 to 8 miles.
Degree of Difficulty: 3-10
Seasons: Summer, Fall Historical Significance: Some trails date to the mining days.
Special Features: High alpine environment, expansive views, many lakes, fishing, swimming, wildflowers.

Canyon Creek Trail
Tahoe National Forest Trailheads: The north trailhead is off Bowman Lake Road at Windt Point. South trailhead is at the Arctic Mine, 6.3 miles from Washington.
Where To Park: On the north, park at the windy Point Cliffs viewpoint, 3/4 miles north of the trail junction with Bowman Lake Road. On the south, park at the Arctci Mine, 3 miles via primitive road past the Golden Quartz picnic area.
Directions: From Nevada City, Hwy. 20 east to Bowman Lake Road, approx. 22 miles, then 11.9 miles north to the unmarked trailhead, or east on Hwy. 20 to Washington Road, approx. 13.3 miles, then 5.2 miles to Washington, then 6.3 miles to trailhead.
Distance of Hike: 8 miles one way. Degree of Difficulty: 10
Seasons: Summer, Fall
Special Features: Creekside hike through rugged primitive terrain.

Humbug Creek Trail
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park Trailhead: North Bloomfield Road in the state park.
Distance of Hike: 3 miles each way.
Degree of Difficulty: 6. Includes a 1,000 foot return climb out of the river canyon.
Seasons: Year-round.
Historical Significance: Malakoff was once the largest hydraulic mine in the world and its almost 8,000 foot North Bloomfield drain tunnel emptied into Humbug Creek, carrying mine tailings into the South Yuba River.
Special Features: Trail connects with the South Yuba Trail at the river. waterfalls, swimming in the Yuba. Historic relics include ditches, mine shafts, rock walls.
No pets, no mountain bikes.

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