To see the information about these new areas CLICK HERE.
These areas are for recreation and camping. To reserve a campsite, visit www.Recreation.PGE.com
A group of donors, PG&E representatives, and Placer Land Trust board members gathered recently at Kidd Lake in the Tahoe National Forest to dedicate both Kidd and Cascade Lakes as a conservation easement. The 248 acre property of PG&E is now under permanent protection of the Placer Land Trust. The lakes are the newest addition to the 8,400 acres across Placer county now protected.
To see the information about these new areas CLICK HERE.
These areas are for recreation and camping. To reserve a campsite, visit www.Recreation.PGE.com
Heading out for a hike always takes a bit of planning. Weather is always an issue. Hot weather puts some hikes off limits until things cool down. Trundling about all day in the sun can be a bit of a chore.
Cronan Ranch is one of those places that’s best hiked in spring or autumn. This wide open area is just four miles north of Coloma, off Highway 49. The turnoff is at Pedro Hill and it’s somewhat easy to miss. Pay attention, as it will come up on the left and if you blink, you’ll pass it. (There are two staging areas, Pedro Hill, and a larger one two miles further down on Highway 49, Magnolia Ranch Trail Head, better for horse rigs).
The area that envelops the park is formally known as Cronan Ranch Trails Park. It’s an old ranch that was bought by Michael Cronan in 1891 from the Central Pacific Railroad. It eventually ended up with the Bacchi family and was sold to El Dorado County in 2004. It’s a wonderful foothill area that is perfect for a day hike.
The 12 miles of trails wind through oaks, grasses, and open space. The main trails from the trailhead meander down to the American River and it’s not till you get to the river that there’s some respite from the sun. Summer hikes here are a bit toasty.
The trails are multi-use. Hikers, runners, mountain bikes, horses share the entire area. Etiquette on the trails is simple. Everyone gives right of way to horses, bikes give way to hikers, uphill has right of way over downhill and everyone, horses included, give way to rattlesnakes. If you do encounter a rattlesnake, stay away from it. They aren’t interested in you as long as you leave them alone, which is what is best.
The trails are relatively gentle, and most of them lead to the river. This part of the American River is absolutely worth seeing and after you hike down to it, multiple spots are great for relaxing and having a bite to eat. With the weather turning more gentle, this is one of the best times to hit these trails.
Another close-in hike is at Sly Park Lake, also known as Jenkinson Reservoir, in Pollock Pines. Take the Sly Park exit off Highway 50 and head down Sly Park Road until you get to the lake.
The lake is managed by the El Dorado Irrigation District. It’s open year round and is a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, boating, camping and picnicking. Trails generally follow the lake shore.
The 8 mile loop trail around the lake can be a bit much for very little ones. There are ups and downs but nothing is overly steep. One of the more popular hiking destinations is the waterfall at Hazel Creek. Plan on about a 2 mile out-and-back if you start at Hazel Creek Meadow. Tailor your hike for whatever time you have and if you have children with you, how old they are.
These trails are also multi-use and the same rules apply regarding who has right of way. There are two main ways to access the trails. One is through the main gate at Sly Park Road, the other is from the Bumpy Meadows Trailhead, just past the second dam on Mormon Emmigrant Trail/Iron Mt. Road. There is a fee to enter the park.
Your hike will take you through a pine, cedar and oak forest. The lake is always close by and swimming is always on the menu. The entire area is good for just about any level of trekker.
Enjoy the cooler weather and the trails at Cronan Ranch or Sly Park. Get outside!
CLICK HERE to see the original article by Charlie Ferris from the Mountain Democrat newspaper.
If you would like to read more about Cronan Ranch, especially reviews and maps, go to our LINKS tab, click on the Federal, State, Parks, Camps and Trails section, scroll down to:
Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park, BLM Guide
Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park, Coloma Valley Recreation Guide
Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Pictures
Cronan Ranch, Magnolia Equestrian Staging
Cronan Ranch, Staging, Bandana Map, Review
Cronan Ranch, South Fork American River Trail MAP
The raft was floating in a calm stretch of water somewhere between Flip-Flop rapids and Tamaroo Bar when Larry Smith paddled over in his one-person inflatable kayak.“In grade school my teacher used to say that it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the bunch,” Smith said, pulling a squirt gun from the floor of the kayak. He submerged the gun, sucked up cold American River water, and aimed it. “I’m that bad apple.”
The men under siege laughed and swatted at the water spray with their paddles as Larry dunked his gun for a second assault.
Despite appearances, these six men – three in the raft, three in kayaks – are not just any old river rats. They are members of Protect American River Canyon, or PARC, and they are floating the 5.3-mile section of the Middle Fork between the Old Foresthill Road bridge and Oregon Bar to scour the river and its shoreline for trash.
And if it is also a rowdy, adrenaline-filled river run, well, nobody is complaining.
“Is that a tire over there?” asked Tony DeRiggi, PARC board member and coauthor of Insider’s Guide to the American River. “Forward paddle!”
The group in the raft reached the tire lodged among some roots and photographer and PARC member Gary Hughes hauled it up.
Eric Peach, PARC chair and the second coauthor of the American River guidebook, held out his hand.
“Pass it back here Gary, we’ve got room.”
And so the back of the raft became a makeshift floating dumpster for the plastic bags, bottles, and pool inflatables the group continued to find along the river.
“We’ve been doing this all summer,” Peach said. “We’ve already pulled out bags and bags of trash.”
Bad apples, they are not.
Sierra Nevada Cleanup
Though the PARC crew has been unofficially cleaning all summer, there are two official cleanup days: one in the spring and one in the fall.
Saturday, September 16, was the fall cleanup day, not only for the American River network, but for the whole Sierra Nevada region.
Coordinated in part by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, sections of the American River were among the 66 miles of waterways cleaned in just one day. More than 900 volunteers along the American, Bear, Yuba, and other waterways hauled out six tons of trash, including a washing machine, a prom dress, and an unopened vinyl album of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
“We had over 100 volunteers on the American River,” Peach said. “We took out a ton at most, which is actually a good number. It used to be really high, but our river is getting cleaner.”
Ron Gould of the North Fork American River Alliance agreed. Gould led a 14-volunteer crew cleanup along Mineral Bar out of Colfax, and he noticed the upward trend there, too.
“It’s getting better every year, he said. “It’s nice to only get a couple hundred pounds instead of four or five hundred.”
“And this year we didn’t get any truck tires,” Gould added.
Among the 100-plus volunteers making the river cleaner are Jeanne and Larry Iverson.
“We had a great time cleaning,” said Jeanne, who holds a degree in environmental science. “I’d say 85 to 90 percent was small recyclables.”
Larry spent some of his time wrangling one of the larger items, a six-foot plastic pipe, from the muddy bank.
“I started pulling on it and when it came up I was like, ‘oh my gosh!’”
Large items like Larry’s pipe are not unusual, but according to Jeannie, it is more common for people to throw aside wrappers, plastic bottles, and cigarette butts.
“If you’re going to litter, just throw it on the side of the trail,” she requested. “The garbage on the side of the trail is easy to find.”
End of the ride
For Peach and his PARC buddies, the garbage along the river wasn’t too hard to find, either. It helped having a flotilla of maneuverable garbage collectors, even if they did occasionally stop to shoot water guns.
However, the final segment of the trip from the Pump Station rapids at mile 3.5 to Oregon Bar yielded almost no trash. Whether this was because the section was more remote or because the river really was trending toward total cleanliness was unclear.
“People are expecting beautiful and clean river canyons,” Peach said. “When people see a clean area, they’re less likely to throw out trash.”
Whatever the reason, there was no apparent trash and the class three China Bar Rapids were just ahead. From the back of the boat, and over the roar of the impending rapids, Tony could be heard yelling, “forward paddle!”
Reach reporter Michael Rohm at email@example.com.
CLICK HERE to see original article and photos in the Auburn Journal newspaper
Photo Credit: Gary Hughes
NEVADA CITY, Calif. September 21, 2017 – The Nevada Irrigation District’s (NID’s) Lower Cascade Canal is part of a canal system that was created over 100 years ago. Hikers, runners, and bikers have enjoyed use of the trail that runs along this part of the canal for generations.In April 2017 a landowner installed two gates to prevent access to the trail from the upper Gracie Road parking area to about a quarter of a mile upstream. Friends of Banner Mountain (FBM) contacted the landowner to mitigate his concerns that prompted installation of the gates, and to offer support and assistance in policing public use of the trail.
Failing to reach an amicable agreement regarding removal of the gates, FBM has reluctantly decided to file a complaint with the Nevada County court challenging the landowner’s right to exclude the public from this portion of the trail. Protecting public use of the Cascade Canal trail is consistent with FBM’s mission statement, which is: “to protect Banner Mountain and its natural and cultural resources for the benefit of residents, visitors, and future generations.”
This trail has provided benefits to the residents of Banner Mountain and other members of the public for many years, including to other canal-side property owners who regard the nearby publicly accessible trail as an important asset that enhances their property value. This is a public rights issue for those landowners and other Banner Mountain residents, and for everyone who uses this beloved trail.
FBM has received many comments and questions from members who are concerned about the new Cascade Canal trail gates, and we have provided responses to those questions below. We welcome additional questions and comments – contact information is provided below.
Why shouldn’t a canal-side landowner have the right to block access to a trail on his privately owned land, and protect himself from liability, litter, and vandalism?
Because the public has used the trail for over half a century, without challenge and without obtaining permission from landowners, we believe that the public has established a right to use the trail. The purpose of FBM’s legal challenge is to affirm that right.
Public use of the trail does not expose landowners to additional liability. California law affords protection to landowners from users of trails on a landowner’s property, as long as the landowner does not charge for access. Civil Code Section 846 immunizes the landowner from liability in those circumstances, and Section 846.1 provides reimbursement for attorney’s fees incurred in some situations. Links to download both statutes are provided here: http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civilcode/ civ-sect-846.html.
FBM members who frequently use the trail have not observed evidence of significant litter or vandalism on the Cascade Canal trail. Trail users have partnered with the Bear-Yuba Land Trust for years as volunteer stewards of the trail, picking up litter when they see it and otherwise maintaining a clean and safe environment. The Nevada County Contractor’s Association established waste receptacles at the Cascade Canal trailheads, and has kept the trailheads stocked with doggie waste bags for over 10 years now. Waste Management cleans these receptacles weekly. The vast majority of trail users are considerate and respectful of each other and of canal-side landowners, and public access to the trail has contributed to its safety and cleanliness. In any case, the infrequent poor conduct of a few persons provides no legal justification for shutting off the access for the many law-abiding users.
A publicly accessible parking area and trail are available a few hundred yards down Gracie Road and provides an alternative trailhead. Why can’t the public access that trailhead to reach the Cascade Canal trail, and avoid this litigation?
If one landowner is allowed to exclude the public, unchallenged, what is to stop others? FBM wants to prevent other property owners from establishing gates and excluding the public for other portions of the Lower Cascade Canal, which could fragment the trail and make much of the 4.7-mile trail inaccessible. In addition, for Banner Mountain residents who walk rather than drive to the trail, the narrow and rough path down Gracie Road to the alternative trailhead is unsafe and exposes pedestrians to traffic hazards. Furthermore, the alternative trail access down on Gracie Road includes a relatively steep uphill portion that is challenging for walkers in poor health or with mobility issues.
What are FBM’s reasons for working to restore full access to the Lower Cascade Canal trail?
FBM has heard from so many Banner Mountain homeowners and residents about the benefits of the Lower Cascade Canal, and we cannot allow those benefits to be lost. Walking, running or biking on the Lower Cascade Canal is an extraordinary experience – where else can you find a level, traffic-free path winding through forest alongside flowing water, and where you can regularly meet your neighbors and friends? This is an experience that has been available to Banner Mountain residents for half a century, and now this public use is threatened. Based on comments from our members, we describe below some of the benefits of the Lower Cascade Canal trail, and the reasons we are working to maintain full access to this trail:
• Studies show property values are enhanced by having ready access to public walking trails, and landowners have expressed concern that reducing access to the Lower Cascade Canal trail might diminish the value of their property. Many homeowners also feel that trail use prevents vandalism or theft from occurring since there are people using the trail daily who are vigilant in looking out for suspicious activity that might affect their neighbors.
• Trail use builds community. A recent example: two friends were walking the trail toward Gracie Rd. Unbeknownst to one walker; she had dropped her expensive glasses. As they retraced their steps to see if they could find them, a runner came by. He asked what they were looking for. When they told him what had happened, he said he had seen a pair of glasses placed on a bench on the trail. Sure enough, there they were.
• Save Our Historic Canals (SOHC) members invested years of time, from 2001 through 2016, and considerable resources to protect and enhance the Lower Cascade Canal trail. SOHC worked with NID to maintain flows in the Cascade Canal, and on other projects such as cleanup efforts, installation of milemarkers, and securing recreational easements from canal-side landowners. The extensive efforts of SOHC, which recently dissolved as an independent non-profit organization and is now a committee of FBM, were focused on the public benefits provided by this historical canal and trail. These efforts would be wasted if the trail eventually becomes fragmented and inaccessible to the public.
• Cities and counties across the country are spending thousands of dollars to build public trails because they recognize the healthy recreation opportunities provided by trails in promoting physical activity to improve fitness and mental health (see http://www.americantrails.org/resources/benefits/index.html for more information about the many benefits of trails). Here our community has an existing beautiful trail that is much loved and used, and which should remain as a publicly accessible resource.
What are the FBM’s chances of success with this litigation?
FBM believes we have an excellent chance of prevailing with this challenge. FBM has engaged the services of Haley & Bilheimer, a local law firm with considerable experience in addressing similar attempts to block public trails. One such case, involving NID’s Rattlesnake Ditch off Burma Road, went all the way to the Court of Appeal in Sacramento and resulted in a published decision in favor of public access to the trail. A copy of the decision, Friends of the Trails v. Blasius (2000) 78 Cal.App. 4th 810, 93 Cal.Rptr.2d 393, which sets out the legal principles involved, can be downloaded from this link: //scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=11405914244229790095&q=friendsd+of+the+trails+v+blasius&hl=en&as_sdt=2006
Haley & Bilheimer also recently settled another similar case involving NID’s Snow Mountain Canal. The person who had tried to block the trail has removed the gates.
How can I assist with the effort to restore public access to the Cascade Canal Trail?
You can contribute funds to FBM to support the legal challenge and our mission protect Banner Mountain and its natural and cultural resources for the benefit of residents, visitors, and future generations. FBM has accumulated a little less than half of the funding we anticipate will be required to sustain a legal effort that is likely to take more than a year. FBM is a 501(c)(3) organization and contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowable by law.
You can also help us find people who used the trail before 1972, which is when a state law was enacted that greatly limited prescriptive easements. FBM has gathered statements from numerous local residents who walked, biked, fished and otherwise used the trail before 1972, but the more witnesses we have the better our chance of success in this litigation. If you or someone you know used the trail before 1972, please contact us at the FBM link below.
If you are interested in getting more involved, we welcome your participation. Please contact us if you want to become engaged with FBM efforts to protect public access to the Lower Cascade Canal.
To contact FBM and for more information about our organization please see our webpage: http://bannermountain.org/
Photo Credit: Friends of Banner Mountain
CLICK HERE to see the original article and photo in YubaNet.net news.
From Pacific Crest Trail news: I’m thrilled to announce that a new section of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierra Buttes, built over the last four summers, is now open. This 6.5-mile section of trail takes PCT hikers and horseback riders past beautiful lakes and it has great camping. Plus, it avoids a long-standing road walk and gets you further away from vehicle noises.
I was out there walking the new trail yesterday and it really hit me how much of an accomplishment opening this segment is. For many of us who worked hard on this project, it’s an amazing feeling to officially be welcoming people to this new segment of trail. We did it!
Opening the new PCT in the Sierra Buttes has been nearly a decade in the making
This project really started in the summer of 2008, not long after I began working for the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Mike Dawson, PCTA’s director of trail operations, told me about this section of the PCT in the Tahoe National Forest. Yuba River Ranger District Public Services Staff Officer Joe Chavez, a passionate trails manager, had concerns about various user conflicts in the area—some legal and some illegal. Mike and I committed to spending time with Joe and other Tahoe National Forest staff to consider this section of trail and evaluate how to solve the problems. We spent two and a half days studying maps and conducting field work with the agency staff, and we all felt this section of trail warranted a deeper analysis.
Download the Map HERE. In 2009, the Tahoe National Forest and the PCTA began an Optimal Location Review (OLR) to take a careful look at a 16-mile stretch of the PCT from the Sierra Buttes north to the A-Tree, a prominent road/trail junction. An OLR is joint study undertaken by the Forest Service and the PCTA before relocating a section of the trail. The objective of this OLR was to determine whether the PCT was in its best location or if there was another alignment that would offer a superior experience.
That summer, Joe Chavez and David Michael of the Forest Service and I spent many hours together pushing through brush, traversing ridges and hiking through areas to determine whether other routes for the PCT existed and were better suited for the experience. We determined the PCT experience in the original location was degraded for several reasons, including conflicts with other recreation groups and road walks. We identified the new route during this intense field work and were sure that it would provide a superior experience for future PCT users.
Of the 16 miles we studied, we agreed that realigning a 6.5-mile section of the PCT would solve the problems. That required that we build 3.9 miles of new trail and connect the PCT to 2.6 miles of existing trail.
Four years of hard, hard work to build 3.9 miles of trail
In 2014, the PCTA supervised an American Conservation Experience (ACE) crew and broke ground on the new section of trail. Each year since we managed to build one-half to three quarters mile of new trail. The terrain is rocky, steep, and downright rough to work in. And we build the PCT to a very high standard compared to some other trails. Each new piece of trail tread was hard work.
This year, we made a massive push on the project. With the combined efforts of the PCTA, ACE crews, led by our Technical Advisors Connor Swift and Tyler Lau, a Tahoe National Forest trail crew, and the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, we finished the southern section of the trail from Pack Saddle Campground south to the existing PCT alignment.
The new PCT in the Sierra Buttes is simply fantastic
The new PCT route travels north of the Sierra Buttes and swings down from the ridge to Tamarack Lakes. The upper lake will provide a beautiful location for PCT users to refill water and camp for the night. Vehicle access to the upper lake will be blocked, providing a newly quiet place to visit. The trail will then travel past Pack Saddle campground, which provide more water access and facilities.
The newly built 3.9-mile section of the PCT up to Tamarack Lakes is sure to be a popular day hike and horseback ride. Of note: there is one section between Upper and Lower Tamarack Lakes that requires some technical rock work. We plan to complete that next year. Meanwhile, there is a clear and easy walk around using a dirt road below Lower Tamarack Lake that provides a continuous path, which many people already are using. This new section, including the temporary route below Lower Tamarack Lake, will be clearly signed for people to follow.
Heading north from Pack Saddle Campground, hikers and equestrians will use the old Deer Lake trail, which is now officially the PCT, and this is a continuous path that ties back to the PCT above and just north of Deer Lake. This 2.6-mile northern portion of the project still needs some improvements. Short sections need to be realigned, we need to lower the grade to PCT standards, and we need to improve switchbacks and drainage features to make the trail more durable and sustainable. We will be tackling this work in the coming year. If you are interested in being a part of this project, PCTA will be hosting volunteer work parties in 2018.
It takes a community to build and protect the PCT
As this is now a continuous path, we are excited to be opening it up for hikers, horseback riders and PCT enthusiasts to enjoy. It could not have been accomplished without the dedication of PCTA volunteers, staff, our Forest Service partners, and all the other partners and volunteers who gave their time, energy and hard work to making the new trail a reality.
We’d also like to extend our community’s gratitude to the donors who made this work possible. Thank you to all of the PCTA members and donors, the National Forest Foundation for a large grant, Wells Fargo, the U.S. Forest Service for continued funding of the trail and to all others who pitched in their dollars.
So, head out and enjoy the newest section of the PCT! Download a map of the new segment.
CLICK HERE to see the original article and the photos from the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
Author: Justin Kooyman
Justin Kooyman is PCTA’s Northern Sierra Regional Representative. He's in charge of the PCT from the northern boundary of Yosemite National Park north approximately 450 miles to Burney Falls State Park. Justin partners with seven National Forests, one National Park and one CA State Park in the maintenance and management of the PCT. His regional office is located in Portola, CA. When not working, Justin can be found exploring the Northern Sierras or looking for uncommon birds in Plumas County.
From Mary West's article in the Auburn Journal today: "The Mount Judah Loop Trail is why I am a day hiker. The five mile moderate hike is everything I love about hiking. I love the magnificent views, the profusion of wildflowers, not to mention the snow in August. The elevation climb starts at 7,050 feet and climbs 1,150 feet from there. From the top of the ridge you have magnificent views of Donner Lake into Truckee, Mount Lincoln, Anderson Ridge, Anderson Peak, Tinker Knob, and beyond.
My dog Stella can stretch her legs and greet many other happy pups with their people enjoying this portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.
It’s well worth the hour drive up Interstate 80 heading east to the Soda Springs exit. Stay right off the freeway up Donner Pass Road. Pass Sugar Bowl Road and a couple hundred yards past the Sugar Bowl parking area you will see a small cluster of buildings that was the Sugar Bowl Academy. Turn right in the parking area and travel to the right down the narrow road that leads to the trailhead and off road parking. At the trailhead a map with several local trails and landmarks will begin your day hike. In the bottom right of the map you will find the Mount Judah Loop Trail.
The start of the trail is decomposed granite and is nearly overwhelmed with lush green vegetation in a variety of rich greens, topped with red, orange, pink, purple, yellow, and white flowers. The climb begins quickly up switchbacks of granite steps and is exposed to the sun in many areas. The trail does level out in a forest of pines, aspen, and alder overlooking Lake Mary. I expected to see plenty of Mule Ear in bloom but I was thrilled to see so much more. Finding patches of snow was a great surprise.
A mile into the hike there is a sign marking the intersection of Donner Pass Trail and Mount Judah Loop Trail; follow the Mount Judah Loop Trail. Another sign still further in will send you to the right to continue the Loop to the peak.
You will know when you reach the peak. The wind comes from every direction, taking an easy 10 degrees off the valley temperatures depending on the time of day you go. After taking a seat on one of the rocks strewn about the top of Mount Judah, enjoying a snack, and taking several panoramic pictures, we made our descent.
This trail has become quite popular, and dogs are welcome on the trail, but we still had the peak to ourselves. The direct sun along the peak may require another application of sun block. A hat and sunglasses are also advisable. The loose granite also makes walking sticks helpful.
The hike makes its way down the mountain side and wanders through forest and lush greenery once again before you come to the end of the loop at the first intersection that returns you to the granite steps toward the trailhead.
Day hiking is like a great short story; you want to read it in one setting, but you never want it to end.
Photo credits: Mary West
Mary West is a retired radio personality and news reporter with a longtime love of the outdoors, sharing her favorite day hikes in Placer, Nevada, El Dorado and Yuba Counties. Learn more about local trails by following Mary on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
The last steps to the summit of Castle Peak, the 9,103-foot conical mountain in Tahoe National Forest not far from Donner Pass, involve a short scramble over a series of volcanic crags. You emerge on a small perch overlooking the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada, some of California’s greatest recreation lands.
To the north are more rocky peaks that give way to green valleys and shape the Pacific Crest Trail. To the west is a swath of 50 miles that extends from the high Sierra crest downslope to the South Yuba River. You’re sitting atop the crown jewel of Northern California’s high country.
All around is Nevada County.
The slopes here, which flank Grass Valley and Nevada City and run up the hill, as we say, to the high country north of Truckee and Tahoe, have a historic feel. After all, not long ago they were prospected and panned during the gold rush era. Today, they represent one of the state’s best outdoor playgrounds.
You don’t have to look far to discover some of Northern California’s most rewarding day hikes and burly, brand-new mountain bike trails. Paddlers and boaters have their pick of the pristine Donner and Independence lakes. And modest development in the area means private campsites and funky lodging options abound.
From atop Castle Peak, you can see Highway 20 cutting across the landscape, from Nevada City east to Interstate 80 near Truckee, like an artery of access. And yet, if you peer down from your perch to the I-80 corridor, you’ll see one car after another — 26,000 per day, according to Caltrans — sail right on past, en route to north Tahoe and Reno.
Highway 20 provides the launch point for the Pioneer Trail — some of the best mountain biking in California. From the Omega Overlook (with a view of the South Yuba Canyon), the route extends 24 miles one-way to Five Mile House. Like so many sites in Nevada County, it captures the area’s rich history. Gold seekers originally established this route in the 1850s.
Another former gold-mining route is the South Yuba Independence Trail. This trail runs along the gorgeous South Yuba River, with easy access at a bridge and hairpin turn along Highway 49 seven miles out of Nevada City. It’s gorgeous right from the parking lot. Or you can walk as far as 4.5 miles out and back. Most visitors walk a mile or two, find a swimming pool and wade out to cool off.
The Spenceville Wildlife Area in the foothills near Smartville is another place I find myself going back to, again and again. For hiking, wildlife watching and exploring, the best access point is the old (and closed to vehicles) wood bridge at Dry Creek on Spenceville Road. This marks the start of a hike along a creek corridor chock full of wild turkeys and deer in the fall, plus a pretty stream and a surprise waterfall at a small spring.
From miles around you can look up through the trees and spot Castle Peak, rising above, anchoring this vast scope of land. Whether you’re sitting at its summit or trundling across the land below, it’s not hard to imagine what is possible here, and how these adventures can transform your life.
Exploring: Carpenter Valley
A few miles north of Donner Lake as the crow flies, behind a subdivision, a jeep trail heading toward the Sierra Crest plunges into a dense forest of pines and firs. Threading granite boulders that were stranded 10,000 years ago by melting glaciers, the trail leads to an expanse of golden grasses and a slow winding creek. Migrating birds flit through willows, and the primordial calls of sandhill cranes crack the stillness.
This is Carpenter Valley, a long-fenced-off landscape that has recently — and for the first time ever — been opened to the public. There are plenty of meadows in the western Sierra, but not many of them remain this pristine, having been plated with homes or foraged by cattle and sheep.
This summer, a 1,317-acre parcel of the valley’s lower section, long held by three families as a private retreat, was purchased for $10 million by San Francisco’s Northern Sierra Partnership, the Nature Conservancy and the Truckee Donner Land Trust. “The Lower Carpenter Valley is a little bit of heaven,” says Lucy Blake, president of the Northern Sierra Partnership, a San Francisco nonprofit group working to preserve lands north of Lake Tahoe.
The valley links a constellation of nearby protected areas, including Webber and Independence lakes, Perazzo Meadows and Webber Falls — all of which are clustered west of Highway 89 between Truckee and the Sierra Valley. Buying it is part of the Partnership’s broader mission to dissolve a checkerboard of parcels stamped on the mountains in the 1860s during construction of the transcontinental railroad.
“It’s amazing to see the landscape come back together again,” Blake says.
Twice a week this fall, through the end of October, as well as next spring and summer, trained docents are leading hikers on a 5-mile route along the North Fork of Prosser Creek in the valley. The apex of the tour is a natural spring at the flank of Carpenter Ridge that produces startling gardens of hillside color.
The valley is a haven for migrating birds, including willow flycatchers, of which only 200 pairs remain in California, says Helen Loffland, a meadows species specialist at the Institute for Bird Populations. “They perch on the tallest branches of the willows, and throw their heads back when they sing; their white chins look like cotton balls.”
Book a Truckee Donner Land Trust guided tour of Lower Carpenter Valley at http://tinyurl.com/yatwnvqo.
— Laura Read
Hiking: Castle Peak
The name says it all: the 9,104-foot crag is a treeless fortress fronted by rock turrets.
From the summit of Castle Peak, on days with crystalline clarity, you can get glimpse of Lake Tahoe 20 miles southeast. Turn around and you may be able to pick out Lassen Peak, far to the north.
The moderate, 7-mile-round-trip trek up Castle Peak is a popular one in midsummer, but as fall approaches, you can often have it to yourself — particularly on weekdays. To find the trailhead, exit north off of I-80 at Boreal/Castle Peak and look to your right.
The hike starts easy, from an old jeep road, then traces a ridgeline toward the backside of the peak, but the end is grueling: a 1,200-foot elevation gain in the final mile and a half. That last leg includes a stretch of switchbacks, which allows you to get into rhythm, through rock and scree. You then circle around the back of the mountaintop, and make the scramble on small crags to the summit pinnacle.
— Tom Stienstra
Mountain Biking: the Hoot Trail (Photo by Mason Trinca, Special To The Chronicle: Jeremy Benson rides down the Hoot Trail near Nevada City.)
Last spring, when trail builders finished constructing Nevada City’s new Hoot Trail, a 1.4-mile multiuse path featuring 438 feet of curves and banked turns, mountain bikers flocked to the area, further cementing Nevada County as a destination for the growing sport. (Note: this trail is multi-use and please be aware of other users.) The trail-building organization Bicyclists of Nevada County estimates that the trail sees roughly 50 to 100 riders a day, making it the most popular ride in the area.
Located 5 miles from downtown Nevada City off Highway 20, the Hoot is part of an exceptional and growing network of trails that also includes the 3-mile twisting downhill of Scott’s Flat Trail, the beginner-friendly rolling Pioneer Trail that parallels the highway, and the more technical Miner’s Trail and Taxi Cab, which descend precipitously into town. With more offerings bringing more grinders to town, no longer is the sport confined to the bike shop.
“Nevada City has long been a mountain bike destination, but recently, a growing mountain bike culture and community have taken it to a whole new level,” says Truckee mountain biker Jeremy Benson, author of a new guidebook, “Mountain Bike Tahoe.” “Not only is the Hoot Trail ridiculously fun, but it’s perfectly situated to link up with other nearby trails to create any length ride you want.”
Don’t have a bike? You can rent a full-suspension mountain bike — and get maps to the local trails — from the Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop in downtown. From $65 a day; www.tourofnevadacity.com
— Megan Michelson
Camping: Peter Grubb Hut
In 1937, the Sierra Club named its new Donner Pass hikers hut after a teenager who had scrambled all over the Sierra studying glaciers, counting bighorn sheep and skiing the untamed cirques and meadows.
Today the Peter Grubb Hut, tucked in a valley beneath Castle Peak, is one of the club’s most popular daytime and overnight destinations. It is one of four similar structures built by Sierra Club volunteers more than 50 years ago to support multiday backcountry trips between Castle Pass and Desolation Wilderness west of Lake Tahoe. The northern three huts — Peter Grubb, Benson and Bradley — are a day’s hike or cross-country ski apart. The fourth is 20 miles south of the Bradley Hut across rugged terrain.
The 3-mile route to the Peter Grubb Hut traverses the 7,880-foot-elevation Castle Pass. The A-frame cabin resembles a supersize gnome house. Its main floor dips into the ground, and an exterior ladder reaches to a second-story entrance. Inside you’ll find mattresses, wood stoves and enough space for 15 people.
While rates are cheap ($20/night by reservation only), responsibilities are high. Users are the caretakers, and volunteers stock firewood in the fall.
For reservations, call (530) 426-3632 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
— Laura Read
Tom Stienstra is The San Francisco Chronicle’s outdoor writer. He is the author of “Moon California Hiking.” E-mail: email@example.com Twitter: @StienstraTom
CLICK HERE to see all the photos and read the original article by By Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper published on September 17, 2017
Summer vacations are over. Kids are back in school. Nights are getting cooler. But that doesn't mean it's the end of warm weather outdoor fun for you and your dog!
September and October can still hold wonderful opportunities for outdoor adventures.
A favorite for many dogs is anything to do with water.
This is especially true for "water dogs" like Newfoundlands, Portuguese and Spanish water dogs, Irish and American water spaniels, and all the members of the retriever family — although my Joey is a peculiar exception to the rule.
He loves standing in the water, but that's as far as he goes. I can almost hear him saying, "Swimming is fine for those other golden retrievers, but I'm not gonna do it."
Even after this brutally hot summer, last winter's rainstorms left an abundance of water in our rivers, creeks and lakes — and now's the perfect time to enjoy them, after the crowds have departed and the snow melt waters have warmed.
This month, I'll journey into the Sierra to point out some dog-friendly alpine lakes and hiking trails; in my October column, I'll be taking you and your canine companion to a few nearby low-elevation lakes and rivers.
Before you head out, pick up some forest trail maps at the Tahoe National Forest headquarters on Coyote Street.
You can get more detailed directions and trail facts on Internet sites like alltrails.com and trails.com; you can also find a great overview of and links to hiking trails in Nevada County at gonevadacounty.com. (ADD to this list the nonprofit Mother Lode Trails, over 200 reviews of our local trails, and Bear Yuba Land Trust's Trail Portal HERE.)
What follows isn't exhaustive by any means. It's just a Joan's-eye-view of a few high-country lakeland hikes off Highway 20 and Interstate 80 to explore with your furry pal.
Lake Spaulding is one of the closest, up Highway 20 off Bowman Lake Road.
Once you crest the hill beyond the bridge over Lake Spaulding, you can stop at any number of places and easily hike back to the lake.
This quiet edge of the reservoir adjacent to the powerhouse attracts far fewer visitors than the campground, and features wide sweeps of granite boulders that march down to the shoreline.
Travelling north on Bowman Lake Road about 14 miles, on what goes from asphalt to gravel and then progresses from well-maintained to teeth-chatteringly rutted, you'll arrive at the exquisite Grouse Ridge area, known as "The Land of 100 Lakes."
This is true water-dog heaven, featuring one alpine lake after another, most of which are completely pristine and undeveloped.
Often crowded on weekends, during the week you may find yourself alone with your pup on the wildflower-bordered trails that curl through unspoiled forests, magnificent granite outcroppings, and up steep grades covered in scree and loose shale.
One of the prettiest is the Round Lake Trail, which passes Carr and Feeley lakes, Island Lake, Long Lake and Milk Lake.
For a longer hike, take the Crooked Lakes Trail spur and you'll pass at least 15 unnamed lakes on your way to Culbertson and Penner lakes. Since the elevations here range from 6,800 to over 7,000 feet, bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
You could also try the trail to the Lola Montez Lakes, which takes off from the north side of Interstate 80 near Soda Springs.
This 6.5 mile round-trip hike can be challenging in spots, but is fine for novice hikers (and novice dogs). You may end up with wet feet where the trail crosses Castle Creek, so take an extra pair of socks.
Our last trek is to another back-country area that makes for a great day hike.
From the Highway 20 intersection with I-80, double back onto westbound I-80 and take the Yuba Gap exit.
Turn onto Crystal Lake Road, then Lake Valley Road (Road 19), where your way ahead turns to dirt and gravel.
Drive four miles, passing the eye-poppingly vast 300-acre Lake Valley Reservoir, then turn left onto Road 38.
Just beyond the charming little Huysink Lake is the Salmon Lake trailhead.
All in all, about 90 minutes from Grass Valley — but the drive is worth it for the enchanting hike through lush meadows and fern-covered hillsides to Salmon Lake where you and your pup can rest and swim (but be careful of the biting catfish!), then trek onward to the three lakes of Loch Leven.
Do remember that whenever you head out for the back country, tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back, pay attention to weather forecasts, and always carry your cell phone or a GPS unit.
This is just a tiny fraction of the dozens upon dozens of lake and river hikes that traverse our beautiful Sierra mountains. Ao pack up your maps, hiking shoes, water, dog treats and trail mix, and head for the hills this fall!
For the original article by Joan Merriam in the The Union newspaper, CLICK HERE.
Photo Credit: Joan Merriam
Joan Merriam lives in Nevada County with her Golden Retriever Joey, her Maine Coon cat Indy, and the abiding spirit of her beloved Golden Retriever Casey in whose memory this column is named. You can reach Joan at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're looking for a Golden, be sure to check out Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue.
Coloma / Pilot Hill, CA posted in the Rocklin/Roseville Today news
With our enthusiasm still bubbling over from a recent hike at the beautiful Cronan Ranch, we remembered a fellow hiker that gently encouraged us to check out the nearby Magnolia Ranch Trailhead. Seeking out suggestions and following the advice from positively impassioned people rarely fails to deliver a great experience, so it was with excitement that we gladly returned along Highway 49 for a visit to the Magnolia Ranch Trailhead. We weren't disappointed!
Due to its proximity next to Cronan Ranch, we expected a similar experience. While both hikes offer lots of common terrain, we were pleasantly surprised by the diversity in scenery and overall hiking experience.
Initially heading out for an easy stroll along the 2.5 mile Gerle Loop Trail, we missed a trail marker and before long found ourselves crossing back over into Cronan Ranch as we navigated a trickling creek and forged ahead on a mostly shaded ascent toward the top of the hills. The views were stunning. Although we didn't see a single soul during this portion of the hike, there was a sense that mountain lions might have been aware of our presence. Fresh scat on top of rock formations is often a telltale sign and our cue to be on alert.
The afternoon heat had begun to kick in and gazing upon the cool waters of the American River in the distance far below helped make it an easy decision to begin our descent. Eventually, we found our way back to the Gerle Loop Trail and our weary legs enjoyed the flat and level trail. This shaded portion of the trail gently winds above the American River and we occasionally glanced down to watch and hear excited groups of rafters passing through the area.
As we descended further, a trail to the river's side beckoned and we eagerly obliged. We arrived at Greenwood Creek River Access point as seasoned kayakers made final preparations to begin the 9 mile, Class 3+ wilderness excursion. The beach also marks the ending point for beginning and casual rafters heading down from Coloma along Class I & II Rapids. The beach access was perfect for a quick stop to cool down and watch the adventure seekers enjoying the river before we called it a day.
Magnolia Ranch Trailhead, specifically the 2.5 mile Gerle Loop is an easy, mostly flat trail ideal for almost any ability. Rolling hills and bright sunshine give way to plenty of shade, river views and waterside access. For a more ambitious workout, explore The Connector Trail which ties into Cronan Ranch's network of trails.
CLICK HERE to see original article and loads of good pictures in Rocklin/Roseville Today
A rarely seen stretch of green space in Folsom will soon be open for all to enjoy along the newly constructed Johnny Cash Trail. The city of Folsom is building a 148-foot bridge across an area known as Robber's Ravine to complete the trail (see KCRA video here). The bridge will provide views 50 feet above the oak woodland, with views of Folsom Prison, the American River and the ravine below. It provides a necessary link between federal land and city land, to complete the trail that connects downtown Folsom with Folsom Lake.
The bridge was built and designed in Oregon and delivered piece-by-piece to Folsom, where it was assembled. One of the largest cranes on the west coast was called in to lift the 80,000-pound bridge into it's final spot spanning the ravine.
The trail is named after Johnny Cash ahead of the 50th anniversary of his historic concert at Folsom Prison, which happened on January 13, 1968.
When the trail finally opens on Oct. 14, the trail will be the latest addition to an extensive network of nearly 50 miles of trails throughout the region. "It is making a linkage from the historic district of Folsom all the way to Folsom Lake, where you have options to go up to Placer County and El Dorado County within our multi-jurisdictional system," Folsom parks and recreation director Robert Goss said.
The third phase of the project includes eight art pieces that will be added along the route, all a tribute to Cash and his music.
"It is something very unique and very different you are not going to find anywhere on a typical bike trail in a community," Goss said. The artwork and installation is expected to cost around $650,000. Proceeds from the opening day events will be set aside to fund the artwork.
Opening day events on Oct. 14 include a community bike ride, a 10K run and a 4.2-mile run, along with a dinner on the bridge.
For more information on the Johnny Cash Trail and upcoming events and maps, click here.
To see the original video from KCRA-News CLICK HERE.
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