This trail will encompass the best the county has to offer: Jaw-dropping views of sweeping valleys and the Sierra Crest, mature mixed conifer forests, historic towns, and high quality recreation.
Now in the design phase, this legacy trail will offer both single and multi-day excursions by creating a series of smaller loops and point-to-point routes. With its long distance, varied terrain, unique habitats and majestic views, the trail has the potential to become a regional and national draw.
Already considered destination hubs, the communities of Truckee in the East and sister cities Nevada City and Grass Valley in the West were recently named among 14 California Cultural Districts in a new state program dedicated to showcasing cultural diversity and unique artistic identities. The towns are known for quality lodging, boutiques, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, breweries, wineries and a thriving arts and music culture.
Improving the quality of non-motorized trails that connect the sister cities with Truckee will further draw outdoor recreationists to the region while connecting east and west sides of the county that historically seemed worlds apart.
"I see the new trail as a creation that will allow non-motorized access into an iconic, stunningly beautiful backcountry where there is currently only poor quality access — horribly eroded Jeep roads, dusty forest roads and bushwhacking rough country," said Jane Ragan of Bicyclists of Nevada County. "We're imagining riding and walking on a beautiful winding trail alongside Old Man Mountain, crystalline lakes and the wonderful world of big trees and granite."
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TAPPING INTO NATURE
Many people drive through Western Nevada County to travel to Downieville in Sierra County or Lake Tahoe. Regional trail advocates say it's time to start tapping into and capturing some of that traffic by giving outdoors people a reason to stay and play in Nevada County. Nevada City and Truckee are positioned adjacent to hundreds of acres of public forest and prime recreation lands. Close to major transportation corridors — Interstate 80 and the Reno and Sacramento airports — Nevada County is easily accessible from anywhere in the country.
"Easy access to good trails enhances our quality of life, and well-designed, interesting routes can spur economic activity by attracting visitors, as places like Moab, Utah, and even Sierra County next door have learned to their benefit," said District 5 County Supervisor Richard Anderson, who spearheaded the Pines to Mines Trail Alliance in 2015 and subsequent series of stakeholder meetings.
Currently, the alliance is made up of Bear Yuba Land Trust, Bicyclists of Nevada County, Gold Country Trails Council and Truckee Trails Foundation. A capable and committed constituency has formed around the project to seek and administer funding, create a sustainable trail alignment on the ground, provide trail building expertise, exercise land management, and perform ongoing trail maintenance and support going forward.
The group envisions a non-motorized multi-use earthen trail crossing Nevada County's most beautiful landscapes providing a rugged backcountry experience for hikers, runners, mountain bicyclists and equestrian riders. When completed, the 80-mile trail will utilize existing trail segments and approximately 14 miles of newly constructed trail.
"Think of the majestic views of the Sierra Crest from the Donner Lake Rim Trail, Castle Peak from Andesite, Old Man Mountain and the realm of granite in the Fordyce Creek and South Yuba River drainages, Bear Valley from the Pioneer Trail lookout, immense trees along the Pioneer Trail, a National Scenic Trail, bookended by town breweries and restaurants," said Jane Ragan.