Posts Tagged ‘empire mine’

Empire Mine in Snow

Monday, February 16th, 2009

The recent series of winter storms have dropped some considerable amounts of snow on Grass Valley, and one of the best local places to go and walk in the snow has to be the Empire Mine State Historic Park. 

I arrived at the Penn Gate parking lot at about 9.30am and although it was empty (unusually so because by this time normally the parking lot is full and there are a good number of horse trailers in the trailer area) I was not the first person to enter the park that day.  Ski tracks and footprints led from the parking lot along the Hardrock trail through the six or so inches of fresh powder.

I followed the Hardrock trail first past the Pennsylvania mine buildings and then past the WYOD mine before doubling back in a loop and climbing through the WYOD mine spoil heap joining the trail leading back past the mule corral and the back of the Pennsylvania mine buildings. 

The Empire Mine State Park is an amazing recreational resource right here in Grass Valley, and the trails never lose their appeal, especially when weather events such as snow storms change the whole experience.  Only a few days ago the weather was unseasonably warm, the trails were dry and people were walking them in shorts and t shirts!

Come to the Foothills Celebration

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

The Foothills Celebration in Downtown Grass Valley on March 7th is an excellent opportunity to come and visit the gold mining town of Grass Valley, California, and sample local wines and local chef specialities prepared by Grass Valley restaurants.  

Walk the streets of downtown and drop in on local stores selling local goods and crafts, with each of the participating stores also featuring locally prepared snacks and local wines.  We’ve attended this event for a number of years now and it has never disappointed.

Plan to look at some of the streets away from the downtown area and see examples of the historic homes that are frequently found in Grass Valley (consult the Heritage Homes booklet, available from the Bookseller on Mill St, for a list of local houses worth viewing.).  Also make some time to take in the gold mining history of the area, including the Empire Mine State Historic Park, and the Northstar Mine Powerhouse and Pelton Wheel Museum. 

The event itself runs from 1pm to 4pm on March 7th, 2009.  For ticket prices and information on how to get tickets, please contact the Grass Valley Downtown Association at 530-272-8315.

Empire Mine Hiking Trails – Union Hill

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

A few days ago we did a small piece on the hiking trails from the Penn Gate entrance to the Empire Mine State Historic Park (SHP) in Grass Valley, Nevada County, California.  But there are other hiking areas in the park too, one of those being the Union Hill trail area.

This area is across the Colfax Highway from the main area of the park including the visitor center, and the best access to the trails is reached by parking right at the top of Gold Hill Drive where there is a small gravel parking area next to a fire gate (keep the gate clear at all times).  There’s a small wooden box next to the gate that may or may not contain trail maps.

A couple of things make this trail area really stand out:

  • Elevation.  The trailhead is at around 2700ft and the trails top out at around 2900ft.  Not only does this make for a more strenuous and rewarding hiking experience, it adds variety to the trails and also means that when we get snow in the foothills, this can be one of the places to experience it in Grass Valley, even if the downtown is not receiving snow.
  • Loops.  There are a number of trails in the area, and these may be combined in different ways to create a number of overall trails.  Also you cn pick your distance as it were, without having to return on the same trail you walked on the outward leg.
  • Solitude.  It never fails to amaze me how few people walk these trails.  If you want to get away from it all but don’t want to drive too far then this can be the place.  Sometimes you can walk the whole area and never see another person.
Deer are often seen in this area, and there’s a lot of rustling etc as twilight comes to this area of the park.  Animal tracks are often seen in the snow and mud, especially in the area around the powerlines that cut through the area.

Walking in Empire Mine SHP from Penn Gate

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

Now that the heat of summer is abating in California, it’s definitely time to get out on foot and enjoy some of the sights in Nevada County.  Grass Valley is lucky to have some excellent walking trails in the Empire Mine State Historic park, just to the east of the city.

There are 3 main entrances to the park:

  • Visitor center, with ample parking and access to the main exhibits in the park, including the mining museum and Bourne cottage
  • The Union Hill trail area, with parking at the end of Gold Hill Drive
  • Penn Gate, on East Empire St, which has parking for cars and a separate area for horse trailers

From Penn Gate the well maintained gravel Hardrock trail (more…)