Posts Tagged ‘union hill’

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.