Archive for the ‘hiking’ Category

Bridgeport Car Park now a Fee Area

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Confirmed by a visit on Memorial Day, the South Yuba River State Park, Bridgeport parking area is now a fee area. $5 per car, and parking on the road is no longer permitted.

The car park next to the visitor center was full at about noon, but it felt like there were fewer people on the beach downstream from the bridge. In past years lots of people have parked on the road and the beach has been packed!

Remember, if you are heading down to Bridgeport, you’ll need $5!

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!

Seasons at Bridgeport

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Yuba River at Bridgeport

Yuba River at Bridgeport

This week we had a nice stroll on the Buttermilk Bend Trail at Bridgeport, part of the South Yuba State Park system. Each season is different at Bridgeport. In a couple of months, the Buttermilk Bend trail will be the most beautiful place to find wildflowers in Nevada County, and the flowers will bloom in waves throughout the Spring. In Summer, there’s nowhere more relaxing to spend a Summer day than at one of the swimming holes along the South Yuba River. For now, Winter at Bridgeport has its own charm. It is quiet with fewer visitors, and all you hear is the sound of the river flowing by and the gentle sound of the wind. The pools in the river are deep emerald green in the Winter light. And if you’re a dog person, you are only allowed to take dogs to Bridgeport October-April, so now is the time. Our dog loves to walk there and take a dip in the water.

So, if you’re looking for a nice place for a Winter hike, hed down to Bridgeport. It’s at a much lower elevation, so you won’t have to worry about snow making the trekking difficult! See more photographs of Bridgeport at

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.