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March 5, 2008
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A world in green


A couple weekends ago, when it seemed as though the rain would never stop, my husband and I decided to get out of the house and go for a hike.

After a robust breakfast of wild mushroom omelets and fried potatoes, we set off to Purdon Crossing wearing rain proof pants and jackets.

The South Yuba River roared in the downpour, crashing swollen and muddy over smooth boulders.

That day, the South Yuba Trail, from Purdon Crossing to Edwards Crossing was ours alone.

The four-and-a-half mile section of trail is part of a 20- mile trail system that stretches along the river to the town of Washington. The trail crosses Bureau of Land Management, state park and private properties.

What makes the hike worthwhile?

"The views that you get of the river," said Russ Andris, a retired BLM natural resource specialist for the area.

"If you do it the right time of the year, you see kayakers, you see wildflowers, rattlesnakes, bear, mountain lions and coyote," Andris said. During his time on the South Yuba River, he spotted the elusive Ringtail cat three times.

The rainy months are considered by some to be the most beautiful time for exploring the wooded trail when varying textured moss and lichen stand out in brilliant shades of green.

Seasonal creeks spill down hillsides, fungi and wildflowers emerge from the forest floor, and new growth shoot from trees and shrubs.

We saw no one except a dozen or so people maneuvering colorful kayaks down dangerous-looking rapids.

Remnants of the Gold Rush can still be found along the trail. The concrete abutments of China Dam are visible from each river bank.

The trail begins and ends at two historic bridges. If you care to walk the whole trail, it's wise to park a vehicle at either end.

The Purdon Crossing Bridge was built in 1895 and is the only "half through metal truss system" left west of the Rocky Mountains, according to the Nevada County Gold Web site www.ncgold.com.

Edward's Crossing Bridge was built in 1904 and is constructed with triangular members and steel pins in a three-hinged metal arch. This historic bridge was the main access to North Bloomfield, part of what is now known as Malakoff Diggings State Historic Park, from Nevada City using the old South Yuba Turnpike Road.

"Bring a camera, either still or video and enjoy," Andris said.

How to get there

From Nevada City, Hwy. 49 to North bloomfield Road to the intersection.

Turn left at the intersection with Lake Vera Purdon Road.

Stay left on Lake Vera. Follow to the bridge and park in the signed parking area to the right of the bridge.


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The Union Updated Mar 6, 2008 03:20AM Published Mar 5, 2008 03:00AM Copyright 2008 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.