Snaking along a little-used section of the South Yuba Trail, hikers looked down at dramatic landscapes of the South Yuba River Canyon.
Wildflowers were in full bloom along the trail’s edge, greeting hikers who followed local historian and author Hank Meals as he told the story of this place and pointed out bedrock mortars, mining sites and spellbinding views.
It’s an easy to moderate 5-plus mile hike that Meals will lead June 7, and one of 14 guided outings on local trails during the annual Celebration of Trails.
Hosted by Bear Yuba Land Trust, more than 20 local organizations, outdoor experts and trails advocates are coming together to put together the event that coincides with National Trails Day, a date meant to encourage more people to get outdoors on local trails.
“When people engage with the wonder and beauty that surrounds us in a more personal encounter, then they are more likely to take responsibility for the health of the woodlands and wildlife and feel better about themselves, our community, and even the world at large,” said Bear Yuba Land Trust Community Program Manager Melony Vance.
For four years, Vance has organized BYLT’s busy trekking calendar and this year has put together a schedule featuring 70 treks. To date, the Land Trust has built 35 miles of local trails.
“One of the main reasons people move here is to have easier access to the great outdoors. We organize outings to introduce these trails to the community so they can get out and experience nature in a safe way,” Vance said.
Awareness about the health and economic benefits of outdoor recreation and the abundance and accessibility of local trails is a big part of the event. There are outings for people of all ages and levels of mobility.
A Trails Day Headquarters will be set up at Nevada County’s Rood Center from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., with trail information, maps and trekking schedules.
Many outing leaders will meet participants at the Trails Day Headquarters. Choose from a family friendly wheelchair accessible nature hunt, numerous guided hikes in varying degrees of difficulty all over the county, bike rides for beginner, intermediate and experienced riders, a downtown tour and an equestrian ride.
Partners in this year’s trails day event include: BONC, Far West Geoscience Foundation, FREED, Friends of Spenceville, Gold Country Trails Council, Living Wild, Hank Meals, Matteo’s Public, Mendocino Tahoe Conservancy, Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, Nevada City Nisenan, Nevada County Planning Department, Nevada County Walkers, OLALA Farms, Outside Inn, Ray Bryars, Sierra Club, Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters, Sierra Streams Institute, State Parks, Tahoe National Forest, The Sierra Fund, Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop and YBONC.
“Great trails make for great communities. I believe our local trails are especially varied - we have deep canyons and mixed forests, steep creeks and big meadows, plus relics from first peoples and historic mining leftovers,” said Ellen Lapham, an avid bicyclist and member of BONC.
Lapham helped organize three mountain bike outings and a booth at the trails day headquarters. BONC collaborates with community groups to build and maintain multi-use recreation trails throughout the county. She, like many, would like to see more being done to make Nevada County an outdoor recreation destination – a “trail town.”
“We have wonderful wilderness assets as well as ‘urban’ pathways to draw people in,” she said.
Nevada City’s historic downtown will be the focus of such “urban pathways,” with two tree tours led by Arborist Zeno Acton and Native Plant Society member Roger McGehee. The all-abilities tours are open to everyone, including families and will make numerous stops along the way.
“We’re going to have two really exciting tree specialists,” said Mary Cahill, founder of Nevada County Walkers who helped organize the tours.
Walkability advocate Ray Bryars will lead a walk to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. He believes local trails are a community asset benefiting the population’s physical and mental health and gives a boost to the local economy.
“Visitors come to see Empire Mine, Bridgeport, the Yuba, etc. where they might take a nice hike to build up an appetite for a nice meal in one of our fine restaurants,” Bryars said. Besides encouraging his community to stay active, Bryars enjoys introducing family and friends to trails when they come visit and he commonly meets new friends when out walking. “We are blessed to live in such a beautiful place where local trails give us an opportunity to enjoy nature so close to home,” he said.
Trails Day Headquarters will be in the parking lot of Nevada County’s Rood Center, across from the trail head of the Hirschman Trail.
People can stop by for local trail information and maps, grab a cup of coffee and a baked good from Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters and pick up the day’s schedule.
Booths include: Bear Yuba Land Trust with manzanita cider provided by Living Wild, BONC, Nevada County Planning Department, Tahoe National Forest, YBONC and more. After an introduction by local dignitaries, a number of outings will depart on foot, bike, wheelchair and carpool from the Rood Center.