Mary West: Exploring the Cascade Canal Trail | TheUnion.com
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Mary West: Exploring the Cascade Canal Trail

 

Temperatures are dropping and the leaves are changing color. We day hikers can slowly come down out of the High Sierra and smell the earth closer to home. Nevada County has a few hidden gems for day hikers and one of them is the Cascade Canal Trail. This is several trails in one.

This 4.5-mile trail begins in Nevada City off Gracie Road near Banner Lava Cap Road. Parking is limited. From Interstate 80 east, take the exit for Hwy 49 towards Grass Valley. Follow CA-49 N to Gold Flat Road. Take exit 185A from CA-49 N. Turn right onto Gracie. The trail head is maybe 700 feet from the intersection with Banner Lava Cap Road.

Dogs on leash are welcome. I love how a trail keeps my memories, much like a song. When I return to a trail, I am reminded of who I was with and what I was thinking on my last visit. Maybe it’s just me, but fall hikes excite me as much as flowers in spring. Fall leaves, thick moss, tiny mushrooms — and watch out for banana slugs under foot. It is like a complete makeover of our outside world.



Much of the distance on this trail follows an NID canal, providing a flat and level surface of native soil. On my last visit, a thick layer of oak leaves carpeted the trail. The sound of even a gentle breeze was thunderous.

You can extend this trek another 3/4 of a mile or so by adding the Orene Wetherall Trail. The sign is on the left of the canal trail. This side trail is a series of switchbacks down to a nice bench with a great spot for bird watchers and nature lovers.



Mary West is author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond. West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram

Nevada County has a few hidden gems for day hikers and one of them is the Cascade Canal Trail. This is several trails in one.
Photo by Mary West
The view from the Cascade Canal Trail in Nevada City.
Photo by Mary West
The Orene Wetherall Trail is an extension of the Cascade Canal Trail and is perfect for bird watchers and nature lovers.
Photo by Mary West
The trail features a woodpecker wildlife preserve.
Photo by Mary West

 


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