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Bear Yuba Land Trust hosts celebration of Nevada County’s many trails

Photo for The Union by Matthew Renda

The Bear Yuba Land Trust schedule of activities relating to National Trails Day

Saturday, June 1

— Spenceville Ramble — 8 a.m.-1 p.m.: Meet for carpooling at the Nevada County Government Rood Center parking lot for this less than 5-mile walk into the heart of Spenceville Wildlife Area. For more information, call 264-6740.

— Canyon Creek Trail with Hank Meals: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.. Join archeologist and beloved local trails author Hank Meals for a 7-mile full-day hike on the south side of the North Yuba River.

— Guided walk on Environs Trail with Bill Hair: 9 a.m.. This 4-mile guided walk on the new Environs Trail (part of the Tribute Trail project) will depart from the Robinson Plaza at 9 a.m. This walk will take several hours.

— Two bike rides with BONC (Bicyclists of Nevada County): 9 a.m.

1. Family Mountain Bike Ride and Clinic – Meet in the Miners Foundry parking lot in Nevada City at 9 a.m. for this one-hour, six-mile ride on Old Downieville Highway. Helmets are required.

2. Intermediate mountain bike ride on Hirschman’s trail - Meet at 9 a.m. at the trailhead just off Highway 49 on Cement Hill Road (park in the Rood Center parking lot). This five-mile round trip ride will end around 10:30 a.m. Helmets are required. At the end of the ride, Alicia Funk will offer Manzanita cider.

— Tree Walk in Downtown Nevada City with Nevada County Walkers: 9 a.m., Mary Cahill and Zeno Acton will lead a tree walk in downtown Nevada City. Meet in the Robinson Plaza at 9 a.m. The two-hour condensed tour will cater to people in wheelchairs, parents, grandparents and children. 

— Explore the Deer Creek Tribute Trail: 9:00 a.m. Join The Sierra Fund staff Amber Taxiera and Philip Armstrong on a 6-mile guided walk along the Deer Creek Tribute Trail.

— Nisenan tour: 11 a.m. and noon. Secretary Shelly Covert of the Nevada City Rancheria will lead two historic conversations in the Firehouse No. 1 Museum in Nevada City where a Nisenan exhibit is held.

— Pt. Defiance Trail with South Yuba Parks Association: 9 a.m. Start the day with this pleasant three-hour docent-led hike. The moderate-to-strenuous hike starts with a mile of uphill hiking with several switch backs then traverses downhill to Lake Englebright. Meet at the North parking lot at South Yuba River State Park. There is a $5 fee for parking in the State Park parking lot.

— Family Nature Hunt at Hirschman’s Pond with Alicia Funk: 10:30 a.m. Native plant expert Alicia Funk, author of Living Wild will lead a family friendly stroll and Natural Treasure Hunt to the pond. Along the way Alicia will identify common native plants and their uses. This trek is wheelchair accessible.

— Wheelchair accessible Independence Trail with Ana Acton, FREED: 10:30 a.m. Meet at Independence Trail, west on Highway 49. The trail developed by Naturalist John Olmsted is one of the first wheelchair accessible trails in California. Native trees, shrubs, ferns, and flowers found on the trail are typical of the South Yuba River canyon.

— Sugar Loaf Mountain with Ray Bryars of Live Healthy Nevada County: 10 a.m.-noon. Ray Bryars will lead a hike on Sugar Loaf Mountain with history and pictures from the Gold Rush era.

— Tour of Blue Point: 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Brian Bisnett will lead a tour of the historic Blue Point hydraulic mine, the Yuba Narrows Ranch newly acquired by California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Black Swan Ponds. Meet at 9 a.m. in the Lake House Restaurant parking lot, corner of Mooney Flat Road and Highway 20. Call 277-9733 for more information.

— Art in the Garden with Sierra Streams Institute: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Throughout the day, Sierra Streams Institute will hold a free public event in a one-acre native plant garden at the Grass Valley home of Brad Carter and Fred Hodgson, 21816 Rambling Road, Grass Valley. The event will feature food and drink, garden tours and sustainable gardening talks. Learn more: http://www.sierrastreams.org.

Sunday, June 2

— Trail Maintenance Day on Pioneer Trail with Tahoe National Forest: 9 a.m. Tahoe National Forest will host a Volunteer Trail Maintenance Day on the Pioneer Trail, Highway 20. Volunteers will meet at the Alpha Omega Rest Stop on Highway 20. Volunteers will remove debris from the trail, shape the trailhead and remove brush from the trail’s edge. Volunteers should wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, gloves, hats and bring water and snacks. Prepare for a day of physical labor. Contact Joe Chaves to sign up, 530-478-6158.

Crisscrossing pell-mell across the corrugated river-riven terrain of the Sierra Nevada foothills, hundreds of beaten paths weave through the Nevada County forests, ascending hillsides or running precipitously down into carved canyons, through which distinctive emerald streams rush.

The elaborate network of trails reaches all corners of the county, serving to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, while furnishing county residents access to an enviable quality of life.

“This is my first time here and it feels like paradise,” said Marius Constantine, a Berkeley resident visiting the South Yuba River for the first time.



“I’m here getting time with nature, away from all of the phones and the push notifications.”

The refrain of trails as escape from the fast-paced, hyper-connected, flashing-screen rush of the modern world was sung by many of those hiking the Hoyt’s Crossing Trail at the Highway 49 crossing of the South Yuba River State Park Thursday.




“I was in Nevada City a couple of years ago, and I happened to come down this way, and wham — it knocked me out,” said Pittsburgh resident Mark Browning. “I hiked the Independence Trail and it was absolutely beautiful as it continued alongside the mountain. It brings me to a peace.”

Whether used primarily as a reprieve from civilization, a place for meditation, a reverence for nature and its flora and fauna, or a means of strenuous exercise, the potential for excursions into the wilderness are plentiful in Nevada County.

As a means of celebrating the abundance of hiking available in the community, the Bear Yuba Land Trust, along with a diverse group public agencies, hiking clubs, bicyclists and equestrians will coordinate a bevy of activities relating to National Trails Day this Saturday.

“It’s not the first time we have (coordinated events on National Trails Day), but it is the biggest,” said Laura Brown, organizer of National Trails Day for Bear Yuba Land Trust. “This year, trail guides are organizing each individual outing. BYLT helped bring everyone together, but it’s truly a team effort and says a lot about the kind of community we live in and the things we value.”

On Saturday, guides will lead hikes, bike rides and botanical walks tailored for participants of every activity level.

“Hiking has long been an important activity here, whether for exercise or reflection,” said Bear Yuba Land Trust Executive Director Marty Coleman-Hunt. “Trails offer us a healthy, enjoyable and simple way to deepen connections to nature. It requires very little skill, mastery or investment in equipment and is available to a very wide segment of the population.”

Hank Meals, author of “The River” and one of the guides who will lead a 7-mile hike on the Canyon Creek Trail, said the moderate trail offers portals into the mixed conifer forest and a more secluded experience of a Sierra Nevada foothill river less impacted by the hydraulic mining that irrevocably scarred portions of the South Yuba River canyon.

“It’s pretty much along a contour, so it is a little up and down,” he said.

Meals said the activity of hiking, which he has been pursuing since he was a boy growing up on the Chesapeake Bay, is the perfect activity for contemplating the landscape.

“The mind works at about the same pace as the body walks,” Meals said, adding that driving a car or riding a train means the landscape rushes by too fast to be property considered. “Even a bike is a little too fast.”

The hike is on the north side of the North Yuba River and leads to the confluence of the North Yuba with Canyon Creek, a 20-mile-long tributary.

“Whenever you have a merging of the water, you get an increase in volume,” Meals said. “It leads out to this sweet little peninsula, and you get that feeling.”

Brown said participants are encouraged to bring cameras along on the hikes to catalogue their excursions, as Bear Yuba Land Trust will assemble an album and post the photos to social media.

In addition to hikes, people can choose from a number of activities, including museum tours and Native American history with local Nisenan and even a volunteer work party Sunday on the Pioneer Trail with Tahoe National Forest.

A National Trails Day headquarters will be stationed in the Robinson Plaza in downtown Nevada City, just outside the town’s Chamber of Commerce. A number of local groups will set up information booths in the plaza throughout the day and local musicians Beaucoup Chapeaux will provide live music in the afternoon.

“Folks should come down and eat some tacos with me,” Brown said.

At 1 p.m., Coleman-Hunt will welcome participants followed by guest speakers Robert Trent, the executive director of the Economic Resource Council, and Duane Strawser, Nevada City mayor and owner of Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop.

For information about National Trails Day, visit http://bylt.org or call Brown at 530-272-5994, ext. 211.

Laura Brown, who works as an outreach coordinator with the Bear Yuba Land Trust, is a frequent contributor to The Union. To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or 530-477-4239.


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