Mary West: The Day Hiker visits Sierra Discovery Trail |

Mary West: The Day Hiker visits Sierra Discovery Trail

During late winter/early spring, waterfalls are abundant in the area, including this one found on Sierra Discovery Trail.
Photo by Mary West

For a day hiker, winter at lower elevations is waterfall season. A great waterfall to get us geared up for spring hikes is on the Sierra Discovery Trail. This short interpretive trail provides a wealth of information about our history, our water shed and the flora and fauna of the area.

Enjoy the drive out Highway 20, 18 miles east of Nevada City, to Bowman Lake Road. Under the Bowman Lake Road sign, you find the sign for the Sierra Discovery Trail, sponsored by PG&E.

Follow the road around to the trail head. The parking lot has restrooms, message boards and a kiosk full of interpretive panels. Learn about Native American history and mining history in the area. One of my favorite information boards illustrates our Northern California river system.

Head out in either direction; this is a loop trail. The waterfall will get your attention but make time to see the colossal trees that call this park home. The handsome boardwalk will keep you out of the bog that is a bird watchers’ paradise. In spring these wetlands host a variety of wildflowers.

Sierra Discovery Trail is a great stop to get the kids out of the car to stretch their legs and learn and thing or two on your way up the hill. At only .9 miles, consider extending your exploration just a bit further up the road to the Omega rest stop and overlook.

The .6 mile Steephollow interpretive trail at the Omega rest stop is packed with information about how forests are managed.

You may think this is just a tourist stop to use the restroom, but a lot can be learned about forest health here. If you haven’t walked out to the observation deck overlooking the South Yuba canyon, you are missing something special. The display at the edge of the overlook defines all your eyes survey in the canyon.

If you find it crowded, continue along the path and read the information panels with similar views of the canyon as you go.

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

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