Nevada Irrigation District moves forward with plans for Scotts Flat Reservoir trail |

Nevada Irrigation District moves forward with plans for Scotts Flat Reservoir trail

A new trail system below Scotts Flat Lake across Deer Creek, first proposed in late 2017 after a controversial decision by Nevada Irrigation District to fence off the spillway at the reservoir, has gained momentum.

The closure of the spillway, regularly used by walkers and bicyclists to cross from the Highway 20 side of the lake to the Cascade Shores side, was reversed after substantial public outcry. But the impetus to create a trail continued, with the district meeting with a number of groups such as Sierra Express Bike Team, Bear Yuba Land Trust and Bicyclists of Nevada County to discuss some of the alternatives.

The options all start at the bottom of the dam road from Pasquale Road at the start of the spillway, are a little over a mile long and have bridge options to span Deer Creek, said district Assistant General Manager Greg Jones. The trail would not be open to equestrian or motorized vehicle use.

Jones noted the trail proposals do cross some private property and the district has reached out to the owners. They are generally open to the idea of a trail, he said, although one has expressed concerns over fires.

In December, the district issued a Request for Proposals for engineering and design services for the Scotts Flat Lower Connector Trail, for an approximately 1-mile multi-purpose use trail plan. On Jan. 22, water district staff conducted a site walk with several organizations and companies that received the Request for Proposals for review; responses are due by Feb. 8.

On Tuesday, Jones provided an update of the process so far, as well as the two trail alternatives, to the Maintenance & Resource Management Committee. One of the options would stay along the south side of Deer Creek and would then cross it just above Lower Scotts Flat Lake. That option, however, is problematic due to probable maximum flood flows, Jones said.

The better option, he said, would require two bridges. The first bridge would cross the spill channel immediately downstream of the spillway and a small, secondary bridge would cross the northern hydro channel downstream from the power plant.

In both cases, the trails connect to an existing trail along Snow Mountain Ditch up to the campground.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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