#OptOutside — 8th annual Turkey Trek: Choose to get outside this Black Friday on Independence Trail | TheUnion.com

#OptOutside — 8th annual Turkey Trek: Choose to get outside this Black Friday on Independence Trail

Bear Yuba Land Trust is ready for its eighth annual "Turkey Trek" on the Independence Trail, as part of the #OptOutside movement.
Submitted photo to The Union |


WHO: Bear Yuba Land Trust, REI, 52 Hike Challenge

WHAT: #OptOutside with 8th annual Turkey Trek

WHERE: Independence Trail, Sequoya Challenge Preserve

DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate, wheelchair accessible trail

LENGTH: 2.5 miles West Trail, one way; 2.2 miles East Trail, one way

COST: Free, with raffle prizes

INFO: Register for the guided hike at http://www.bylt.org

Today is Black Friday and Bear Yuba Land Trust is challenging the community to go outside and hike a local trail instead of participating in the shopping frenzy of the mall.

A guided hike on Independence Trail today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is part of a larger national campaign of 26 co-hosted events with partners REI and 52 Hike Challenge called “OptOutside.”

It’s Bear Yuba Land Trust’s eighth annual “Turkey Trek” and the third year REI has closed its doors as part of #OptOutside, a movement that is sweeping the country as more and more individuals and organizations choose nature over commercialization.

52 Hike Challenge

In January, Bear Yuba Land Trust and Folk Trails Hiking Club teamed up to inspire hundreds of people in Nevada County to get outside on a local trail once a week in 2017 and become part of a global movement called the 52 Hike Challenge.

“This Black Friday is an opportunity for folks to get outside with friends and family and explore one of our region’s most treasured local dirt paths, the Independence Trail. I can’t think of a better way to work off Thanksgiving dinner and connect with loved ones,” said Bear Yuba Land Trust’s Community Engagement Manager Laura Petersen.

For those who didn’t pre-register, the community is encouraged to go on their own self-guided explorations anytime during the day.

Started by Karla Amador and Phillip Stinis in 2014, the 52 Hike Challenge has become a global movement inspiring individuals to step outside their comfort zone in order to hike 52 times in one year, or an average of once a week.

“We are grateful to our partners who are choosing to lead their community outdoors on Black Friday. We love the tradition of getting people outdoors in nature the day after Thanksgiving and creating a bonding experience away from the madness of holiday shopping,” said Karla Amador.

Folk Trails Hiking Club and Bear Yuba Land Trust are co-hosting a party for participants of this year’s 52 Hike Challenge in Nevada County from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at ol’ Republic Brewery, 124 Argall Way in Nevada City.

Nearly 300 people have taken the challenge locally. Those who love to hike or want to learn more about the challenge and area hiking opportunities are welcome to attend.

Finding Independence on the Trail

Located approximately six miles north of Nevada City, off Highway 49, Independence Trail attracts visitors from all over the world and is owned and managed by California State Parks and Bear Yuba Land Trust.

Founded by the late John Olmsted, the Independence Trail transformed a historic gold mining ditch into the nation’s first identified handicapped-accessible wilderness trail.

It is now one of the most popular trails in the area, contouring along wooded hillsides, passing live streams, and crossing deep gorges on restored wooden flumes that once transported water for hydraulic mining.

For decades, non-profit group, Sequoya Challenge led interpretive walks for busloads of school kids before transferring ownership of 207 acres — including sections of the Independence Trail and the Rush Creek Ramp — to Bear Yuba Land Trust.

Last fall, the ramp to Rush Creek was closed because of safety concerns regarding the structure’s stability and a fundraising campaign is underway to restore it.

History of the trail

The Independence Trail utilizes the Excelsior Ditch. Begun in 1855, the ditch was completed in 1859 at a cost of $250,000, according to historian Hank Meals.

It ran from a dam on the South Yuba (about three miles above Purdon Crossing) to Sucker Flat in Yuba County (near present-day Smartsville), a distance of about 35 miles.

Dams, ditches and flumes were an essential part of the infrastructure of hydraulic mines. Water under pressure was used to break down ancient gold-bearing gravel banks.

The resulting slurry was then run through sluice boxes where water was necessary for the recovery of gold by the gravity separation process.

The Blue Lead hydraulic mine near Sucker Flat, was once the highest producing gold mine in California, said Meals.

Bear Yuba Land Trust is a membership-supported non-profit organization dedicated to preserving forests, oak woodlands and ranchlands; building miles of public trails and providing quality educational nature programming for people of all ages and interests.

Head for the trail

How to get there: From the north end of Nevada City where Highway 49 turns west toward Downieville, go 6.25 miles on Highway 49 north.

A highway sign tells northbound travelers the Independence Trailhead is coming up. There is a parking area along the east side of Highway 49 at the trailhead, and overflow parking just around the next curve down Highway 49.

Be Prepared: Dress in layers appropriate for the weather (windbreaker, beanie, rain jacket, gloves, etc. if cold) and wear sturdy walking shoes.

Bring plenty of water and a lunch or snacks, sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses, if desired. Optional suggestions are binoculars, your favorite field guide, and a camera.

Maps will be available the day of the trek, or can be downloaded from Bear Yuba Land Trust’s online Trails Portal at http://www.bylt.org.

Those who have completed all 52 hikes of the 52 Hike Challenge, are asked to please email their completed lists to jesselocks@gmail.com or laura@bylt.org before Dec. 10 in order to receive their certificates by the Dec. 15 award ceremony.

Learn more at https://www.rei.com/opt-outside, https://www.52hikechallenge.com/ and http://www.folktrails.org/hikingclub.

Source: Bear Yuba Land Trust.

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