Purdon Crossing to Edwards Crossing – February 1996 | TheUnion.com

Purdon Crossing to Edwards Crossing – February 1996


Difficulty level: Easy

Length: 9 miles, round trip

Map: USFS Tahoe National Forest

Do this hike year round to view the changing seasons. I’ve taken the trail to jade-green swimming holes in July, with an umbrella in February, with my wildflower guide in April and to see changing dogwood foliage in October.

A variety of habitat means a great diversity of plant life can be seen on the trail’s relatively short distance, from fiddlehead ferns and madrones to dry fields of brodiaeas to lichen-encrusted cliffs with vivid-orange dudeleya. Don’t forget your camera for a picturesque shot of the 1920s green metal Edwards Crossing bridge.

To get to the trailhead take Highway 49/20 past Nevada City to the 49 turnoff to Downieville. Stop at the Tahoe National Forest Service office at 49 and Coyote Street to pick up the inexpensive TNF map, an invaluable resource.

Turn right on North Bloomfield-Graniteville Road and snake up a mile to where it forms a T at Lake Vera-Purdon and Bloomfield roads. Turn right on Bloomfield and drive about eight miles along a ridge then descend to the South Yuba River Canyon and Edwards Crossing Bridge. Park on this side of the river; arrive early if it’s a sunny weekend day, or the parking area may be full. The trailhead is clearly marked “Purdon Crossing Trail,” behind a concrete outhouse.

Like many trails in the foothills, this one evolved from a game trail to an Indian path to a miners’ route. It rises and falls, hugging the cliff with spectacular views of the bridge, pools and opposite canyon walls. (Look for Pan’s wooden house about a mile in on the far shore – how did he build it with no discernible access road?)

The varied habitat and freshets crossing the path makes this one of the area’s best wildflower-viewing trails. From April to August masses of bush monkey flowers, wild roses, blue dicks, ookows, poppies, leopard lilies, larkspur, false Solomon seal, columbines, bleeding hearts, cat’s paw and globe Mariposa lilies abound.

After about two miles, a trail ascends to the left marked “Rock Creek/Round Mountain Trail.” I once followed it up a series of long switchbacks to Round Mountain then had to walk back along the road to my car, a 10-plus mile ordeal I wouldn’t recommend.

In the last half mile or so, the terrain flattens out, and you see glimpses of the Purdon Bridge. Look for sandy beaches with flat sunning rocks. If it’s summer, change into the bathing suit you packed, and take a dip, snooze in the sun and a long lunch before heading back.

Note: This trail is on state and private land. Respect boundary-designating signs and the “No trespassing” signs on miners’ claims on the river frontage.

This article was originally published on 10/13/1999.

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