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"Yuba Trails 2" by Hank Meals
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I think I can objectively say that a subscription to The Union provides all the outdoors information any western Nevada County resident would ever need.

Plus you get the TV guide, too!

But should some (un)faithful readers feel the need, the best place to stray may be Tahoe National Forest headquarters in Nevada City.

You can talk with knowledgeable TNF staff, buy maps such as the must-have official TNF map ($6) or pick up free trail guides and brochures.

And, since March, the TNF has offered books for sale. All profits fund interpretive trails, facilities, and programs on the Tahoe National Forest.

Oh, and what interesting books they are!

Here’s a look at some books which are hot off the press (published within the last year).

• “4 Wheeler’s Guide: Trails of the Tahoe National Forest.”

One of the TNF’s best sellers, the contents of this glovebox-sized guide include detailed descriptions of “the best” 20 off-highway vehicle trails in the TNF, such as the old Henness Pass Road and the Bear Valley loop trail.

Aerial photos are one thing that make this book so cool.

For example, an aerial photo west of Donner Lake shows a complete history of transportation over the Sierra: Interstate 80, old U.S. Highway 40, the abandoned Central Pacific Railroad and the Emigrant Trail.

They’re all still there!

Another aerial photo shows the axle-snapping Fordyce Creek Trail. Better than a topographic map, the panoramic photo shows how remote and rugged this trail is. It’s the site every August of a famous 4-wheel drive event, the Sierra Trek. Cost: $21.40, including tax.

• Sierra Outdoors Magazine: A Recreation Guide for the North-Central Sierra Nevada.

This is another hot seller for the TNF. I’ve gone out and bought copies of this to give away to friends. And not only because of its low cost ($7.45, including tax).

I like the book because you don’t get bogged down. It’s got a lot of information in small, easily digested portions. For example, all of the popular Grouse Ridge area (including maps and photos) is packed into four easy-to-read pages.

Retired TNF Supervisor John Skinner wrote this guide. And Skinner knows his stuff. He enlisted help from current TNF cartographer Charly Price, who made great maps, and former The Union photographer Wayde Caroll.

• “Yuba Trails 2: A Selection of Historic Hiking Trails in the Yuba River and Neighboring Watersheds.”

You won’t get bogged down in this book, either. It’s more likely you’ll have a hard time putting it down.

A San Juan Ridge couple, Hank Meals and Susan Lamela, published the first edition of “Yuba Trails” in 1993. They decided to update it together, but Susan was diagnosed with cancer in 1999, and died 8 months afterward.

Though the loss devastated him, Hank Meals pushed on and completed the updated and expanded version.

The book doesn’t just list trails, it delves deeply into this area’s fascinating history.

Ever hear of Meadow Lake? Well, in 1866 the population of this boomtown 40 miles east of Nevada City fluctuated between 3,000 and 4,000.

“At one time, it had 600 structures, including 13 hotels, two theaters, a brewery, a bank, a stock exchange, a church and several saloons.”

But gold turned out to be very difficult to extract from the dark-reddish ore. And winter snow was heavy. The average snow depth was 18 feet in the winter of 1866-67, Meals writes.

“By 1869, there were only 7 families in town … Today all that remains of the town are crushed glass and ceramic fragments.”

Tim Omarzu is a writer for The Union. He can be reached by E-mail at

Publications available at Tahoe National Forest headquarters in Nevada City.

• “4 Wheeler’s Guide: Trails of the Tahoe National Forest” $21.40

• “The Tahoe Sierra: A Natural History Guide to 112 Hikes in the Northern Sierra” $19.25

• “Mountain Biking: Northern California’s Best 100 Trails” $20.32

•”California Camping” $21.40

• “Mountain Bike: A Guide to Northern California”

• Sierra Outdoors Magazine $7.45

• “High Sierra SUV Trails” $20.32

• “Sierra Nevada Natural History: Illustrated Handbook” $19.25

• “Wildflowers of the Sierra Nevada and Central Valley” $17.11

• “Wildflowers: California” $20.32

• “Wildflowers of the Tahoe Sierra” $10.67

• “Mother Lode: A Celebration” $20.32

• “California – Wildlife Viewing Guide” $13.89

• “Animal Tracks” $7.45

• “California Fishing” $21.40

• “Yuba Trails 2” $18.18

• “Up the Lake With a Paddle” $21.40

• “Meditations of John Muir: Nature’s Temple “$12.82

• “California Dog Lover’s Companion” $23.54

(All prices include tax.)

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