Mary West: The Day Hiker visits Buttermilk Bend Trail
Hike this trail in spring when you have to dodge butterflies. Take in the panoramic view of the Yuba River but don’t forget to enjoy the variety of wildflowers at your feet.
Appreciate the rock benches and well maintained trail and ignore the parking and mass of people you will share this trail with. Take the dog but make sure you have him on a leash. Enjoy the blissful suffering of a high traffic but amazing trail at its peak.
This stunningly beautiful trail used to be our little secret. I blame social media for its rise in popularity, but do it anyway.
Then after you have enjoyed the spring time version of this trail come back. Come back during the week. Come early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Come back in every season.
The sound of the river pounding forward toward the sea against sun bleached granite boulders is worth the trip. With each bend in the trail that follows the hillside a new view of the river is a gift to your eyes. If you are lucky enough to see a kayak float through the canyon, you will get some perspective of just how massive this river is.
Toward the end of the trail you find several volunteer trails down to the water. A few have small sand bars ideal to spend time on a hot summer day. At the 1.25 mile point a sign clearly marks the end of this mostly level and easy trail. There is one gentle upslope.
A few narrow sections require you to watch your step. This is where you enjoy the view for the just-as-amazing return trip.
From Interstate 80 east, take Highway 49 north to Grass Valley. Take the Highway 20 exit toward Penn Valley/Marysville. Turn right at Pleasant Valley Road. Go over the modern bridge and park in the north parking lot. The fee is $5.
Mary West is author of the book series “Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide.” The books are a collection of 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. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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