Trails in Northern California

Trails in Northern California

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September 10, 2012

Pioneer Trail ~ Spaulding Lake / Grouse Ridge Trails 10-25-2012

The historic Pioneer Trail

is 25 miles long with 

   8 trailheads from 5 miles east of Nevada City

to this section that heads from Bowman Road

east to Spaulding Trail, and can be used to connect to

Grouse Ridge trails. 

Update: 10-25-2012   My visit this week found the Sierra Discovery Trail completely covered in snow!  Bowman Road was good but became one lane of slush before I reached the Yuba river bridge, so I had to turn back.  Autumn colors are great and yet, beware, hunters are out!  With proper vehicles, you can drive up there, but not sure the Pioneer Trail is well marked enough to follow.

The snow on October 25th, 2012

 It is beautiful and maintained;

kids can hike this one.

You drive along Bowman Road past the Sierra Discovery Trail parking to a small dirt turnout on the left side of the road.  Looking closely you will see this sign marking the Pioneer Trailhead.  If you get to the South Yuba River crossing, turn around and find the parking turnout. 

39°21’57.97″N, 120°21’57.21″W

Head into the woods along an easy to follow trail and it gets cooler, lush,
and in August, fruitful!
At times you can see the river canyon.

The trail does run through private property, so please be respectful and careful. 

At this point you cross Bowman Road and cross the South Yuba River bridge.

On the northeast end of the parking beside the bridge look for the trail marker. 
At this time there are red ribbons flagging the trail too.  It heads northeast, upriver alongside although not always in view of the South Yuba River.
 (Most of the trail is not rocky like this.)
Look for this signage and PG and E warning.

You wind through the forest, avoiding anything too steep by traversing the hillsides. 
Along with occasional views of the river, meadows open up semi-distant views.
Near the junction with Spaulding Trail you get an enjoyable landscape. 
 Keep in mind what time of day it is if you do this as an out and back (as I did),
because as you descend,
the sun will fade earlier than "sunset".
Then this will be your view and warning as it was mine.  I did step over day old bear scat
on my way up so I tried to hustle back before dark.  Along the way make the noise hikers know to make...talking and singing to the bears and creatures to avoid startling anyone. 
Ya, I probably scared a few people, too!
"Rocky" greeted me as I got closer to Bowman Road. 
Distance:  I hiked 5.7 miles but to connect with the junction to Grouse Ridge would be about another .25 miles each way.
Elevation Changes:  Ascent : 984    Descent: 1011  Shown on the graph below.
Difficulty:  Easy keeping in mind some parts are rocky, but no boulder scrambling is involved, no cliff hangers here.  You can make it longer day hike or a backpacking trip.  If that is the case, I might park at the bridge.
Driving Directions:
  • From I-80 take the Yuba Gap exit.  That will take you to Highway 20 toward Nevada City. 
  • Turn right on Bowman Road. 
  • Pass the Sierra Discovery Trail parking (maybe use the restrooms there). 
  • Go to the turnout at the sign I photographed at 39°21’57.97″N, 120°21’57.21″W  Again, if you get to the bridge, turn back and look for the turnout and the trail marker shown above.
   Thanks for dropping by.  Share the site if you know anyone who might enjoy it.  Your comments are appreciated.  Happy Trails!
Other articles you may be interested in:
Tahoe National Forest
 updated 10-2012

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