The Bureau of Land Management’s South Yuba Recreation Area begins just above Nevada City off North Bloomfield Road. Within its boundaries outside Malikoff Diggins State Park is the South Yuba Campground. 

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At the back of the parking lot near the entrance to the campground is where I found the trailhead down to the river with its spectacular hairpin turn in the river and giant thumb of a rock that interrupts the perfect view from the trail.

The national trail is about 15 miles in length with lots of elevation changes but generally down hill to the river is as far as I took it. About an 8-mile round trip.

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The wildflowers in spring were a surprise considering the many trees that shade the trail. Late spring or fall may be the best times as exposed areas can be oppressively hot and winter can be cold temps with rain and snow. The trail is rough in places with down trees and underbrush.

The sight of the river below is compelling but remember every step downhill is a step uphill to get back to the parking lot. Take more than enough water to sustain you.

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There are many spur trails and “volunteer trails” that can get you off the main trail so be aware of your surroundings.

Once at the river, the emerald pools are glorious. Rock hopping to find my perfect perch was a fun game. After finding just the right place, lunch and relaxation were in order. Watching the time, we gave ourselves time to make the return trip with plenty of daylight.

 Mary West is a regular contributor to Folsom Times. She is the author of the book series Day Hiker – Gold Country Trail Guide I, II and III (2nd edition Available on Amazon). The books are a collection of the Day Hiker columns where West shares her longtime love of the outdoors, favorite hikes in Northern California’s Gold Country and beyond.

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West was the recipient of the 2017 and 2019 CRAFT Award for Best Outdoor Column and the 2020 Craft Award for her second book in the series-Day Hiker Gold Country Trail Guide by the Outdoor Writers of California. You can follow West on Facebook and Instagram.

Mary West
Author: Mary West

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