While we've been enjoying all the snow in places like Donner Summit Canyon, Johnson Canyon and Castle Valley - it's also nice to take a break and see how get a preview of spring at lower elevations. We recommend our colleagues at the Bear Yuba Land Trust's Independence Trail, just outside of Nevada City.
The Independence Trail is little over an hour away from Truckee, and is a great hike this time of year. Following the route of a gold rush era flume along the South Yuba River, the trail stretches out about 2 miles one way along the river canyon wall, gaining little altitude on the way up. The walk rewards visitors with beautiful views of the granite boulder-strewn Yuba River below, a tunnel blasted through the mountain for mining, and a mixed conifer and hardwood forest. As spring goes on ferns and wildflowers will start to pop up along the trail.
The path passes under a large boulder and has several nice boardwalk and bridge sections.
A little over a mile in, two picnic sites are set next to seasonal streams feeding into the Yuba, making for a great place to rest and take in the scenery. You'll also have the opportunity to take a sidetrip down to the River along Excelsior Ditch Camp Road. Be aware of poison oak at these altitudes.
Need to Know:
The trailhead is on Highway 49 north of Nevada City (take 80 West to 20 West from Truckee to Nevada City). Look for signs for the trailhead about 6.25 miles outside of town.
The trail is wheelchair accessible for the first stretch.
Dogs must be on a leash, no bicycles.