Independence Trail – East

IMG_3790Taking the Independence Trail – East trail to where it “ends’ (at what looks like an old service road), the hike is about four to four and 1/2 miles total (out and back). You can continue past the obvious road on some unmaintained trails, but do so at your own risk – there’s lots of poison oak, but I’ve heard there are some paths that lead you to a watering hole or the river.

Why we love it: This trail is simple and beautiful + has the fun feature of lots of wooden footbridges – some quite long! Along the way you’ll be treated to glimpses of the Yuba River far below. About 1.75 miles along, there’s a really nice picnic table area just off to the right of the trail.

For the Young Ones (0-10): This trail is great for families who like to explore and have little hikers who will stay on the trail. Like the West side (see my previous post on that end of the trail here), there are “high” and “low” paths that travel together along the way. I’d recommend you keep the little ones on the low. Pay attention to the recent weather though – sometimes the “low” can get flooded or really muddy.

For the Big Kids (10+): While not a challenging hike, I do think this one is interesting enough to hold the attention of bigger kids. For those that can handle more miles, tack on the 5 miles of the Independence Trail – West trail, for a total of nearly 10 miles of hiking. IMG_E3778

Keep in Mind:

  • Last weekend there were no pesky mosquitos, but when our family did the west side in the summer there were lots. Bring repellant just in case!
  • The parking lot is easy to find by entering “Independence Trail ” into Google Maps (it’s on CA-49), and the official trailhead is for both the East and the West trails – with bathrooms!
  • There’s also an overflow parking lot just past the main lot, which has stairs that go up to the East trail.

Around the Area: Less than a mile northeast of the trailhead, you can take an exit to your right and pull into a big parking lot (on Google Maps, Yuba River swimming hole 49 bridge). Here, you have the opportunity to get out of the car, cross a pedestrian bridge, or go down stairs to the river! I bet in the summer it’s a great way to cool off!

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

Note: These photos are from a women-only hike I organized for February! Find more hikes you can join me on (both women-only and family-friendly) on my Facebook page, Family Trail Time.

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Cascade Canal Trail

IMG_3477Why we love it: It’s a great way to get out in nature on a true hike, without much difficulty. Starting at the Gracie Road trailhead, there are a few switchbacks near the beginning, but it evens out and is mostly wide and level terrain.

For the Young Ones (0-10): It may be hard to keep little ones from moving on once the trail starts running alongside the canal. I’m sure littles could spend hours throwing rocks and sticks into the water. Just be careful no one gets too close! There are also a few places you’d want to make sure younger hikers stay near the center of the trail because of drop offs, so if you have kiddos that take off, this may not be aIMG_3473 trail for you. In addition, if you get to the catwalk (See For the Big Kids, below), you can pass it until you get to a road that makes a “T” with the trail and loop around to the left, but it isn’t very clear. (When you “loop” back, you’ll see the catwalk on your left but it isn’t completely obvious you made a loop. Read the full trail description here.)

For the Big Kids (10+): This in-and-out trail is great in that you can make the hike as short as you like or as long as approximately 9 miles. Adventurous big kids will love the catwalk crossing to continue the hike at around the 1.6 mile mark. Once on the other side, turn left to continue on.

Keep in Mind:

  • Dogs on leash are allowed on the trail.
  • Enter these coordinates in Google Maps to best locate the trailhead: N39.24106 W120.99855
  • This trail is known to be accessible year-round, but with a storm the week before we were on the trail, there were parts of the trail that were muddy or a bit snowy/icy. Make sure to pay attention to weather conditions leading up to and including the day of your hike.
  • There are trail markers on the trail, but several of us thought they didn’t match up with our trackers.
  • There are no bathrooms anywhere near the trailhead. Stop at a gas station on your way if you need to!

Around the Area: The town of Nevada City is nearby and super cute to walk around.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

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February 2018 Events

Independence Trail East
Independence Trail East

In February, the month of the love, I am loving the chance to get to go hiking with family, friends, and Family Trail Time followers! Check out these things coming up next month!

February 1st: Join Hike Like a Woman and me the first 10 days of the month for the free #healthyhiker challenge! This challenge is designed to help women all become better versions of ourselves!

February 3rd: Join me and my older son (age 7) for a family-friendly hike/walk in Elk Grove. Details can be found on Facebook here. No limit on the number of people who join us!

February 11th: Join me for a women only hike on the Independence Trail – East near Nevada City, CA. Details can be found on Facebook here. Limited to the first 20 women who register/email as instructed on the Facebook event.

 

FTT pic for Feb fam 2018
Along the Whitehouse Creek Trail, part of our family-friendly hike/walk in February.

 

Sierra Discovery Trail

IMG_4529PG&E’s Sierra Discovery Trail is an interpretive loop trail that is full of educational signs describing the local plants, geology and wildlife of the area. This 0.8-mile trail is located off of Highway 20 and Bowman Lake Road near Alta, CA. Sarah’s family was camping in the Tahoe National Forest at White Cloud Campground along Highway 20 and checked out this trail during the day.

Why we love it: The Sierra Discovery Trail is a fun and easy trail for kids and dogs alike.  This trail begins at a gazebo that provides interpretive information about the area, including hydropower operations and local history.  The trail ventures through a marsh over a wooden boardwalk and continues over a bridge and through a mixed pine and fir forest along the Bear River to a scenic waterfall overlook. This trail offers an easier option by veering to the right after the bridge.

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For the Young Ones (0-10): The younger kiddos will enjoy stopping along the trail at the various river access points and checking out the signs with pictures of plants and wildlife. There are benches along the way to hang out and enjoy the scenery.

For the Big Kids (10+): Big kids will enjoy reading the interpretive signs and stopping along the river.  There are various points along the river to enjoy fishing as well.

Keep in Mind:

  • Be mindful of the changing river flows. Multiple signs are posted along the river warning of the possible rising flows.
  • There are restrooms (vault toilets) near the parking lot but not many other facilities nearby. Plan ahead and bring snacks or lunch and plenty of water.
  • This trail is at a higher elevation so it is typically covered in snow during the late fall and winter months.

Around the Area: There are many great local food options in the Nevada City and Grwaterfallass Valley area. One of our favorite eateries is Summer Thyme’s Bakery and Deli in Grass Valley. This local café has yummy sandwiches and pastries as well as a play kitchen area to keep kiddos busy.

Difficulty Level: Beginner

Guest contributor Sarah Perrin is a wife, mother of one boy and two dogs, wildlife biologist, home baker, and outdoor enthusiast who enjoys exploring the California foothills and Sierras with her family and friends.

 

Independence Trail – West

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The Independence Trail (West trail), in the Nevada City area, was a delightfully well-shaded trail for our family. However, unlike many of the hikes we take in NorCal, this one had lots of mosquitos! There are several turnouts to park at, so find the closest one and carefully make your way to the trail head.

IMG_1296Why we love it: Our medically fragile 2 year-old is too heavy to (and no longer cares to) be worn,
so when we read that (part of) this trail is touted as the first wheelchair accessible trail in the country, we had to see it for ourselves. We took the West trail to the dilapidated handicap picnic area just past the ramp that goes down to the water.

For the Young Ones (0-10): Our walking little guy loved alternating between the “high” and “low” paths on the trail. (See top photo.)

For the Big Kids (10+): While not a difficult hike, this one is interesting for all ages. I really enjoyed the many wooden footbridges. In years with more rain, it looks like there are probably several small waterfalls along the way.

Keep in Mind:

  • What I was most looking forward to on the West trail was the ramp down to the water. Unfortunately, it’s blocked right now, so proceed at your own risk. (See photos below.)
  • Bring insect repellent! We usually stop for a snack at a halfway point and if we stopped that long on this trail, we would have been the snack ourselves!
  • There is a good amount of poison oak along the trail, so make sure everyone stays on the path.

Around the Area: If you have the energy and the stamina, also check out the East trail. I’ve read there are great views and opportunities to enjoy getting into the water.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.

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Don’t be alarmed when you see this near the start of the west trail – just duck and continue!