Nevada City is a charming and historic mining town in California, United States. The city is filled with incredible restaurants, vintage stores, and museums – and the breathtaking 1800’s architecture makes this city feel like a time capsule.
While Nevada City is the perfect spot for art and history lovers, outdoor enthusiasts will be happy to know that the city is surrounded by scenic views and open land for cyclists, hikers, and quad-bikers to let loose. There’s truly something for everyone in this city.
The list below includes some of the top scenic hiking trails in Nevada City. Thanks to the wonderful weather in sunny California, you’ll get to enjoy these trails nearly all year round.
Hikes in Nevada City
Whether it’s taking a peaceful scenic stroll through lush, green forestry or quad-biking through rough, mountainous dunes: Nevada City hikes offer a little bit of outdoor activity for everyone to enjoy.
Cascade Canal Trail
Cascade Canal Trail is a heavily trafficked, 8.6-mile hiking trail that offers a tranquil walk through a thinned forest. It also allows you to gaze through downtown Nevada City and spot visible landmarks in the town.
There are plenty of Douglas firs and dogwoods providing shade to cool you off during your expedition. The addition of the 3 200 feet elevation also makes it slightly more relaxed than other trails.
The trail is designed for hikers and cyclists, so there needs to be mutual respect between the two as they pass each other on the site.
The two biggest rules to utilize the trail are to keep dogs on leashes and stay on the path. This is a vast woodland area that has not fully been weeded out from all dangers, so a certain level of precaution is essential.
Trailhead: Grace Road Trailhead
Located East, from Nevada City on either Gracie or Banner Lava Cap Road. With a parking area, situated approximately 700 feet from the intersection with Banner Lava Cap Road.
Deer Creek Tribute Trail
Deer Creek Tribute Trail is a popular 7.9-mile trail that downtown Nevada City encompasses. The trail network was set out to commemorate the early contributions of the native Nisenan and Chinese people, whose rich history still dwells peacefully within the place.
The popular route begins in the urban areas of downtown Nevada City, then merges into a guided walk along the dirt road and established trees of the Tribute Trail.
This route is challenging for first-timers because of how easily you could find yourself outside the hiking area and into the rural neighborhood beside it. So planning and navigation are needed before embarking on the journey.
The trail hosts a combination of roads, sidewalk paths, open roads, and dirt trails that interchange both in and out of downtown Nevada City. There are also two beautiful suspension bridges found across Deer Creek.
The first is the Nisenan Tribute Bridge or Angkula Seo, and the second is the Chinese Bridge that tributes the early Chinese settlers in the country.
Trailhead: Miner’s Foundry
Located in downtown Nevada City, on Spring Street, and west onto Factory Street. There’s a one-lane dirt road at the end of the paved road on Wyoming Street and parallels Deer Creek. There are trail signs and a large map of the trail system to guide you as you go along.
Located at the foot of Cement Hill Road and only a mile away from downtown Nevada City, The Hirschman Trail is a 2.4 mile, wheelchair-accessible hiking track. It is the ideal place for outdoor family adventures.
The jewel of this hiking trail is the landmark Hirschman Pond, which was declared a Nevada County Historical Landmark. This was in commemoration of the pioneer miner, Leb Hirschman, and the Jewish community that settled on this site during the Gold Rush merchants of the area.
The Hirschman hiking trail provides excitement and vigor all year round. But mainly during the fall season, where the Hirschman Pond allows hikers to witness several waterfowl migrating from their summer homes to winter habitats.
The idyllic scenery of the various oak woodlands, pines, and grasslands, infused with the peaceful view of fish along the shore. The sighting of ducks, geese, and herons floating about in the pond is an experience that very few words could describe.
Trailhead: Cement Hill Road
Located on Highway 49, west toward Downieville, past the Nevada County Government Center, and right-turn into Cement Hill Road. There’s a parking area situated approximately 30 feet down the driveway.
The natural surrounds of the Hoyt Trail make for an enjoyable 4.5-mile walk, located approximately 6.9. Miles northwest of Nevada City.
The South Yuba River and the historic Hoyt Crossing are two landmarks that you are sure to encounter on this trail. Along with the Southern exposure of live oak woodland, chaparral, seasonal conifers, and the isolated location of a large swimming hole.
Hoyt Crossing Road was an early road that initially connected Nevada City with the then goldfields of Columbia and the North San Juan area. A short walk into the crossing, you will notice the Miner’s Tunnel.
There’s plenty of nature to immerse yourself in when extending your trail towards seasonal streams. These waters host riparian species such as the western spicebush and hybrids of black and yellow Oakes.
Trailhead: South Yuba River Access
Located in the north end of Nevada City, where Highway 49 turns west toward Downieville. The river is situated approximately 6.9 miles on Highway 49 north. Once you are near the river, a sign on your right points to the South Yuba River Access. A short drive past the sign, and before crossing the highway bridge, you will find a paved parking lot.
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Known to many as the site of California’s largest hydraulic mine, is the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. This historic park is an insightful wonder into the controversies of the largest hydraulic gold mining operation that took place in the mid-1800s.
The site holds more than 20 miles of scenic hiking trails that vary in degrees of difficulty. These are all worth the journey as every footpath is beautifully laid out to reveal massive cliffs carved out by mighty streams of water. As well as trees of pines, cedars, oaks, and maples, historical treasures hidden in the small towns, and rich forestry.
Six local trails are accessible on this site:
- Rim Trail
- Diggins Loop Trail
- Blair Trail
- North Bloomfield Trail
- Missouri Bar Trail
- Humbug Creek Trail
Each trail boasts its own unique feature and allows fellow enthusiasts to partake in various activities, like hiking, jogging, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. There’s plenty of space for camping and recreational activities for the entire family to enjoy.
Trailhead: North Bloomfield Road or Malakoff Campground
Make your way from downtown Nevada City, take highway 49 north to Tyler-Foote Crossing Road, and turn right into the east of Malakoff Diggins.
The woodland of the Pioneer trail takes you on a route back in time as this long-winded 25-mile track will test your depths and limits. You’ll venture out into the historical segments of this early emigrant wagon road, several historic ditches, and plenty of other primeval roadbeds.
Fellow historians are transported into the 1800s, where the historical uses of the land are apparent in the features that the trail uncovers. Such as the constructed mining areas, wagon roads, ditches for mining, logging railroads, hydroelectric facilities, and telephone lines.
The trail is vast enough to allow equestrians, hikers, joggers, cyclists, and mountain bicyclists to partake in the benefits of the rugged and challenging elevations.
Those who enjoy the tranquility of water can connect to the Spaulding Lake Trail and bask in the therapeutic scenery that nature elicits.
Trailhead: Five Mile House, Highway 20
There are a few routes to take when entering highway 20, although the trail closely follows the route of Highway 20 coming from the Five Mile House. Travel five miles east of Nevada City, to Bear Valley where the trail follows the old Tahoe-Ukiah Highway route to Bowman Lake Road.
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail
The iconic landmark of Sugarloaf Mountain forms an easily accessible track offering a 360 view of Nevada City and the distant mountains that surround the urban area.
The 30-acre preserve is a steep and heavily wooded climb up and around the mountain. However, the top is flat and allows for a great resting place where you can take in all the scenery that the mountain holds.
The trail to the top boasts a surprisingly rich exposure to flowering shrubs and wildflowers. These are found among the nicely shaded pines, oaks, and maples that keep the course relaxed as it follows you up the grade of an old, unused road.
A few of the picturesque views that you’re sure to spot along the mountain top are the Nevada County Government Center, the top of Wolf Mountain. As well as a few of the valleys and peaks found in Sierra County, and Saddleback Mountain, located above Downieville.
Trailhead: Coyote Street and North Bloomfield Road
Making your way from the town of Grass Valley, use Highway 49 north for about four miles. Turn left at the sign for Highway 49 Downieville just after passing downtown Nevada City. After a brief drive upward, turn right on Coyote Street. Drive uphill about 1/2 mile to the stop sign at Coyote Street and North Bloomfield Road.
Final Thoughts on Nevada City Hikes
Hiking in Nevada City is an experience that outdoor enthusiasts are sure to revel in as these are some of the best trails that California has to offer. The sensations, activities, and historical richness that you find on these tracks are well worth the encounter. Don’t believe us? Well, go see for yourself!