nature walking: the independence trail

We are so lucky to live where we do. Nevada County (that’s in CA!) is a beautiful place to grow up and raise a family, with so many things to do and see. I have lived here for most of my life, and still there are many areas of the land to which I haven’t been. We try to experience the natural splendor of our area as much as we can, and to teach our kids about the rich history of our town and its surrounding areas, all while having fun and enjoying the beauty of nature.

A few weekends ago we took a “hike” (really just a walk – the trail is very easy) along the Independence Trail just outside Nevada City, only about a 10 minute drive from our home. The trail crosses, and at times overlooks, the gorgeous South Yuba River, and the trail’s uniqueness is enhanced by the fact that it is wheelchair accessible, making it enjoyable for almost anyone.

The trail began as an abandoned miner’s ditch, previously known as the Excelsior Canal. It was built to carry water from the South Yuba river to hydraulic mining sites many miles downstream. After hydraulic mining was outlawed in 1884, the ditch was used for irrigation until 1967, when it was abandoned. In 1975 visionary naturalist, John Olmstead, spearheaded the transformation of the ditch, berm, and the wooden flumes into this local treasure now known as the Indepndence Trail.

Independence Trail

Independence Trail

Independence TrailIndependence Trail

Independence Trail

Independence Trail


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