Afternoon on the Independence Trail - West, Friday,1/23/15

After our exciting morning (watching the Solatube installation -- yowza!), Jimmy and I were ready to enjoy the great outdoors.  Matt drove up from Sacramento for an afternoon hike with us on the South Yuba River, about 15 minutes from our house.  We ate lunch before we left, but packed homemade granola to "keep us going."  Back in October of 2013, Jimmy and I hiked the Independence Trail East, a most enjoyable trek.  Today, being warm and mild, seemed like a good time to give the 4-mile loop Independence West a try.

Starting out on the upper path.  Doesn't that look inviting on such a fine day?

The Independence Trail uses the old Excelsior Ditch, built 150 years ago to bring high pressure water for hydraulic mining (think gold).  The ditch tapped the So Yuba River more than two miles upstream from here and ran all the way to what is now the dam at Lake Wildwood.  I don't know how many miles this is altogether, but it's a lot. Above is the remarkable Flume 29 over Rush Creek.  I promise you we were surprised -- and impressed -- to see waterfalls and cascades!  As we neared the creek, the air temp dropped 10 or 15 degrees and we felt chilled.  We haven't had rain in over a month (and this is the third year of "exceptional drought"), but water still flowed.

Ferns lined the rocks.

Rush Creek surprised the three of us by a) being here, b) having a waterfall, and c) how cold it felt at this juncture. 

Even wheelchair accessible.

End of the line?

Some kind of old vehicle or mining junk.

The flumes and old rock work of the ditch makes the entire hike fascinating.

 Budding out in JANUARY!

 Rush Creek is fixin' to empty into the So Yuba River.

 South Yuba River.  Beautiful.

Along the trail we saw mixed hardwoods and conifers, to riparian along the river canyons.  Our trail is oriented for most of its length around Rush Creek canyon, but here we're back up in the sunshine.  Much of the trail is level, but hiking down to the river and back up via steep and rugged Jones Bar Trail left the parents gasping! 

When we finished the trail, we drove to the Hwy 49 bridge crossing of the river.  Since Matt and Jen have lived in Sacramento less than two months, this was Matt's first hike at (and indeed, his first visit to) this clear aqua-colored river and it's massive boulders, and he enjoyed all of it.  (me, too)  South Yuba River State Park stretches from Malakoff Diggins to Bridgeport.  Aren't we lucky to live so close! 

The End!

Wait!  What's next?  Road trip!


  1. Great hike, Nickie. We crossed the Yuba River on our way to Oroville, and it was quite beautiful. Looks like a place we could hike next time we visit. And Jimmie will have perfect knees by then as well! I laughed when I saw Matt's photo in jeans, remembering Jimmie's comment about how he could look like a model no matter what he was wearing. Nice that they could get above the fog for a bit with you two.


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