Doncha just love April? 4/4/16

Here in NorCal, South Yuba River St Pk is a source of never-ending entertainment, a wealth of wonder and discovery.  It's a long, narrow patchwork of lands astride the river, alive with history that includes the world's longest covered bridge, a tunnel (cave), toll crossings and trails that lead to historic gold rush mine sites.  Throw in stunning scenery along the clear, cold river, tumbling over and between massive granite boulders, and it's a real winner. For most of our almost-four years in Nevada City, the So Yuba has been woefully low, owing to the ongoing drought and virtually no Sierra snow pack.  This year it's different.  This year the So Yuba River is wild!

Jimmy and I have hiked many of the So Yuba trails, but we keep finding new ones to do, like today, which is great!  Today we picked three-mile R/T Pt. Defiance Trail.  This one, however, is all up and down, with switchbacks and boulders, very little flat, and definitely not handicapped accessible.  It sure was a stunner, tho.  And for the first and last quarters, we could hear the river roar!

I guess we tackled the trail backwards (sounds about right), but it's a loop trail, so it can't really matter.  As soon as we stepped on the path, we were on the switchbacks.  Look at this gorgeous green grass!

Those switchbacks took us through oak woodlands, with a pair of Red-headed woodpeckers rat-a-tat-tatting, into a serene grassy meadow.  Then we began a descent on an old dirt road, eroded by rain, toward Englebright Lake.  Jimmy isn't easy to see in that yellow shirt.

Within a short time, we spied the Yuba River far below us on our right.  To our left, the canyon wall offered shade to lots and lots of wildflowers and ferns.  Above are Indian Pink and Larkspur. 

This is the North Yuba River, simply referred to as the Yuba River.
Soon it'll be joined by the South Yuba.

Canyon wall on left, Yuba River below on the right.  The day was very warm, surprisingly so after our chilly winter, and we appreciated the shade.

I know this guy, Scotch broom, is considered invasive, but it is pretty striking.

Wildflowers, clockwise from top left:  Indian Pink, Fairy Lantern, Pretty Face, Wally Basket, and Iris hartwegii.  And so many more -- including Blue-eyed Grass, Plantain Buttercups, Lupines, etc. -- the area is a spectacular show in spring!

As I stop to take pictures, Jimmy gets way ahead of me ... see him in his yellow shirt?  In this picture, we've descended almost to river level, and it was along here that we heard turkeys garbling on the other side.  You can also see a big rut running down the middle of the road.

Slap in the middle of the map in the light green area is a thin sort of circular line between Rice's Crossing Road and Point Defiance Campground, and that's the trail.  We hiked it counter-clockwise from the covered bridge.  Kinda looks like a zipper where the switchbacks are!

This is Pt. Defiance.  The confluence of the South Yuba River (entering at left) and the Yuba River to the right, and the beginning (or would it be the end?) of Englebright Lake.  What a wonderful place for a bench.  A fresh breeze was blowing off the water to keep us cool, and the bright sun felt divine.  We ate our granola bars sitting here.  We were alone, no one else was about.  Quiet.  I told Jimmy that I could easily stretch out in the tall soft grass, close my eyes and nod off.  I didn't, but that's how peaceful we felt in this spot.  Behind us is the campground, with picnic tables, vaulted toilets, lantern hooks, and plastic trash bags (pack it in, pack it out).

Englebright Lake, nestled in the scenic Sierra foothills east of Marysville.  It's a reservoir on the Yuba River, constructed for the storage of hydraulic gold mining debris.  Englebright Dam is a concrete arch structure, located in the steep Yuba River gorge known as the Narrows.  The lake is nine-miles long with a surface area of 815 acres.  It's unique in that it offers boat-in camping only.  (I bet you could camp here as a walk-in.)  Didn't know most of this, thank Google for the info.

It seemed like three separate trails or hikes.  This last part, where we joined the So Yuba River, was drop-dead beautiful, but tough going!  We were glad we'd taken our walking sticks!  Poison oak was everywhere, encroaching on the trail -- leaves of three, leave 'em be!  Every stitch of clothing we wore went straight into the washing machine and I washed my arms and legs in Technu.  So far so good.

This stretch of the So Yuba River looked like it would be a zippy ride in a kayak!  Not many boulders lining the river or visible in the water.  It may not look like much in the photo, but there are a lot of CFS's ripping along toward the confluence and Englebright.

Geez, all the boulders are on the trail!

And here we are, approaching the covered bridge!  What a wild and scenic river, roaring like a lion!  We really enjoyed the couple of hours we spent on this trail.  Our legs will feel it tomorrow!  We'd rate the trail as moderate because it's rough-going and rocky by the river, and either all up or all down the entire way!

Haha, if we only did things right, we'd have seen this sign at the beginning instead of the end!  Nope, we didn't see either one.  So, new territory.  I'm sure this would be a hot and popular hike in the summer, with swimmers and campers, but I imagine this trail will look just as appealing in October, with leaves turning 16 shades of red/yellow/orange.  We'll have to come back and check it out.


  1. Scenery and wild flowers ... a great spring time trail.

  2. Sounds like April is treating you well:)

  3. You're killing me with all those wildflowers!! I'm flying out to Idaho on Friday, can't wait to see green and flowers for myself, of course it's still winter here in Wisconsin.

    1. Hope the flowers are colorful, and it's nice and green for you in Idaho!


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