South Yuba River State Park
- Point Defiance Loop Trail: A portion of the trail from the switchbacks to the top (going right counterclockwise) will be closed. *In Progress*
- Family Beach: The picnic area and beach access will be closed for needed reconstruction of the picnic area. This will also require a partial closure for the Cemetery Loop Trail North side where it passes by Family Beach. *In Progress*
(6/9/2022) The Jones fire impacted portions of South Yuba River State Park. In the interest of public safety, resource protection, and emergency stabilization, the portion of the Independence Trail destroyed by the fire is closed until further notice.
Dogs allowed on all trails and shoreline areas of South Yuba River State Park, except the area known as Family Beach. Dogs not allowed here from the covered bridge at Bridgeport, 200 feet downstream on both sides of the river.
Driving Directions to South Yuba River SPSouth Yuba River State Park is located off Highway 49, north of Nevada City. The park is accessible from Edwards Crossing, Purdon Crossing, Highway 49 and Bridgeport.
17660 Pleasant Valley Road, Penn Valley, CA 95946
Online reservations are not available for this park.
Upcoming Park Events
No events scheduled at this moment.
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Drinking Water Available
Temporary Trail Closures
Independence Trail Partial Closure Due to Jones FireIndependence Trail is partially closed to the public due to safety concerns and resource protection in the aftermath of the 2020 Jones Fire. A District Superintendent Order enacting the closure is currently in effect. The west side of the historic Independence Trail, off Highway 49 in western Nevada County, is partially closed after the new connection to the Jones Bar Trail. This new connection was opened on June 1, 2022 under DSO#683-22-024. Independence Trail west of the intersection with the newly re-aligned Jones Bar Trail to Rush Creek remains CLOSED.
State Park crews are actively surveying the damage and working toward the restoration of this trail system. The work is extensive and may involve extended closure.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding in staying off the trails for your own safety. If you have any further questions, please call the Sierra District Office at (530) 273-3884.
Sign up for Volunteer Training!
The volunteer training has been postponed to March 31st due to weather! Visit Volunteer Programs for detailed information.
To learn more about the wide variety of volunteer opportunities before the training, South Yuba River State Park will host an informational Volunteer Program Open House on March 25th, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Bridgeport. Volunteer docents will be staffing tables to talk with the public about the activities they do, and answer questions about the volunteer program.
For more information, email the Sierra Gold Sector Volunteer Coordinator Jean Rhyne or call (530) 273-7714.
Once the South Yuba River watershed was the focal point of the California Gold Rush. Today, it is recognized by the California State legislature as a Wild and Scenic River with scenery of “Outstanding Remarkable Value.” This park which follows the river the twenty miles provides a very scenic geologic cross-section of a part of the State that played such prominent roles both geologically and economically in California’s history.
Join us for docent led wildflower walks on spring weekends as we take you on a tour to see poppies, lupines, larkspur, fiddlenecks, popcorn flowers and others that are currently blooming. The walks are 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, beginning of March through Mother's Day on the Buttermilk Bend Trail. They typically take around two hours but may last longer. You’ll also be able to spot the large black Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, fluttering from wildflower to wildflower.
Visitors can meet the docent in the North Parking Lot (where the kiosk is located). Heavy rain and early summer heat can cancel these seasonal walks; call the Visitor Center for further details.
Bridgeport Covered Bridge Restoration ProjectWe welcome people to walk through the covered bridge and take a step back in time! The bridge connects hiking trails and the historic area, allowing visitors to relive the mining-era days of travel along the turnpike.
This historic landmark reopened to the public on November 4th, 2021 after being closed for 10 years due to safety concerns. Preservation is a community effort, and would not have been possible without decades of community involvement. With the support of State Parks, Sierra Gold Parks Foundation, Nevada County, South Yuba River Citizens’ League, and the Nevada County Regional Chamber of Commerce, private citizens, and elected officials, Save Our Bridge gained the attention and eventual $6.9 million in funding to make this goal a reality. The rehabilitation project spanned mid-2019 through the fall of 2021 by Spectra Company and is an inspiring example how a community can come together to save an historical treasure for future generations.
Click here for the chronicled progress of the project.
California State Parks acknowledges the Nisenan People were here in this State Park since time immemorial. The Nisenan People are still here today, though they are nearly invisible.
The Sierra District of California State Parks includes their story in our interpretation and education here at the South Yuba River State Park. We understand we are on Nisenan Land and that the original Tribal Families have yet to recover from the near genocide of their people during the California Gold Rush.
California State Parks supports the Nevada City Rancheria Tribe in efforts to stabilize their people as well as the campaign to restore Tribal sovereignty through Federal Recognition.
Watch our interview with Nisenan Tribal Spokesperson, Shelly Covert recording here
South Yuba River State Park headquarters located at Bridgeport, 17660 Pleasant Valley Rd can be accessed from Highway 20 west of Grass Valley or from Higway 49 north of Nevada City. Remote portions of the park are accessible from Edwards Crossing, Purdon Crossing, and Highway 49.
This 20-mile portion of the South Yuba River canyon stretches from Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park to Bridgeport covered bridge. The area includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world, the steep rugged canyon of the South Yuba River, and the Independence Trail - the first identified wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail in the country.
South Yuba River State Park offers many scenic vistas. Visitors can view swift moving water carving the granitic canyon that is peppered with seasonal native blooms in springtime, and experience refreshing swimming holes that dot the 20 mile length of the Yuba River in late summer. Along the length of the park, visitors can see several architectually different bridges spanning from the Gold Rush era to the mid-20th century.
Visitors can enjoy:
- bird watching
- panning for gold
- wildflowers in the spring
- hiking in the historic gold country
- docent-led history, wildflower, birding, geology, and gold-panning tours are also offered at selected times throughout the year
Adventuresome hikers have a choice of trails ranging in difficulty, from the easiest (Independence Trail), to other more strenuous trails throughout the park. Click on the "Hiking" link above right to explore all the hiking trail options.
Winter and Spring weather conditions can cause the trail to become muddy and impassable for wheelchairs. Call the park for trail condition information before you go.
Filming Videos and Still Photography in State Parks
California State Parks requires an approved film permit for:
- All commercial still photography and videography
- Professional photographers offering services
- Student photo/film
- Professional development projects
Drones are not permitted unless a special permit is granted. Use film and photography permits link below for further contact information.
To learn more, please visit our blog here.
For specific film permit information at Empire Mine State Historic Park, Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park or South Yuba River State Park, please review Sierra Gold Sector Film Permit information.