The Buttermilk Bend Trail begins at the north parking lot and follows the north side of the river upstream for a gentle and level 1.2 miles, one way. Scenic river views abound. Don't miss the springtime wildflower display. Guided hikes occur on weekends from mid-March to mid-May.
Point Defiance Loop begins at the north end of the covered bridge and continues downstream 1 mile where the river flows into Lake Englebright at Point Defiance. The trail continues uphill with peaceful lake views, then decends through oak woodland back to the bridge, for a total of 2.8 miles.
Shorter trails include:
Kneebone Beach - 1/4 mile from the main parking lot upstream on the south side of the river to this popular swimming hole.
Cemetery Loop - about 1/3 mile takes you from the Visitor Center past historic rock walls to the Kneebone family cemetery. The trail continues along Kentucky Creek to the river and past Family Beach. Good birdwatching opportunities; you may be lucky to spot our resident Bald Eagles.
Highway 49 Crossing Trails
The Independence Trail is the nation's first wheelchair accessible wilderness trail and follows the path of gold rush era flumes. From the trailhead you can travel approximately 1.5 miles either east or west. Both directions are level and shady and offer sweeping views from high above the river. From the West trail you can visit Rush Creek waterfall, or take the steep (non wheelchair accessible) 0.4 mile spur to access the river at Jones Bar. The construction of Independence Trail was spearheaded by Sequoya Challenge, who maintained the trail and offered interpretive programs.
Hoyt's Trail begins at the north end of the old Highway 49 bridge. It travels upstream about 1.2 miles to a beach and fomer river crossing called Hoyt's. Numerous downtrails lead off the main trail to small beaches, smooth, water-sculpted granite perches, and pristine swimming holes.
Purdon Crossing to Edward's Crossing
This 5 mile stretch of the South Yuba Trail runs along the shadier south side of the river between Purdon Crossing in the west and Edward's Crossing in the east. If you begin at Edward's Crossing, the trail has a very slight downhill. You'll travel through several microclimates - mossy, ferny streams, sunny rock outcroppings, forested areas - and through State Park, Bureau of Land Management and private properties. The species of springtime wildflowers are those which favor cooler, shadier areas, different than those of the Buttermilk Bend Trail. This trail is open to mountain bikes, with some technical sections.
At Edward's Crossing, the Spring Creek Trail begins at the north end of the bridge. It continues downstream about 1 mile, crossing Spring Creek along the way. At Spring Creek you might be lucky enough to see swarms of lady beetles covering rocks and tree roots in a red carpet. There are several points to access the river along this trail.