South Yuba River State Park

Phone Number

(530) 432-2546

Park Hours


Dogs Allowed?

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 SP

South 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.

Hiking Trails
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Beach Area
Vista Point
Family Programs
Drinking Water Available
Wheelchair Accessible

PUBLIC SAFETY ALERT: Due to PG&E’s ongoing emergency repair work at Spaulding 1 powerhouse, the dam at Spaulding Reservoir is expected to begin spilling water between April 3 and 8, which will significantly increase flows on the South Yuba River.
The flows are cold due to snow melt and could potentially be greater and more dynamic than previous years; those recreating in and near the river are strongly advised to exercise caution. Typical flows in this part of the river for this time of year range from about 10 to 325 cfs. Peak flows may be as high as 4,000 to 6,000 cfs and potentially higher if there is a significant rain-on-snow event or multi-day heatwave accelerating snowmelt.

Know the Risks!

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. Cold water also reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature and causes impairment that can be fatal.
  • When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers can be easily overwhelmed.
  • Prevention is the best way to save a person from drowning. By the time a person is struggling in the water, a rescue is extremely unlikely and places the rescuer at risk.

Buttermilk Bend Trail Closure

Trail Closure Announcement: Buttermilk Bend Trail

Attention Hikers and Park Guests,

We regret to inform you that the Buttermilk Bend Trail will be closed indefinitely due to major trail damage caused by recent trail washout. Your safety is our top priority, and given the extent of the damage, the trail is not safe for public use at this time.

We understand the disappointment this may cause to those who enjoy exploring Buttermilk Bend Trail, but please know that this closure is necessary to ensure the safety of all visitors. We urge everyone to refrain from accessing the trail until further notice.

In the meantime, we encourage you to explore alternative hiking trails in the area. There are many beautiful trails nearby that offer scenic experiences including the Virginia Turnpike Loop (easy), the 2.8-mile Point Defiance Loop at Bridgeport Crossing (moderate), the Hoyt Crossing Trail at Highway 49 crossing, the Independence Trail (east / upriver portion only) and the South Yuba River Recreation Trail connecting Purdon Crossing and Edwards Crossing. Our staff is available (530-432-2546) to provide recommendations and assistance in finding alternative routes for your outdoor adventures.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this closure may cause and appreciate your cooperation and understanding as we work to address the damage and restore the Buttermilk Bend Trail to its safe and enjoyable condition.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Independence Trail Partial Closure Due to Jones Fire

Independence 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 historic Independence Trail, off Highway 49 in western Nevada County, is closed west of the intersection with the newly re-aligned Jones Bar Trail to Rush Creek.
Map of new connection
The Independence Trail was constructed on historic flumes designed to carry water to hydraulic mining operations. The flumes act as bridges in many locations and Flume 22, the first flume located approximately a quarter mile from the eastern trail entrance off of Highway 49, is damaged due to soil erosion associated with continuous landslides. Several lower sections of the bottom piers, supporting the structure, are broken or undercut due to soil instability. The bridge is not safe for pedestrian traffic. 

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 begins April 12th/13th! 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 16th, 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.

South Yuba River SP(Photograph by Mike Fuller)
South Yuba River State Park
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.

The full Geo Gems report
  |  Geological Gems of State Parks

Wildflowers at South Yuba River SPWildflowers at South Yuba River State Park
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. You’ll also be able to spot the large black Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, fluttering from wildflower to wildflower.
  Wildflowers at South Yuba River SPThe 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 1-2 hours. 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.

South Yuba River State Park Bridge re-opening

Bridgeport Covered Bridge Restoration Project

We 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.

Land Acknowledgement

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


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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.

The park:
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: 

  • swimming
  • 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

Image of couple at Torrey Pines SBCalifornia State Parks thanks you for choosing our beautiful parks for your photographic activities and sharing the wonders of our park units with the world. However, in order to maintain the beauty of our parks and its natural and cultural resources, we require that all commercial, still and motion picture photographers obtain a film permit from the California Film Commission.

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.