Independence Trail

South Yuba River State Park, California

Elevation Gain1,356ft
Trailhead Elevation1,471ft
Elevation Min/Max1424/1500ft
Elevation Start/End1471/1471ft
Independence Trail is a hiking trail in Nevada County, California. It is within South Yuba River State Park. It is 4.6 miles long and begins at 1,471 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.0 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,356 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms. Diamond Head and another restrooms can be seen along the trail. There are also picnic sites and a viewpoint along the trail.

Independence Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"This region’s South Yuba River Project is a California state park in the making, slowly taking shape out of independently owned public and private lands. The wide trails remain nearly flat, despite the steepness of the surrounding mountains —making this hike perfectly wheelchair accessible. The Independence Trail follows the course of the defunct Excelsior Canal, built in 1859 to carry water to a gold-mining operation 25 miles away. Old mine artifacts have been impressively rebuilt into trail structures, including several wooden flumes that now serve as pedestrian bridges. Possibilities exist for longer hikes. Terrain: Dirt path and wooden walkway through mixed conifer-oak woodlands and a deep river valley."

"This short hike follows a dry mining ditch high above the South Yuba River, the most exhilarating stretches clinging to the canyon wall on rebuilt flumes. The Independence Trail is the first path through a roadless area in the United States built expressly for wheelchairs. Of all the works left by the miners, few are more dramatic than the ditches and flumes built to transport water to power hydraulic mining operations or stamp mills. Hung precipitously from canyon walls, the most magnificent of these waterworks rounded mountainsides like reckless juggernauts, rushing in and out of steep ravines, leaping over gorges on wooden flumes, bearing river waters hundreds of feet above their natural channels. The Independence Trail follows just such a canal, the Excelsior Ditch, built in 1856 to transport South Yuba River water 25 miles to the hydraulic monitors at Smartsville."

"This classic Gold Country hike combines an exciting crossing of a boardwalk, suspended on cliffs and elevated on tall trestles, with a deep gorge, plunging waterfalls, and one of the largest rivers in the northern Sierra Nevada. South Yuba River State Park’s Independence Trail is billed as the nation’s first wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail.

Both the state park and the trail were made possible by years
of tireless effort by noted naturalist John Olmsted, who was responsible for numerous state parks around California. The Independence Trail has eastern and western sections, divided by CA 49. Both offer wheelchair- accessible sections, fascinating history, impressive trail engineering, and beautiful scenery. However, the western half can also be combined with other trails to form a great loop."

"From the trailhead to a perch overlooking Hoyt Crossing in 2.3 canyon miles, including 11 flumes, this short trail in the former Excelsior Ditch offers a glimpse into the engineering methods and challenges of 19th-century gold miners. The beautiful canyon views in a foothill-woodland habitat zone are worth the trip as well."

"Just 10 minutes from Nevada City, this pleasant hike makes use of the first wheelchairaccessible wilderness trail in the United States. The builders created the path from the remains of an abandoned mining and irrigation canal originally built in 1854. The level grade makes it ideal for hikers of all ages and abilities. Interpretive and identifying signs highlight the diversity of flora along the trail. A sharp eye will spot a California newt among the trail duff (and the sharp hiker won’t touch it—the amphibian’s slimy coating is toxic). The cascades at Rush Creek, which has a superior ramp-access system, is the glamour spot on this route."

Independence Trail Reviews

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As a person with a disability I was thrilled to know that when I started this trail, I could complete this trail! Can't wait to get my wheelchair using friends to join that is truely a rare treat... the trail is a part of the Yuba State Park, access to the trailhead is ON Highway 49, you can miss it. There are 2 accessible parking spots at the entrance.
Really nice trail, great for kids (totally flat, interesting bridges and waterfalls along the old mine pathway) and very well maintained. All the structures were in top shape.
This was my first hike and I'm glad it was so level. There are little markers that tell you the name of the plants along with way. Remember to bring the insect repellent because the mosquitos were out in force.

Independence Trail Photos

Trail Information

South Yuba River State Park
Nearby City
South Yuba River State Park
Dog-friendly, Kid-friendly, Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Additional Use

Activity Feed

Jun 2018