State Parks

Empire Mine State Historic Park (map)

Located in Grass Valley, the Empire Mine is the site of the oldest, largest, and richest gold mine in California. From 1850 to its closing in 1956, it produced 5.8 million ounces of gold.This 5.8 million ounces of gold would fill a box 7 feet on each side. It is estimated that this represented only 20% of the available gold…80% remains. The Park contains many of the original mine buildings, the owners cottage and the restored gardens and grounds as well as the entrance to 367 miles (the equivalent of a round trip from Grass Valley to San Jose) of abandoned and flooded shafts and tunnels. The park consists of 845 acres of forested back country and 12 miles of trails for hikers, bikers and horseback riders. (Read more…)

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (map)

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park is the site of California’s largest “hydraulic” mine. Visitors can see huge cliffs carved by mighty streams of water, results of the gold mining technique of washing away entire mountains to find the precious metal. Legal battles between mine owners and downstream farmers ended this method. The park also contains a 7,847 foot bedrock tunnel that served as a drain. The visitor center has exhibits on life in the old mining town of North Bloomfield.(read more…)

South Yuba River State Park (map)

This 20-mile portion of the south fork of the Yuba River canyon stretches from Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park to Bridgeport. The area includes the longest single-span covered bridge in the world, four miles of the steep rugged canyon of the South Yuba River, and the Independence Trail — a wheelchair accessible trail.

South Yuba River State Park offers many scenic vistas. Visitors can view fast water pouring over massive granite ledges, and historic toll crossings and bridges that tell a story of day-to-day life during the Gold Rush era.

Visitors can enjoy swimming, hiking, panning for gold, beautiful wildflowers, or exploring the trails leading to such historic mining sites as the Miner’s Tunnel and Jones Bar. Docent-led history, nature, 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 South Yuba Independence Trail — the first identified wheelchair-accessible wilderness trail in the country — to other more strenuous trails.

Areas within the SYRP include Bridgeport, and the Hwy. 49 Crossing areas.

*Bridgeport (map)

*Hwy 49 Crossing (map)

(read more…)

Donner Memorial Park (map)

Located in the beautiful Sierra Nevada, Donner Memorial State Park offers the summer vacationer opportunities for camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, water-skiing, and hiking. In winter, visitors can cross-country ski and snowshoe on trails and enjoy the season’s beauty. Visitors are welcome year-round at the Emigrant Trail Museum and at the Pioneer Monument, built to commemorate those who emigrated to California from the east in the mid-1800’s. Included in the museum are displays and information about one of the earliest pioneer wagon trains, the Donner Party, forced by circumstances to camp at the east end of Donner Lake in the winter of 1846–47, resulting in human suffering and loss of life. (read more…)