Get outside this summer on local trails with Bear Yuba Land Trust

By Laura Petersen, Community Engagement Manager, Bear Yuba Land Trust

On June third hundreds of community members came together to kick off summer and plan their outdoor recreation adventures at Bear Yuba Land Trust’s annual event, “Celebration of Trails”, which coincided with American Hiking Society’s National Trails Day.
Trails are one of the greatest assets of any community – they build strong neighborhoods and boost the local economy. They get people of all ages and mobility levels outside and close to nature for healthy exercise and spiritual renewal. “Hiking trails is my preferred way to simultaneously relax and stay alert. It’s flat-out invigorating for the mind, body, and soul,” said author, archaeologist, and Land Trust Trek Leader Hank Meals.
During Celebration of Trails, Hank led an outing that started at BYLT’s Black Swan Preserve, which is off Mooney Flat Road near Smartsville. Located at an old hydraulic mine site, it’s one of more than 20 local trails built and maintained by BYLT and its dedicated volunteers. That same morning, Ana Acton, Director of FREED Center for Independent Living, led a family outing for people of all mobility levels on the popular Hirschman Trail near Cement Hill Road, along with BYLT’s Trail Coordinator Bill Haire. Meanwhile, Nevada City Mayor Evans Phelps joined BYLT’s Land Access Manager Shaun Clarke leading a group to the suspension bridge that honors the Nisenan, “Angkluo Seo,” on the Deer Creek Tribute Trail.
Support for local trails is gaining momentum. At the Trails Day headquarters, Grass Valley Mayor Howard Levine bestowed a Trails Day Proclamation upon BYLT and spoke about a new trail in the works on Wolf Creek. This year Nevada City and Nevada County also showed their support for trails with similar proclamations. “Trails are the veins of our existence, an important part of Grass Valley’s connectivity,” said Levine.
Grass Valley has had trails in its General Plan for decades and is now moving forward on a trail project that will provide public access to Wolf Creek, an important tributary of the Bear River. “It is a resource too long hidden,” said Levine.
The Celebration of Trails event attracted a diverse group of outdoor partners that included state and federal agencies, recreation outfitters, hiking clubs, conservation groups, bicycle clubs, equestrian groups, campgrounds, and more. With donations and volunteers, BYLT has built and maintains over 35 miles of local trails for hikers, runners, mountain bicyclists, equestrian riders, wheelchair users, dog walkers, and families. Trails in the works include a new route to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Pines to Mines Trail, which will connect Nevada City and Truckee.
Nevada County has no county parks or a recreation department, so community support and volunteer efforts are vital in the development and maintenance of recreational trails like the wheelchair-accessible Independence Trail, or the new black-diamond-level Yuba Drop Trail. BYLT’s expert trails team, then, creates partnerships between public and private stakeholders, and provides resources to plan and develop trails. BYLT trails are built with volunteer labor and donations rather than tax dollars. One-third of the trails are built on private or city land where the landowner has donated a trail easement that BYLT holds for public access.
Trails preserve the rural and scenic quality of life while providing residents and visitors opportunities to enjoy nature, stay healthy and fit outdoors, and access safe routes to school and work, all the while reducing carbon emissions from automobiles. Research shows that walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improve blood pressure, lower the risk of obesity, and enhance one’s mental well-being.
“Local trails are important. You can get in shape, join your family for a ride on a shady trail in August, connect to our great forests and rivers, and challenge yourself on a new steep route. We are so lucky to have an abundance of opportunities in Nevada County,” said Ellen Lampham, of Bicyclists of Nevada County (BONC).
Want to learn more about how you can get involved with the local trails movement? Download maps of 30 local trails, sign up for guided treks, get involved with the 52 Hike Challenge, become a trail volunteer, or donate to trails today at

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