2017-2018 Nevada County Gold Magazine 2017-2018_Nevada County Gold Magazine - Page 85

T R A I L S ROUND MOUNTAIN: A LOCAL TREASURE By Hank Meals Getting There: From Nevada City follow East Broad Street to the traffic light on Hwy. 49. Cross the highway and drive a short distance uphill on North Bloomfield Road to a “T” where you make a right turn. Drive 5 miles on North Bloomfield Road to the Diamond Arrow Conference Center. On the edge of their property, and just before North Bloomfield Road descends into the Yuba River canyon, is Rock Creek Road. This is a good dirt road that climbs 0.7 miles to the trailhead located just past Merrimas Road. Note: Be forewarned that there are very few signs or trail markers, so pay attention to the landscape and vegetation. The names of the trails, excepting the South Yuba Trail, are names used by local users of the trail system. As far as I can tell BLM calls all the trails the Round Mountain Trail. In some areas there is abundant poison oak, which is less of a problem if you stay on the trail. The Trails On Round Mountain there are at least six trails managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – I’ll briefly describe four of them. The main trailhead is on Rock Creek Road on a flat hilltop with adequate parking places and a billboard. Behind the trailhead billboard are two trails. Take the one headed south (on your left). This trail splits after a few hundred feet where you take the trail to the right. Within a quarter mile is a short, clearly marked, spur trail to “Coyote Ledge”. This is a former volcanic mud- flow that is now an open treeless area with splendid views to the south and west. On a clear day you can see the Sutter Buttes in the Sacramento Valley and the Coast Range beyond. Come early in the morning or late afternoon for the best light. There is also a one-mile loop trail option that will take you to back to the trailhead. Another easy trail is an unnamed ridgetop road east of the trail- head and across Rock Creek Road where, after a short and easy climb, a seldom-used service road traverses a ridgetop dominated by black oak and ponderosa pine. When the road splits stay to the right. It continues about a mile, so out to the property line and back is a pleasant two-mile saunter in a scenic forest setting. For another, more vigorous option continue past the Coyote Ledge spur trail where the trail descends downslope to the west through a forest of oak and mixed conifers. On some maps this is called the “Upper Hudson Trail”. About two miles from the trailhead the trail splits with a branch gradually heading upslope to the north. This is the “Up and Over Trail” that continues over a small ridge into a Douglas fir dominated forest and another trailhead with a road and parking area. If you return to the trailhead at this point you will have covered about five miles. The shady parking lot at the intersection of the “Up and Over Trail” and Trailhead Road is the staging area for the “Round Mountain Descent Trail”, a favorite with mountain bikers. It descends a mile and a half to the South Yuba Trail, which parallels the South Yuba River. For a real adventure start at the trailhead on Rock Creek Road and take the “Upper Hudson Trail”, the “Up and Over Trail” and the “Descent Trail” to the South Yuba Trail then walk upstream to Edwards Crossing, a bridge on North Bloomfield Road, where you can be met by someone with a vehicle. This is an exhilarating and beautiful seven-mile hike. Edwards Crossing is less than a mile below the intersection of North Bloomfield Road and Rock Creek Road. R OUND MOUNTAIN IS ON A 3,300’ RIDGE between the South Yuba River and Rock Creek, one of its tributaries. It’s accessi- ble all year making it a favorite with local hikers and moun- tain bikers. On the slopes of Rock Creek there are still bedrock mor- tars where the indigenous Nisenan people ground acorns for cen- turies. There are also dry-stacked rock walls from the 19th century that were built as structure foundations and retaining walls. Prior to the hydraulic mining era there was extensive streamside sluicing of placer deposits in the Rock Creek basin. While on Round Mountain the former Merrimas, Round Mountain and Adalante mines were active into the 20th century. A mild climate combined with abundant black oak, live oak, blue oak, ponderosa pine, sugar pine and other plants provides excellent habitat for birds, fish, reptiles, insects and large mammals, including deer, black bear and humans. L O C A L N E VA D A C O U N T Y G O L D . c o m 85