2020-2021_Nevada County Gold

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An in depth introduction to Historic Nevada County, California including Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley, Truckee and Sierra County.

RECREATION

THE WOLF CREEK TRAIL:

GRASS VALLEY’S

REDISCOVERED PLEASURE

by Hank Meals

IN 1852, A PAIR OF LITHOGRAPHERS named Sarony

and Major made a print of Grass Valley which showed Wolf

Creek surrounded by gently sloping meadows. It was rich

habitat for the plants, animals and the indigenous Nisenan who

originally lived here. In time it grew to become a pleasant town

for underground gold miners and their families. Grass Valley is

much more populated now and you have to look for areas

where the creek is still visible. However, we can thank the City of

Grass Valley, Wolf Creek Community Alliance and

Bear Yuba Land Trust for reigniting interest in the creek by

creating the Wolf Creek Trail, located southwest of the

downtown historic district.

So far, this shady streamside trail traverses less than a mile along

the east slope of Wolf Creek. Actually, there are a few trails here.

There is a ten-foot wide paved main trail situated upslope from

the creek that’s suitable for strolling or for people with mobility

issues and there are two earthen spur trails alongside the creek

itself. Most users prefer the paved trail and it’s especially popular

with dog-walkers, young families with small children on

bikes and occasional skaters.

Wolf Creek Trail has two popular trailheads one begins at the

North Star Mining Museum where there’s a small park with picnic

tables adjacent to the creek. Here you can see skillfully

stacked and mortared rock work that was used to construct the

former powerhouse and stone bridge. The museum is first-class,

highlighting underground gold mining, and worthy of a visit for

its own sake.

Follow the trail downstream past the wastewater treatment plant

where the creek flows southward in a native riparian forest of

ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, madrone, live oak, big-leaf maple,

white alder, incense cedar and black oak. Gold miners planted

the black locust, apple trees and periwinkle, while Chinese

miners brought the Tree of Heaven.

The other main trailhead is on Freeman Lane at the site of a

former landslide on Little Wolf Creek. It was an engineering feat

to remediate and create this series of wide, paved and gradual

switchbacks that enables users with compromised abilities

greater access. This trailhead is .04 mile on Freeman Lane from

where Mill Street meets Freeman Lane at the North Star

Museum. There’s adequate signage making it easy to find.

Wolf Creek Trail is very popular with locals. Someday, Grass

Valley is hoping to build a bridge across Wolf Creek and

continue the trail downstream. This extension will greatly

enhance the lower trail’s wild ambience.

Directions

How to get there:

From the heart of Grass Valley’s

downtown Historic District, at Mill

and W. Main Streets, drive (or walk)

.08 mile on Mill Street to the North

Star Mining Museum and the main

trailhead.

If you are driving north on Highway

49 from Auburn take the Highway 20

– Empire Street Exit and make a left at

the Stop Light. Cross over the freeway

and immediately make a right onto

Mill Street. Turn right on Mill Street

and continue under the freeway to

the North Star Mining Museum.

If coming from Nevada City or greater

Grass Valley on Highway 49 take the

Empire Street – Highway 20 Exit and

make an immediate right loop to Mill

Street and a stop sign. Turn right

again crossing below the freeway to

another stop sign. Immediately in

front of you will be the North Star

Mining Museum parking lot which is

also the trailhead.

Another access point is to continue on

to the Freeman Lane parking area.

Turn left at the stop sign in front of

the North Star Mining Museum and

proceed on Freeman Lane for .04 mile

and park just past the driveway to

Tripp’s Auto Body and the clearly

signed Wolf Creek Trail.

North Star Mining Museum

ALL PHOTOS BY HANK MEALS

NEVADACOUNTYGOLD.com | 69

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