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The peninsula was once a major thoroughfare for gold prospectors and commerce from Sacramento to the mines on the western side of the north fork of the American River. Today, the chunk of land known as the Peninsula Campground is isolated and decidedly very quiet as travel to this state park is a circuitous drive […]
A group of Native Americans from Georgia settled in the area working the exposed auriferous gravel deposit north of Table Mountain and called the area Cherokee. By 1855 there were several small placer mining operations working the ground. By 1873 they had built the largest inverted siphon to carry water across the Feather River.
The original transcontinental tunnels and snow sheds over Donner Summit were abandoned in 1993 for the tunnel under Mt. Judah. After hiking to the top of Mt. Judah you can walk the many miles of tunnels and cliffs blasted out by Chinese labor in the 1860′s. The concrete snow sheds that replaced the wooden coverings that were prone to fire from the steam engine embers, is now a canvass for graffiti art.
Maybe you can’t walk back in time, but you certainly can walk through part of California’s water history. Dug by hand in the side of the hill above the south fork of the Yuba River, the abandoned water canal and flumes have been transformed into a fairly easy, wheelchair accessible, hike. Named appropriately the Independence Trail, it’s more of a walk than a hike.
The destination was the outlet of the great North Bloomfield Tunnel that dumped gold bearing sediment from Malakoff Diggins into Mercury laden sluice flumes. We had seen the sign at the head of Humbug Trail indicating the trail was closed because of a damaged bridge. A little bridge doesn’t stop hikers on a mission…usually. But this one did.
The new age of electricity ushered in the mass transit possibility of street cars. Even today the sight of an electric trolley car rolling down the tracks in this sparsely populated portion of California looks out of place. But the scenery of wheat fields, cattle and sheep grazing has changed little since the first trolley line rolled through the Montezuma Hills.
It feels like a miniaturized Yosemite when you first walk into Auburn Quarry Crags climbing park.
The big attraction is the covered bridge built in 1862 after floods washed out the previous structure. The Point Defiance trail loop provides great views and takes you through a variety of ecological settings.
South of Horseshoe bar you will come upon what is referred to as the NFD viaduct. This is an impressive structure built to conduct the water over a small ravine. Easily 15 feet tall and 40 feet in length, large granite blocks were carefully stacked to create what looks like a dam.
If you want to actually get to the base of the Birdsall Dam site, which was my goal, you have to be more adventurous. You must leave the Pioneer Express Trail and hike around the American River bottoms.