Mill Trail

Access is from the Pioneer trail off Hwy 20 east of Nevada City Ca. Here is a road map of the Gold Country to get you there

Comments: This isn't a long loop…about 7.2 miles and 850 ft of elevation gain, but it does have some steep descents and it's a very remote part of the forest so be safe. The spots where the trail is fairly flat are the old railroad grades usually. And there are some nice size trees that escaped the loggers down in the canyon…always nice to see. There are more trails in the area but this seems to be one of the more popular routes for cyclist. I generally don't see many riders down this trail though.This trail isn't for beginners...check it out and enjoy.

Trailhead access: Well there are a few ways to access this trail. A lot of folks like to incorporate this side trail into their Pioneer Trail drop and start up at the Omega Rest Stop. Chalk Bluff Road is another good start spot {for those folks with a shuttle}. On these routes you would take the Omega Trail off the Pioneer trail. When you got to the bottom where the trail joins with the Pioneer trail again you keep to the left heading up the hill instead. You pass a trail on the right at the bottom of the hill…continue straight {there is a sign post with a purple arrow here} and it's a short distance to the hilltop. Take the trail on the right at the clear-cut at the top of the hill.

If you are doing a loop a good place to start is at the Skillman campgrounds. Look for the sign for the campgrounds about a mile past the Washington overlook and on the right. There is parking off this road, Burlington Ridge Road. Right past the campgrounds and next to the gate you will see the Pioneer Trail on the left. This single-track climbs kinda circling the campgrounds. There is a short section of canal before you take a right at the sign at .4 mile. The Pioneer Trail continues climbing. At .7 mile you are near Hwy 20 across the Hwy 20 from the Alfa and Omega Road turnoff. The trail gets rather steep. You pass a Road USFS 20-13 and continue climbing. You are in a creek bed as you climb and at 1.9 miles and after 340 ft of climb you come to a trail split where the Pioneer goes to the left up a steep hill. Continue straight here and in 60 ft you will see where the Omega Trail comes in on the left. Pass that and continue straight. Another 100 ft. and you see a trail dropping in on the left {that's the Omega Trail too} and a trail on the right. Continue through this intersection straight up the hill. {There is a sign post with a purple arrow here.} It's a short distance to the top and at the clear-cut take the trail on the right. By now you have done 400 ft. of climb in 2 miles.

There is a signpost with an orange arrow at the beginning of this trail. You drop through some Mananita brush and into a thick forest as you descend.
A few logs to jump and some steep descents with short steep climbs. After .7 miles of this you come into a recently logged area. At this point look for where the trail drops down to an old road. Take a right {west} on this road. You pass where the trail used to drop in on the right before logging took it out. You will cross a small creek in .2 mile and then there is an uphill rocky section for .1-mile. At the top is 4-way trail intersection…keep to the left here, the orange arrow sign. {The trail on the right we passed when we got off the Pioneer Trail.} Another .1 mile there is another 4-way trail intersection…keep straight here {blue arrow sign}.

As you ride you will see the old South Yuba Canal on the left below you. At this point you are on the old Narrow Gage Rail Road grade. There is a very thick forest here as the trail weaves between the trees. At 1.7 miles from the Pioneer trail you come to the old mill site {pictures}. All that is left there now is a canal and big beams on the brim on the canal. This is a good spot to stop and relax and enjoy the old growth forest. {These tree have been left to grow since the mill was abandoned 100 years ago.} There are hand made spikes in the beams too…but please don't collect them.

Continuing on the trail after the mill you find yourself riding over some old railroad ties in the forest duff {pictures}. Then you ride through a rocky clearing and after 2 steep uphill switchbacks you find yourself in the canal again. A half a mile from the mill the trail splits and you can take either…I take the left. The Trail starts to descent here. The first drop is a rock-infested gully and the others are a little nicer. In a half-mile you pop out on a small log landing at the end off a road, continue on this road and at the intersection take a right up the hill. Keep to the right at the next intersection and continue climbing. {You will see other trails coming into the road at different points. Places to explore in the future…} This part of the dirt road is rather dusty from all the logging. The next road that you encounter is Burlington Ridge Road and you take a right on that. A fast road with a bit of a downhill, it will have you coasting into Skillman Campgrounds. Those folks wanting to continue on with the Pioneer Trail will find the trail it next to the gate.

Enjoy and explore, there are more trails out there...

The Fish

Mill Trail Pictures 1 Mill Trail Pictures 2

Back To The Home Page And Index