Pioneer Trail

 Getting onto the Pioneer Trail from Nevada City: There are quite a few spots to start your ride the favorites being the Omega Rest Stop and the 5 Mile House on Hwy. 20. Other spots include Last Chance Rd.or Lowell Hill Rd. now, Skillman Campground, and White Cloud Campground Of course you can start in Nevada City too.
The upper Pioneer Trail above, and east of the rest stop, has been rerouted. My map shows it crossing the Hwy20 east of the rest stop. Now the trail has been routed so that it stays on the south side of Hwy20 dropping down to Bear Valley. I'll revise my map soon. The new section is well away from the highway and is a little soft but very enjoyable.
 Starting From the Omega Rest Stop is the most popular spot to access the Upper Pioneer Trail. This is the preferred downhill route.
The Omega Rest Stop is 19 miles from Nevada City, east on Hwy. 20. There is a great view of the Omega Diggings and the South Yuba Canyon at the rest stop.
You will find the Pioneer trail across Highway 20 and back in the forest about 100ft off the highway. There is a access trail from the highway you just need to look for it. There is a motorcycle trail nearer to the highway that you cross to access the pioneer.
There's also a short Rest stop Trail that drops down on the north side of Hwy 20 from the Omega Rest stop. Motorcycles use it. Look for the start in the west end of the rest stop. After a mile you come to the Old Omega Rd. If you are riding the Pioneer Trail you will need to cross to the south side of Hwy 20 here to access it.
The Upper Pioneer Trail is an intermediate to advanced trail and runs parallel to the south side of Hwy 20, from the Bear Valley to White Cloud Campgrounds. Here the trail crosses the highway 20 to the Lower Pioneer Trail.{Upper Pioneer Trail picture.}The Lower Pioneer Trail is a little wider and runs next to the north side of Hwy. 20 passing the Harmony Store {5 Mile House} and ending a little past Willow Valley Road. Most people stop at the 5 Mile House unless they are riding all the way to Nevada City. The Lower Pioneer Trail is a favorite for beginners because of the mellow grade and fun for the advanced because of the humps and bumps and fast pace. The upper and lower trails are about 7 miles each so it's a 14-mile downhill from the Omega Rest Stop to the 5 Mile house. {Picture}
Other start possibilities: Another favorite spot to start is the 5 Mile House. Especially in the winter when the upper trail is usually closed due to snow. Parking is available next to the Harmony Store. It's a 14-mile ride to White Cloud Campground {where the trail crosses the road} and back to the 5 Mile House. This is a great trail to learn to mountain bike. It is a good place for beginners to build their skills and endurance and you can buy trail munchies and use the phone, toilet, and tables at the Harmony Store too. Across the highway is the historic 5 Mile House if you are looking for fine dining.
  I used to like starting from the Last Chance Rd. a mile and a half above the rest stop. They have rebuilt the top end of the Pioneer so it doesn't run this way anymore. I would start at Lowell Hill Rd. now. It's the road half a mile east of Last Chance Rd and on the south side of Hwy 20. The new section of the Pioneer Trail crosses Lowell Hill Rd about a half a mile from Hwy 20. Another good ride to head East from the rest stop and drop into Bear Valley and then back. The Bear Valley meadow on the south side of the highway is open for hiking and is a good side trip.
  If you are doing a downhill to Nevada City the Pioneer trail crosses the Hwy 20 at the Harmony Store then ends in less than a mile after passing Willow Valley Road. You can ride Willow Valley Road into Nevada City or jump on the Snow Mountain Flume Trail. The Snow Mtn. Flume, or ditch, is a easy ride to town. Its a nice ride as a short section for beginners. I often see folks parking on the pullover where the ditch crosses Hwy 20 to access it.
As you drop down Willow Valley Rd. keep a eye out for the ditch on the right, north, hopping onto the water canal. {If you are going to fast you will pass right by it…it's less than a mile down Willow Valley Road}. This will eventually take you back to Hwy. 20 where you will need to cross the highway to continue on the flume trail. When you come to the water treatment plant drop down the road and around the gate and down the hill to Hwy.20. Cross the highway here and take Nevada Street into Nevada City.
  The Miners trail, another way into town is popular, but unfortunately is on private property... It starts west of Harmony Ridge Rd. about 200 ft down Hwy 20 look for the big oak tree on the right side of Hwy 20, trail starts here. The trail runs above, and parallels Hwy 20. Miners Trail after a few miles dumps out on Hwy 20 a couple hundred feet above where the Snow Mountain Flume Trail crosses the road. So when you come to Hwy 20 drop down 20 and the first right is the Snow Mtn Flume. Jump on the Snow Mtn Flume, and ride the water ditch to the water treatment plant. Then drop down the road, around the fence and you end up across Hwy 20 from Nevada St. Take Nevada Street into Nevada City.
  The Lone Grave Trail starts from the 5 Mile house. Trail starts across the highway from the Pioneer Trail, and continues up the south side of Hwy. 20 to the Lone Grave where you can cross the highway and jump on the Pioneer Trail to continue your ride. This is a newer trail and easy to find if you look.{Picture of the Lone Grave} You can access Scotts Drop Trail to Scotts Flat Lake from this trail too, see my Scotts Drop map.
  If you plan on riding from Nevada City you can simply ride the paved Nevada Street to Willow Valley Road to the Pioneer Trail, but that's boring climb.
A better route but a bit harder to find is to ride up Nevada Street and cross the highway 20 and take a right onto the frontage road on the north side of the highway. Take the first left heading up the steep paved hill. This short climb will bring you to the water treatment plant, after you get around the fence. From here you can hop on the Snow Mountain Flume Trail. Look for the water ditch trail at the top of the Water treatment plant. This trail crosses Hwy20 and ends on Willow Valley Road. Take a left on Willow Valley Road and its about a mile uphill to the Pioneer Trail on Hwy20. You can take Miners Trail back to town or continue on east on the Pioneer Trail to the 5 mile house and beyond.
  The newest section of the Pioneer trail does continue past the rest stop. The rerouted trail crosses Excelsior Rd, Steephollow Creek, and Lowell Rd. before dropping into the Bear Valley on a short section of trail the FTA built. You ride on a old highway grade section where before you finish the descent into the valley ending on Zeibright Mine Road. I don't have that new section east of here that ends above Spaulding Lake mapped yet. That unmapped section of the Pioneer Trail section from Bowman Rd. area and west is a downhill only section.
If you have any comments or questions e-mail me at

Back To The Home Page And Index