Round Mountain Trails

Map from Nevada City to the Yuba River showing the Round Mountain area.

Blowup Map of the Round Mountain Trails area.

 Location: The Round Mountain trails are located in Northern California northeast of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Nevada County. From Sacramento take Hwy 80 east to Auburn. {Gold Country road map.}Take the Hwy 49 Grass Valley - Nevada City exit heading north. It's about a half-hour to Nevada City. Continue on Hwy 49 through Nevada City. Hwy 49 jogs to the left on the other side of town. After this left turn take the second right, North Bloomfield Graniteville Road [there is a fire station on this corner]. You'll want to keep to the right at the top of the hill [Purdon Lake Vera road is the left]. Heading north, it's approximately 6 miles to Rock Creek Road. Look for the Diamond Arrow kids camp and Rock Creek Road is a short distance farther on the left. After the left turn it's .8 miles on a gravel road to the top of the hill. There is a parking area and trailhead on the right where you crest the hill, just beyond Merrimas Road intersection on Rock Creek Road. [You can also access Rock Creek Road by way of Purden Lake Vera Road, it's shorter but rougher.] 
 On the trail: I'll describe my favorite loop. It involves approximately 2000 ft. of gain in about 12 miles. The singletrack trail begins on the southwest corner of the parking area. {Parking area picture}[Don't take the Jeep trail up the hill.] The trail forks almost immediately. {Picture} Take the right fork heading west, the Coyote Ledge Trail. It is .4 miles to the Coyote Ledge. From this vista point you can see the Rock Creek and S. Yuba River watershed, the Sutter Buttes, the valley, and the coastal mountains from Marin to Humbolt County. It's a spectacular view.
After taking in the view the trail presents a short but challenging climb. Take the trail to the left at the split and descend on the Upper Hudson Way Trail. This trail contours the hill as it descends. After a few switchbacks you cross a dirt road. [The trail parallels Hudson Way at this point.] Continue on .4 miles to the next trail split and keep to the right on the Up and Over Trail. This section of singletrack takes you up and over and dropping to the Round Mountain Trail head. There is a wooden sign here with an engraved map showing Round Mountain "Drop", and South Yuba trails. There is a small parking area here too but no other services. {Picture}
The Round Mountain 'Drop" Trail descends 850 ft. [vertical] in 1.7 miles to the South Yuba River Trail. There are six switchbacks on this densely forested trail. At the intersection of the South Yuba Trail you have a choice of heading upstream [Edwards Crossing] or downstream [Purdon Crossing]. {Picture} My favorite is downstream to Purdon Crossing [up stream is more technical. At this point you are 150 ft. or so above the South Yuba River. Take a left [west] to head downstream. The South Yuba is a spectacular trail that contours the steep forested Yuba canyon. It's a couple of miles to the parking area and a little farther to the old bridge. {Picture} [There are no services here; it's rather primitive.] There are many opportunities to swim and relax along the Yuba River. Trails lead to various pools.
I like to take the lower trail out of the parking area on the way back up the hill. There are usually hikers on this trail so be aware. This section of trail loops back into the South Yuba Trail as you head upstream. You get to see the scenery that you might have missed during the descent as you backtrack and grind your way back up the S. Yuba Trail and the switchbacks on Round Mountain "Drop" Trail to the Round Mountain trailhead. [The climb isn't that bad.]
After recovering from the climb take the trailhead road and follow this for .3 miles. Right before the Hudson Way road intersection [the 2nd right], if you look you will see the trail where it crosses the road. Take a right on to the Lower Hudson Way Trail. The trail drops down and crosses Hudson Way Rd. You climb for a bit before the trail starts to level out and turn into a double track. The first trail on the right you encounter is the Rock Creek Flume Trail and 20 ft. past that; the 2nd right is the continuation of the Lower Hudson Way Trail. Take the 2nd right, and continue on the Lower Hudson Way Trail. There is some rolling cross-country before crossing over Hudson Way Road again. This trail is called Rock Creek Rd. Trail and it climbs .6 miles paralleling Rock Creek Road, ending at the parking area on top of Round Mountain.
  Other ride options and routes: There are quite a few other ride options and here are a few that I like to do.
  If you want to ride from Nevada City: Take the N. Bloomfield Road to [left] Purdon Lake Vera Road .5 miles to [first right] Rock Creek Road. Don't take the right where Rock Creek Road jogs instead continue on straight on Rector Road. After crossing the creek Rector Road intersects with Purdon Road. The trailhead for Rock Creek Flume Trail is a short distance before this intersection. It's on the right heading uphill. There is 400 ft of gain in a mile before this trail connects to the Lower Hudson Trail. Take a right to go to Coyote Ledge, or a left to head to the Roumd Mountain trailhead.
  You can also park and start at Rock Creek Flume Trail. There is a spot to park a few cars here. This trail connects with the Lower Hudson Trail in about a mile with 400 ft. of elevation gain.
  For a shorter and less strenuous ride: Start at the Round Mountain parking area off Rock Creek Road; Make a loop by riding the Coyote ledge trail to the Upper Hudson Way Trail. Instead of taking the Up and Over Trail continue straight at the split and cross the dirt road on to the lower Hudson Way Trail. Follow this trail to Rock Creek Rd. Trail, which will bring you back to the parking area.
  For mostly downhill: You can start at the Rock Creek Road top of the hill parking area for the longest downhill [there is some uphill though]. From the parking area take Rock Creek Trail to the Lower Hudson Way Trail that drops out on to the trailhead road. Take a left here, on the road, keeping to the right. The road dead-ends at the Round Mountain "Drop" trailhead. Drop down the switchbacks to the S. Yuba Trail then take a left down to the Purdon Bridge where hopefully your ride is waiting.
  For all downhill: Park at the Round Mountain "Drop" Trailhead and ride to the Purdon Bridge from there. This is also the easiest route.
  For a more extreme downhill to the river: Take the Round Mountain Elevator instead of the Round Mountain "Drop" Trail. The Elevator Trail starts at the first switchback [behind the log), and drops dissecting the switchbacks and ending at the S. Yuba Trail and Round Mountain Trail intersection. Advanced riders only!!! {Not on the map.}
  Other things you might want to know: There is an awful lot of poison oak on these traits, especially the upper trails. There are also deer, bobcat, fox, mountain lion, bear, skunks, squirrels, eagles, hawks, snakes, lizards and other critters living or visiting here. It's fairly wild for being so close to town. Most of these lands the trails are on are BLM or Ca. State Park property. The Rock Creek Flume Trail and some of the river trails cross some private property. There are more trails on top, do a little exploring. A little courtesy and keeping your speed under control will do a lot towards keeping these trails open. Also, if we don't use them we'll lose them!
Enjoy, The Fish

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