South Yuba Canal Trail

Access: The Start area for this trail is 21 miles east of Nevada City off Hwy 20. {See the Gold Country Map.} I usually park at Excelsior road off Hwy 20. This road is 2 miles past the Omega Rest Stop on the right. {The first right after the rest stop.} Its on a corner and easy to miss…there is no road sign for it either.
  Comments: This route accesses a rather remote canyon area. Its a gorgeous area even with all the clearcutting going on. I rarely see anyone in the area but there was a lot of work done on the canals early this summer. Some sections of the canal have been graded to get rid of the brush so its a little soft and dusty in spots. The trail is rather soft with the pine nettles anyway and takes more energy than you would think to go downstream... Don't bother the equipment or go swimming or rafting in their canals and PG&E wont care if you use their canal for a trail. I do see bears and other wild life on the canals so be aware. You can skip the first section of trail and drop down at the tunnel off Lowell Road too. {It's another mile or so down the road...look for the road crossings. The canal is on the right and only .1 mile down the road so you will know if you are on the right track soon.} I'm guessing that there is 900 ft of climb in 15 miles on this ride depending on your route.
  On The Trail: After parking at Excelsior Road you need to get on Hwy 20 heading east for .2 mile to Lowell Hill Road the next right. This is a fast downhill on the Hwy as you crossover Steephollow Canyon and come up the other side to Lowell Road.
  Lowell Hill follows below the highway before dropping down the ridge on a lightly graveled road. There is a small climb and at 1.6 miles and the top of the hill there is a Overland Immigrant sign on the left. Here the road drops down and there is less gravel and more dirt and rock. You pass private property signs and cabins on this section. The road continues descending here then at 2.5 miles you will see another Overland Immigrant sign on the left. Lowell climbs a steep hill here and there is a dirt road on the left and the right here. The right has a gate on it. Take the left.
  Dropping down this dirt road you pass a few right turns and a left as you descend .8 miles to the canal. Take a right on the canal and head downstream {heading upstream you end up at Hwy 20 but it is all boardwalk} This first section is a 20 inch wide metal boardwalk for a .1 mile{picture}. It can be ridden but you should walk if it bothers you. This is the longest section of boardwalk, most the others are 60 ft long…except for the bridge. After the board walk ends you are ridding on the canal berm. As you ride there are open areas and heavy forested areas as well as a few board walks to walk. There is a road above the canal most the way but its only accessible where there is some sort of bridge across the canal {unless you want to get real wet}{picture}. You pass a small concrete block building and some other canal things… There are sections that were worked on this year. They regraded the top berm of the canal in areas throughout the ride, a few miles total…it should make for a better ride next year but its not bad. 
At 5.6 miles into the ride you come to the canal tunnel under Lowell Road and through the ridge. At this point you need to ride the access road up the steep hill. Over the top of the ridge you "T" into Lowell Road {there is a little gravel on this, the main road}. Right on the other side of Lowell Road take the dirt road that descends .1 mile to the canal tunnel on the other side of the ridge. At the canal tunnel you need to take a left and drop down below the canal to access the berm of the canal.
  Well there are more boardwalks and some more areas that they graded the burm as you continue downstream. At 9.6 miles you come to the canal bridge across Steephollow Canyon {picture}. This area was recently clear-cut unfortunately…. After the crossing continue on downstream, more boardwalks.
At 10.8 miles you come to a road that crosses the canal. This road will take you up to Excelsior Road or you can continue on the canal a few more miles to the Excelsior Road crossing.
  It's a 600 ft climb to Hwy20 .The first road crossing the canal will take you up the hill, and after a steep climb with views of what you were just ridding, you crest the ridge and in a mile intersect at the "Y" with Excelsior Road. Continue North on Excelsior Road and in a mile or so you arrive at Hwy 20.
If you decide to continue on the canal after a few miles take a right at the next road crossing, Excelsior Road and ascend this road. {It's possible to go all the way to Chalk Bluff Road on this canal but there gets to be an awful lot of boardwalks and narrow ones…I get tired of carrying my bike!} At this crossing there are some structures and the road below drops into Excelsior Point Mine{picture}. {There is a gate here too, its not locked and should be closed when passing.}It's a steep climb up the ridge at first. After .3 mile it gets a little less steep you see a road come in on the left. Just past this road a 100 feet on the right is a trail, Excelsior RxR Trail. For those needing more punishment this will take you over to the Pioneer Trail east of Chalk Bluff Road. Its a trail for the more hard core though.
After passing this trail the Excelsior Road becomes a little less steep. You pass a old gate and come to a view spot with views of where you were cycling, and views of the valley and coastal mountain around the North Bay area. Continuing on up the hill you see roads joining the main road, and the closer to Hwy 20 the nicer the grade gets. Its 3 miles to Hwy 20

Trail Pictures 1 Trail Pictures 2 Trail Pictures 3

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