Spalding Reservoir

Hiking For Good and Hank Meals team up for another adventure into the Sierra Nevada

Archaeologist Hank Meals will lead a hike on the Spaulding Trail to Fordyce Creek this Saturday, June 8.

The six-mile moderate to challenging outing is part of an ongoing year-long series exploring cultural landscapes at different elevations within the Yuba, Bear and American River Watersheds called  Yuba Trails and Tales exclusively for Hiking For Good and Outlandish Experiences.

Photo by Hank Meals

Hikers will meet at the Nevada County Government Center parking lot in Nevada City at 8:30 a.m. under the solar panels near the jail and caravan up to the trailhead. Participants should arrive back to town by 3:30 p.m. The cost is $35.

“The air is clean and the sky is vivid blue with snow on the surrounding peaks,” said Meals, who is known locally as the author of hiking books, Yuba Trails 1 & 2, and The River.

Located at 5,000 feet, Spaulding Trail weaves through a mixture of conifers, two kinds of manzanita, black oaks, boulders and big granite outcroppings. For indigenous people, this valley, where the South Yuba River and Fordyce Creek merge, was probably one of the last places to gather acorns while heading up country.

Lake Spaulding is a reservoir created by a 275-foot-high dam across the canyon of the South Yuba River. The South Yuba Water Company completed the first version of the Spaulding Dam in 1892 – a stone dam that flooded a broad and flat glacial valley at the confluence of the South Fork of the Yuba and the North Branch of the South Yuba (Fordyce Creek).

Photo by Hank Meals

“Water is the leading commodity of the Sierra Nevada – exceeding timber sales, agriculture, grazing, mining and tourism. In northern California, up to 75 percent of the state’s precipitation falls on the northern half while 80 percent of the water is used downstream for agricultural, and urban demand in the central and southern part of the state. A major loss associated with these benefits has been the deterioration of biotic integrity in aquatic and riparian habitats along the natural stream courses. The South Fork of the Yuba, below Spaulding, is of particular concern,” said Hank.

Along the hike, we’ll learn how the demands of the Gold Rush, agriculture and domestic water supplies, timber, and hydroelectricity forever shaped this landscape. The 39-mile stretch of the South Fork of the Yuba below Spaulding Dam to its confluence with the main trunk of the Yuba River, at Point Defiance, is a California Wild and Scenic River.

Hank Meals is known for his extensive and intimate knowledge of his habitat. A prolific writer and author of several books on hiking trails in the Yuba Watershed, Hank shares information, stories and discoveries about the topography, natural history and culture of the Yuba River basin in the Sierra Nevada. Read Hank’s blog at:

Register for the hike HERE.

Last minute registrants can email or call 530-913-3067 and be prepared to bring cash the day of the event.

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Content provided by Laura Petersen