Trip Ideas

Donner Rim Trail on sunny summer day

Never Take Hiking For Granite – Five Great Nevada County Hikes

From walking amongst history in Nevada City to taking in the High Sierra above Truckee these five Nevada County hikes will leave you refreshed and energized.

Tips & Resources

Staying in Nevada City or Grass Valley? Check out Bear Yuba Land Trust’s trails portal to find the right trail or trails for you. For the Truckee region visit the Truckee Trail Foundation’s interactive trailmap.

Regardless of shape, size, or physical abilities everyone is welcome to experience the beauty and awe of the northern Sierra Nevada on Visit Truckee-Tahoe’s Trails for EveryBODY™ trail system.

If it’s your first time visiting or your hundredth we urge you to follow the “Leave No Trace” principles.


By Alex Silgalis

Science has proven that spending time in nature is beneficial to your health. Exposing yourself to the natural world reduces stress, promotes healing, and helps provide a sense of overall well-being. Oak-filled meadows. Mountain summits with great views. An assortment of lakes and streams to take in. If it’s your first time going for a stroll or you’re an ardent lover of the great outdoors, these five great Nevada County hikes will spark your sense of adventure.

Hirschman Trail

Length: 4 miles (Out and Back); Difficulty: Easy

Overlooking Hirschmans Pond near Nevada City CA
Image appears courtesy: Bear Yuba Land Trust

If you’re looking for an easy, stress-free kid friendly hike to expose your young ones to the great outdoors, this is a perfect option. Located just a mile outside the beating heart of Nevada City, this little gem provides everyone an opportunity to enjoy forests filled with pines and black oaks as well as a pond. One of the highlights on the trail is a 40-foot-long trestle built in the same style and technique the railroads used in the late 1800’s. This is also a great trail for those who want to go for a jog or leisurely walk.

Deer Creek Tribute Trail System

Length: Up To 7.9 Miles (Depending on route); Difficulty: Easy / Moderate

suspension bridge on Deer Creek Tribute Trail
Image appears courtesy: Nevada City Chamber of Commerce

Depending on where you start, the mileage can increase to almost eight miles in distance. Following the creek that Nevada City was built around (a tributary of the Yuba), the trail is a mix of backroads, paved sections, and even dirt paths. Along the way, you’ll get a better understanding of the county’s history as well as the natural beauty via interpretive trail signs. A highlight on the Deer Creek Trail system is two footbridges that cross it.

Cascade Canal Trail

Length: 8.6 miles (Out and Back); Difficulty: Easy / Moderate

Cascade Canal Trailhead
Image appears courtesy: Bear Yuba Land Trust

At an elevation of 3,200’ above sea level, this shaded trail follows the sinewy path of the Cascade Canal and offers cooler temps compared to other trails in the area due to its altitude. This reasonably flat excursion is under a canopy of Douglas firs and dogwoods. The fall gifts you with changing colors. While the spring provides beautiful wildflower bouquets. The best viewpoint is ¼ mile east of the Orene Wetherall trailhead. From here, you get a bird’s eye view of downtown Nevada City and the ridges beyond.

Note: If your dog doesn’t like loud sounds, be aware there is a gun range adjacent to the trail approximately four miles in.

Donner Lake Rim Trail: Castle Valley To Donner Ridge

Length: 15.6 Miles (Out and Back); Difficulty: Challenging

Donner Rim Trail on sunny summer day
Image appears courtesy: Visit Truckee-Tahoe

Not to be mistaken for the “TRT”, the Donner Lake Rim Trail or “DLRT” is designed as a 23-mile multi-use trail on the mountains and ridges surrounding Donner Lake. Currently, there are fifteen miles built with nine accessible via bike. It is and will be a literal cornucopia of easy, moderate, and challenging segments. There are multiple ways to access the trail including the Castle Valley trailhead from Donner Summit. Over the length of this gem that climbs more than 2,000 vertical feet, you’ll find jaw-dropping views of Donner Lake, the High Sierra, and even the Pacific Crest. You can even start from the Trout Creek trailhead just west of downtown Truckee. Not enough? Here’s a few more ideas of hiking & trail running surrounding the historic High Sierra town of Truckee.

Ridgeline Nature Loop

Length: 1 mile; Difficulty Easy

Ridgeline Nature Loop near Truckee California
Image appears courtesy: Visit Truckee-Tahoe

If some of these look a bit long or challenging for your 1st wilderness experience, consider the Ridgeline Nature Loop. Starting at the Sawtooth trailhead, the flat dirt path will provide the tranquility and peacefulness that even Henry David Thoreau would appreciate. It’s suitable for people of all ages, abilities, as well as families looking for an easy hike with young kiddos. The loop is ADA accessible, accommodating wheel chairs, strollers, and strider bikes. Most of all, be sure to stop at the halfway point and take in gorgeous views of Truckee, Castle Peak, and Donner Summit at the scenic overlook. If you want to find more trails that are all-inclusive and universally designed for all shapes, sizes, and abilities, be sure to visit Visit Truckee-Tahoe’s Trails for EveryBODY™.

Take that first step into these Nevada County hikes. As John Muir so eloquently stated,

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”


Alex Silgalis

Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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