Trail Manager: South Yuba River State Park | Contact Sierra District Office at (530) 273-3884
Length: 0.75 one way to Hoyt Crossing beach. An optional extension up the old Hoyt Crossing Road adds 1.6 miles each way, for a round trip of about 4.5 miles
Altitude Change: Cumulative elevation gain on the trail to Hoyt Crossing is about 200′. The optional extension adds a 1000-foot ascent.
Trail Surface: Natural Earth
Rules: No alcoholic beverages or glass containers. Dogs on leash; no bicycles or motorized vehicles; no smoking or fires; no camping.
Trailhead: From the north end of Nevada City where Highway 49 turns west toward Downieville, go 6.9 miles on Highway 49 north. As you near the river you will see a sign on your right that says “South Yuba River Access”. Just 0.1 mile past the sign, and before crossing the highway bridge, turn right down a short drive into a paved parking lot (N39 17.833 W121 05.351). Walk across the old bridge to reach the trailhead at the far end of the bridge (N39 17.898 W121 05.377).
Trail Facts: This trail leads to swimming holes along the South Yuba River and historic Hoyt Crossing. Look for a Hoyt Crossing sign where the trail arrives at the main beach at a large swimming hole. The “beach” is in fact an alluvial bar composed of boulders, cobble, and patches of sand. Its configuration changes seasonally as the river floods and ebbs; it is a clothing-optional area. Directly across the river, is the inlet for the Miner’s Tunnel. An optional extension up the old Hoyt Crossing Road makes for a vigorous hike. Hoyt Crossing Road was an early road connecting the town of Nevada (now Nevada City) with the gold fields of Columbia and the North San Juan area. The road crossed the South Yuba at Hoyt Crossing via a toll bridge operated by Moses Hoyt, the first mayor of Nevada City. About a half mile into the extension trail, there’s a good view of the Devil’s Slide across the canyon. Near the top, the valley narrows and the trail draws closer to a seasonal stream, then reaches a wide dirt road in the broad saddle between Montezuma and Bunker Hills. This makes a good lunch spot and turnaround point. Views along the trail include the drainage of Shady Creek, and the San Juan Ridge. On a clear winter day the canyon of the Middle Fork of the Yuba, with the Central Valley and Coast Range Beyond, can be seen. Along this trail, tree lovers can see oracle oaks (Quercus x morehus), hybrids of black oaks and interior live oaks (photo below). The inconspicuous trees are easiest to spot in winter: when the live oaks are still green and the black oaks have dropped their leaves, oracle oaks’ mottled yellow leaves stand out.