A good and varied walk or jog in the vicinity of Rattlesnake Road off Highway 174 in Grass Valley with a quiet and lovely forest walk at the southern end. Think of the trail route as a lollipop: a long leg paralleling Rattlesnake Road, and a loop in the Rattlesnake Ridge subdivision. Take your pick to do all or part. This trail is a joint project of the Rattlesnake Neighborhood Association and Bear Yuba Land Trust.
Place: Nevada City, CA
Season: Year around
Land: Mixed public and private
Trail signs: Nevada County Land Trust signs
Length: 2.3 miles one way
Altitude change: About 200′ gain going north to south
Trail surface: Mostly native soil with a short section of paved road to complete a loop
Environment: Mixed conifers and deciduous trees. Poison oak in some places.
Rules: Foot and bike only. Dogs on leash. No motorized vehicles. Stay on the trail; respect private property. All users watch for each other and pass safely.
Northern Trailhead: The northern end of this trail is at the intersection of Highway 174 and Rattlesnake Road between downtown Grass Valley and the community of Cedar Ridge. Park in wide areas along Rattlesnake Road. You will find the trail running along the east side of Rattlesnake Road just south of Highway 174 (N 39.19947 W 121.03493).
Southern Trailheads: From Highway 174, go one mile south on Rattlesnake Road. Stop at the intersection of Rattlesnake Road and Rattlesnake Ridge Drive.
(1) On the east side of this intersection you will find the trailhead for the section of trail that goes north, back to Highway 174. (N 39.18495 W 121.03168). As you begin going down this trail, keep straight for about 400 feet on a graveled road trace that parallels Rattlesnake Road, cross a paved side road called Golden Lily Court, then join the path along the canal going north.
(2) At the intersection of Rattlesnake Road and Rattlesnake Ridge Drive, just as you start up Rattlesnake Ridge Drive, look on your left for a large covered mailbox kiosk. The section of trail that loops through the Rattlesnake Ridge subdivision begins left of the kiosk as you face it (N 39.18478 W 121.03182). Park off paved roads where there is a wide shoulder.
(3) There is an alternate trailhead for the Rattlesnake Ridge subdivision loop at the end of Silver Pick Court, off Rattlesnake Ridge Drive. The trail starts inconspicuously at the far (southern) side of the cul-de-sac (N 39.17649 W 121.03154). If driving to this trailhead, please park carefully to minimize any disturbance to residents. A good option is to park on the shoulder just as you enter Silver Pick Court and then walk the short distance to the cul-de-sac to enter the trail.
Rattlesnake Road Section. About 1.4 miles one way. Heading south along Rattlesnake Road from Highway 174 the trail closely parallels the road for about 1/2 mile to Highland Drive. (As you cross Lower Colfax Road just keep going along Rattlesnake Road and you will shortly find the trail continuing.) When you reach Highland Drive, the footpath ends and you go east along Highland Drive for about 250 yards until you see the water of the Rattlesnake Canal on your right. Turn right here and follow the pretty path along the canal for about 0.4 mile until you see a paved street. This is Golden Lily Court. Cross the street and take the path on the right side of the canal. About 200 yards later you will arrive at the trailhead by the intersection of Rattlesnake Road and Rattlesnake Ridge Drive. To find the trailhead, look for that intersection up to your right and walk toward it. Do not keep going on the dirt path that continues south in this vicinity.
Rattlesnake Ridge Section. About 1.7 miles if done as a loop. The trail goes into woods on the left of the covered mailbox kiosk near a stop sign just as you enter Rattlesnake Ridge Drive from Rattlesnake Road. It meanders generally parallel to Rattlesnake Road going south for about 0.4 mile where it crosses a paved road (this is the south end of Rattlesnake Ridge Drive) and then continues south, gradually getting farther away from Rattlesnake Road and feeling more remote. About 1/3 of a mile into this stretch, the trail begins to turn west (away from Rattlesnake Road) and to climb in elevation, rather steeply toward the end, until it ends on the paved cul-de-sac of Silver Pick Court. To complete a loop hike, follow Silver Pick Court a short distance out to Rattlesnake Ridge Drive, turn left (north) and walk along Rattlesnake Ridge Drive back to the intersection at Rattlesnake Road. The paved portion of this loop is about 0.6 mile.