Black Swan Trail


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Trail Manager: California Department of Fish and Wildlife | Contact North Central Region (916) 358-2900

Length: 2 miles

Altitude Change: 200′

Trail surface: Natural Earth

Rules: Foot and bike only. Dogs on leash. No motorized vehicles. Stay on trails. No smoking, No littering. Keep all cattle gates on the trail closed.

Trailhead: The trailhead is located off of Mooney Flat Road in Smartsville, CA. From the intersection of Hwy 49 and Hwy 20 near Grass Valley, drive 13 miles toward Smartsville, turn right (North) on Mooney Flat Road. If you see the Yuba County sign on Highway 20, you have gone too far. Once you are on Mooney Flat Road, drive approximately ¼ mile. Look for a green Black Swan Preserve sign. Turn left into small, parking lot area.

If coming from Yuba City/ Marysville area, head East on Highway 20. Be on the lookout after passing the California Department of Forestry (CDF) Fire station on the left. Soon after you enter Nevada County, turn left onto Mooney Flat road. Head down Mooney Flat approximately a 1/4 mile and look for the dirt parking lot on the left. Turn down into the lot and park. There is a trail head sign leading visitors from the parking lot onto the trail.

Trail Facts: Completed in the summer of 2014, this beautiful two-mile loop trail is located in far Western Nevada County on Black Swan Preserve near the town of Smartsville. Built by BYLT’s trail team and volunteers, the community-supported trail weaves through blue oak and gray pine woodlands. On a hydraulic cliff escarpment, hikers will catch spectacular views of the Black Swan Pond. At the pond look for waterfowl such as the American Dipper and Belted Kingfisher, Western pond turtles and other aquatic life. Black Swan’s grassland pastures, rolling hills and meadows provide habitat for bears, bald eagles, mountain lions and deer. Endangered, threatened and rare and/ or declining species in the area include: Valley elderberry, longhorn beetle, Western burrowing owl and black rail. Black Swan Trail tells the story of the Gold Rush. Once a noisy hydraulic mining site, both sides of the ridge the trail now sits on was altered by high powered water cannons in the search for gold. Without the 1884 Sawyer Decision, the ridge that the trail sits on would be gone.

Today, the Black Swan Trail is ideal for observing wildflowers and birds. There is an intact wetland that is a critical habitat for the Western pond turtle, as well as bass, an array of waterfowl including the American Dipper and Belted Kingfisher. This landscape near the confluence of Deer Creek and the Lower Yuba River is rich in riparian habitat, blue oak woodlands, wetlands, and great groundwater-fed ponds. Archeological features of Black Swan Preserve include relics of an 1800’s-era ranch, traditional Native American salmon fishing pools, Gold Rush-era town sites, great hard rock tunnels and towering bluffs of Blue Point Mine which yielded a fortune in gold.

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