An easy 0.8 mile ramble between a popular city park and the historic heart of Empire Mine State Park. There’s lots to see and do at either end of this trail.
Place: In town; Grass Valley, CA
Season: Year around
Land: Mostly state park land
Trail Signs: Signed but not named
Length: 0.8 mile one way
Altitude Change: 157 feet
Trail surface: Native soil
Environment: Mixed conifers and deciduous trees over former mining area; along south side of a small creek drainage.
Rules: Foot and bike only; dogs on leash; no motorized vehicles; stay on the trail; respect private property.
Trailhead(s): Memorial Park trailhead: Enter Race Street from Colfax Hwy (174), park vehicle, walk up the first un-signed paved lane on south side of Race Street, just past tennis courts. Enter dirt trail on your left about 500′ up the lane. There is a trail sign. (N39.21304 W121.05482)
Empire Mine trailhead: From the main visitor parking lot at Empire Mine State Historic Park, cross East Empire Street into a graveled parking and picnic area. The trail begins a few feet beyond a picnic table you’ll see ahead as you enter the parking area. Elev. 2,662′.
Trail tips: Memorial Park in Grass Valley is a popular place in summer for tennis, swimming, picnicking, tossing the Frisbee and various events. You can walk there from historic downtown Grass Valley by following Neal Street east from the landmark Del Oro Theater. Neal Street becomes Colfax Avenue, along which you will find several good delicatessens and restaurants.
The trail from Memorial Park brings you right into the heart of Empire Mine State Historic Park where you can tour the visitor center, picnic, hike further on an extensive web of trails (get map at Visitor Center) and see historic buildings and mining artifacts. If you walk about 400′ east along East Empire Street from the top of this trail, you will find a short dirt road on your left leading to the historic “Rowe Shaft and Head Frame.” The wooden head frame operated from 1945 to 1959 and is still standing tall. It was named after William Lamar Rowe, a well-known mining superintendent who served the Empire Mine for many years.