Explore the most popular camping trails near Nevada City with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great hike in the fall. The only strenuous part is coming up the hill from Jones Bar. The independence part of the trail is very easy and pretty.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Great trail!

*gravel road up to trailhead is a slow go, wash boards and rocky rocky.
*beautiful wonderful marvelous scenic easy short hike with lakes and forest.
*went in early November, so the crowds of summer are absent....
*lots of gorgeous other hiking in the area around here to explore.
*definately will come back here to explore some more.

Wonderful trail!

hiking
1 month ago

Went here for a hike with my boyfriend and he proposed to me at the end of the hike at glacier lake! Couldn’t have been better! Trail itself was maintained good, mostly dirt, sand, some granite but not as much as we expected. Passed a lot of beautiful lakes along the way. Saw zero people on way up and only a few at the end. We went on a Friday morning though so likely more populated summer / weekends. Brought our dog. Off leash no problem ! Lots of squirrels and chipmunks. Beautiful lakes, good tree coverage, fall colors, scenic overlook. Was not a difficult hike at all. Very gradual inclines. Hadn’t been hiking once this year but have done multiple backpacking trips in our past. This was a perfect gradual reintroduction to getting back in nature. Lots of camping spots.

We took a 2001 Camry down the road, made it the whole way. Definitely would have been easier in a 4 wheel drive car or a car with higher clearance. Wouldn’t recommend taking a little car. The road was ok but the very end had a huge drop off ditch that was tricky to navigate. But we managed ! If it was rainy or had been a wet season the road would have been a lot worse.

This trail is one of the best I’ve been to. I’m a beginner hiker and went with an experienced hiker who had done the trail once before. It’s not marked in certain spots so it’s good to go with someone you know. Making it to Penner Lake, starting at Carr Lake took us about 5 hours to complete walking at normal pace and only stopping to take in the view and having lunch once we got to Penner. I’d rate the terrain as medium with mild inclines once you get closer to Penner it gets a little steep, but nothing too bad. It’s a great hike in October! Not a lot of people on Monday (Columbus Day!) but we were glad to find a hunter on the trail and about three other small groups of hikers. One thing I learned here is you can hike, backpack in and camp, camp at the campgrounds, bring a pet, come for the day or the night, it will not disappoint. Every single step provides a new scene and a new Lake to see. Breathtaking views. And it didn’t cost us anything but fuel and the food we brought for snacks and lunch. I can’t wait to come back and camp here. We did the entire 6 miles in one afternoon and we’re pretty tired by the time we reached the parking lot. Stopped in Grass-valley at Big A’s for early dinner-perfect ending for a perfect day hike trip!

This is a great trail, but as mentioned previously, it's getting too popular and not as secluded. Hard to find camp spots at Penner as there really is only one side that is flat enough for camping. But it's still one of my favorites! Just a little harder on the climb towards the end, but nothing too too strenuous.

Epic short hike. Best part is the swimming hole at the bottom. Just remember it can be very hot here in the summer. We filmed the swimming hole and you can find it on my Youtube channel Chris and Bobs adventure channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udowQ5aASpQ&t=14s

backpacking
3 months ago

Just finished this hike over Labor Day. Started at the Carr Lake TH. The road really wasn't that bad up to the TH. Just take it slow and go around the big rocks. Not much parking up there at the TH. Creative parking for sure. The trail starts on a dirt road, travels past Carr Lake and Freely Lake. Lots of families and kids swimming here. For the most part this 6 mile hike to Glacier Lake is pretty easy if you're in good shape. Last two miles is uphill, but really not bad. I did it in less than 3 hours with a full pack and several stops. Lots of campsites at Glacier, but this busy weekend made it pretty crowded with some loud campers late at night and early am. Hiked the Sandy Ridge trail back west the next day. The ridge affords some fabulous views, but the 1000 foot drop is on a rocky, steep trail, typical of older trails without switchbacks. We took the north trail up towards Sawmill Lake finally camping at Rock Lake almost 8 miles later. You pass Shotgun lake on the way to Sawmill. No camping there. This section of trail is through forest and really no place to camp. The climb to Rock Lake was long. Rock lake is nothing spectacular but had a few nice sites. Day 3 we hike from Rock Lake south past Penner Lake and back to Carr Lake. This section is really beautiful with lakes that have some private sites near rocky cliffs. Much prettier than Rock or the Shotgun lake side of this loop. Lots of people out here on day hikes which is what I expected for Labor Day. I would do this hike early season when there might be more water and when there's snow in the higher country. I gave this 4 stars only because there were so many people out there!

Accessing the trailhead was fairly easy. the last 2.5 miles or so is dirt road, but the majority of this road is well maintained. It was really only the last quarter mile that was really bad. My Ford Fusion definitely dragged bottom a bit, so for power profile cars I would recommend stopping short and parking a little ways back from the main trailhead parking area

The trail itself was beautiful with many amazing views. The last part of the trail, maybe 1/2 a mile from Lake Penner is the steepest portion and gets a little rugged; but is likely manageable for kids 4+

Other reviewers have mentioned an accumulation of human waste and toilet paper around Lake Penner. I did not encounter too many campers around Lake Penner (there were far more campers around some of the other lower elevation lakes along the trail) and did not see the same accumulation of waste mentioned in other reviews. That being said, I did not traverse around the entirety of the lake, so cannot tell you what it is like around the entirety of the lake. However, I did not come across a single piece of trash on my way in or out and actually thought the trail was well kept given the number of people I encountered.

Unfortunately, Patrick’s review is right, this area is just too impacted. There is a fair amount of toilet paper scattered about the area, as well as other trash. It’s too bad, because it was a great hike and the views are amazing.

This is my second time hiking this trail. This place is quickly becoming overcrowded and abused. Lots of toilet paper and human waste at Penner lake. Disappointing to see so many careless hikers and campers there.

I will not be coming back here. Trash, left over garbage in the shore of the lake, it’s sad.

The ascent up Sand Ridge Trail can be difficult, but beautiful views from the top. Beautiful and not heavily trafficked.

Easy and gorgeous trail

Great 4 day hike. Late start camp at Island Lake, 5 Lakes via Sand Ridge, Glacier Lake, Round Lake, out. 5 adults, 2 kids. Meteors.

Great trail! Smokey from the fires but still pretty! We will be back to backpack in and stay a night. Easy trail too!

Echoing other reviews, the road in is a bit rough but the trail is great and moderately challenging in difficulty. We had great views that were hindered by the smoke from all the fires. I definitely concur with the earlier reviewer’s recommendation to return via the windswept Sand Ridge trail. It gives you great views all around.

backpacking
4 months ago

great spot. great lakes. great swim. great hike. great view. cows.

4 months ago

I don’t see how you can do better than this hike. You have multiple lakes, forests, stunning views, rocks of different colors and types, flowers, butterflies. And all in six miles with only moderate climbing. Highly recommended. The road to Carr Lake is challenging but our Ford Cmax made it - we just stopped a few hundred feet before the parking lot when the bumps got a bit more than we could handle.

Our second trip to Penner lake. The road is still pretty rough getting to the trail head but it's worth it! We had a great trip, although it seems like it's becoming more and more of a party spot. 1998's Eve 6 blasting through a stereo at 1AM seems to be kind of missing the point of the place.

July 29th, 2018 - Arrived early-afternoon and originally planned on aclimating a bit before heading out, but we were too excited so after taking the last parking spot at the trailhead we started out.

This was a gorgeous, well identified trail. The weather was perfect the wind was just strong enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. That final climb into Penner lake as the sun was setting was TOUGH but not crazy. The trail had been deserted but the lake was almost full of campers. We had to camp set back a bit but it was perfect. It was very windy all night but not too cold.

We actually continued to the Lindsey Lake Trail the next day, I will post that review on that post but caution you that if you have to hike from Lindsey Lakes to the Carr/Feely trailhead - don't! It is 3+ miles uphill on seemingly abandoned forest service roads. It was AWFUL, although, I'd totally do again because the rest of the loop was lovely!

Hiked this trail on July 6, 2018. Stunning wildflowers, well maintained trail, and gorgeous views. Uphill for about 1/2 a mile just before Glacier Lake it gets rocky and a little bit technical, exposed and windy. Middle section is mostly level, soft pine needles and partial shade. Last bit of uphill is not hard, just tiring. Another hiker told us she likes to return in a loop via Sand Ridge but said the descent is steep and challenging and she wouldn’t want to take it the other direction.

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail. As a previous review suggested, we went down the Jones Bar and back up the Independence Trail. I would recommend this direction as well.

Awesome trip and the views are great.

backpacking
5 months ago

The road in to the trailhead is rough,rocky & long. The trail is just over 3 miles one way to Glacier Lake and well marked. It’s quite diverse and beautiful. Went with my children and they did great.

Couldn’t find the site. Directions took us to a dead end on an isolated road.

Beautiful hike and so many lakes! I would say this is a moderate hike and the trail is dog friendly, which is a plus. We did have some snow on the ground but not enough you needed snow shoes.

hiking
6 months ago

The road up there was rocky but I made it in a Corolla. I didn’t follow my gps (watch your gps because trails are not too easy to see) very well and ended up visiting Round Lake and Island Lake. Beautiful views and cool places to camp out. We did about 4 miles. I will have to go back and find Glacier Lake.

The snow was patchy and is almost gone.

camping
6 months ago

The hike was absolutely beautiful! My group and I hammock camped near the river and had a fantastic time! Be wary of the poison oak, which is bountiful.

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