Explore the most popular nature trips 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.

mountain biking
9 days 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.

Beautiful trail

mountain biking
12 days ago

Fun little ride.

nice relaxing trail. I love going in the fall with the amazing color changes of the trees and salamanders every where.

mountain biking
13 days ago

Fun little trail for the family. My 7yo daughter made it on her 16” Barbie bike. Down side were all the people who refuse to leash their dogs. Next time I’m going to hit the little bastard and see how my rockshox suck up a cockapoo instead of crashing to avoid hurting it.

Wonderful trail!

I really enjoyed this hike! Ground was level and beautiful views and ran into some salamanders on the trail. Will definitely do it again!

Took the trail to the falls then detoured up a lot of rocks to the top of the falls back down and to the lake. Simply beautiful.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Beautiful single track. I am not an experienced mountain biker but enjoyed the ride. A few spots are very narrow with a steep hill facing down but I managed.

Great easy trail! Was shaded most of the way, and very flat. It was cool to walk along the canal the whole time. My dog loved jumping in and out of the water. Not too much foot traffic for a weekend, but ran into a few people. Parked at what I think is the middle of the trail, on the shoulder of Red Dog Rd. Was told you could also park at the other end of the trail, may have to check that out next time. Would definitely go to this trail again.

This is a great little area for a quiet relaxing walk in the woods. Even in October there was water running in the creek, and it was cooler than in the surrounding area.

Getting there: Look for Conservation road, and follow the signs. GPS was not helpful in finding the trailhead, but the signs were fine from Conservation road.

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.

The trail itself is beautiful, and though I would not describe the views as spectacular, the jaunt itself is pleasant and relaxing. I took the trail from the (very low) underpass to the right of the trailhead sign all the way to it's finish at the fire road (there is an end of trail marker there to let you know). A little anticlimactic since there was no sweeping view at the end. When I do it again, i will likely stop at the picnic tables located after the bridge. Great place to snack and recharge before heading back.

Great trail! lots of mosquitoes though. Easy walk, level and shaded.

this is a fantastic trail to take young kids who are just starting to get into nature walks without being in a stroller. it is long but easy for them to enjoy and explore. the trail has several little creekbeds that are filled with salamanders. the walk bridgws and paths are also nice for individuals who have difficulty walking. bridges have benches and great views.

amazing trail to run

Nice wooded hike, along the water for a lot of it. It was more of an easy hike for us but we didn’t hike up the hill after the bridge. Instead we went straight along the water to the lower part of the lake. The end was pretty but disappointing because the water is low and we couldn’t hike to it unless we wanted to climb over rocks and drift wood. We should have conquered the hill, it probably had lake access but it was getting late. We took our Boston’s and they had lots of streams to drink from.

hiking
2 months ago

This is an epic place to get a hike and swim in. I have been coming here for years to get a training hike in followed by a swim. There is more trail with some climbing involved. The swimming holes are big enough to get a workout in also. Yes it gets crowded in Summer. Come early. We did a video on the swimming holes on our YouTube channel Chris and Bobs adventure channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpJF3zCamY0

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

mountain biking
2 months ago

Lovely trail along the canal with shade almost the entire way. Easy ride, limited to no hills. dog friendly trail. Beautiful ride with moderate foot and bike traffic. Trail goes from Red Dog Rd to Gracie Rd. You can park at either end and hike from point to point (4.5 miles one way).

This trail is more a walking trail rather than a hiking trail. It’s very flat, mostly shaded, and provides a pretty nice view of the South Yuba river from above. It’s not a crowded trail since more people opt to spend time down by the river. The wooden bridges were a nice touch as well.

From what I saw, it’s an in-out trail. The only drawback was having to avoid dog poop which was not moved from the trail.

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.

It was a very relaxing trail to hike. sad that part of it was damaged.

great for kids path is well maintained. a lot of people there so made it tricky for the narrow path

Beautiful and shady forested old-growth loop trail for beginner hikers.

Despite the 10-minutes of gravel road a car must travel down into a canyon, the trail is worth the detour off highway CA-20.

We noticed the trailhead sign and parked our car near the toilet and picnic bench. When we stepped out of our car, we noticed the area considerably cooler and moist, quiet and mystical, compared with the surrounding ridge above where the highway is at. It reminded me of the Redwoods by the coast.

While the trail is rated as an ADA wheelchair accessible trail, parts of it have been washed out and are not suitable for wheelchairs. But most of it can still be enjoyed.

The Forest Service trail booklets make the trail an excellent children's experience, with marked landmarks, named trees, and science and ecology factoids. It presents questions and projects for kids to find, making it a fun and interactive nature trail.
There are three layers of forest, with 100+ foot tall Ponderosa and Douglas fir, then deciduous Aspens, and Alders, and then 5-10 foot tall dogwoods, and interesting rare trees. Creating a rainforest feel.

The incredible shade, along with old-growth dead logs, with moss and ferns, and creek, make this trail a fun "jungle" for kids and groups to walk and explore, and it is friendly to those with who may have a hard time walking far.

The road is narrow, and one-way, but it becomes paved eventually, and leads back out on top, onto Highway 20.

We will be taking this trail again when visiting the Nevada City / Grass Valley area.
- Mike & Angel
EarthTrek Gear

backpacking
2 months ago

We went on a non-holiday weekend and there were lots of people at the lake. Probably not surprising since it's a fairly easy hike in and we saw lots of families with young children there. Luckily, we didn't have an issue with mosquitoes! Would recommend Penner Lake for people looking for an easy backpacking trip and don't mind having others around. As other folks have mentioned, if you're starting from Carr Lake Trailhead, the last 5-10 miles of the ride to there is unpaved with large boulders. A car with high clearance is recommended.

Meh. Not sure why this is rated moderate. Pretty good trail if you’re a first timer and want something more secluded I guess. Jumped in the water and was a little chilly. Finished this within 3 hours.

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