Northern California, home to country’s first wheelchair accessible wilderness trail

The Independence Trail in Nevada City, a 3-mile long trail with about half of it accessible to wheelchairs, has got to be one of the most amazing wilderness trails ever and if you have any desire to check it out, now would be an ideal time to do so.

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The Independence Trail was the first identified wheelchair accessible wilderness trail in the country. It utilizes the old Excelsior Ditch, built around 1859 to carry water for hydraulic mining. The ditch tapped the South Yuba River more than two miles upstream from here and it ran all the way to what is now the dam at Lake Wildwood, then by the China Ditch to the Smartsville mining district, 15 miles west of Grass Valley, CA.

The trail includes views of another mining artifact: the Miners Tunnel. It was blasted through 800 feet of bedrock in the late 1870’s to divert the flow of the South Yuba during summer months so miners could work the main river channel. Both ends of the tunnel are visible in this area, as described below.

Much of this trail consists of two parallel paths, one in the ditch bottom, and the other on top of the ditch bank. The wheelchair-accessible path generally follows the ditch bottom for the first mile or so.

And if that's not enough, here's a web site with even more outdoor wheelchair accessible trails in the Nevada City area.  Enjoy!