Presented by the Bear-Yuba Land Trust, January 2012
The ride started at Blue Point Mine, once one of the richest hydraulic mines in the state – though all that now remains of the multi-million dollar industry are looming escarpments and lush wildlife-rich ponds and wetlands. We followed the path of history along the old stagecoach road that once brought 49ers up from the ferry at Parks Bar to the gold mines of Grass Valley and French Corral, past the stone walls and foundations which are all that remain of the once-booming gold-rush era town of Sucker Flat.
We traced the ancient bed of the Pliocene Yuba River, which deposited vast beds of gold-bearing cobble hundreds of feet deep, up the ridge and past the basaltic rock formations which tell the tale of 150 million years of geologic history. We rode through a portion of the Yuba Narrows Ranch, which has recently been acquired by the Department of Fish and Game and contains some of the Yuba River’s most valuable salmon spawning habitat.
We continued on the old road, through the privately-owned Black Swan Ranch and past the stone walls and open meadows of John Rose’s stagecoach stop, to the Black Swan hydraulic diggings, where a once-devastated landscape is now rich in wildlife and stunningly beautiful.
After lunch by the Black Swan ponds and talk of the Bear Yuba Land Trust’s vision for the conservation of this unique and significant property, we rode through the Excelsior Ranch and enjoyed its spectacular ridge-top views – which extend west past the Yuba River and the Sutter Buttes to the Coast Range, and east to the Sierra Buttes – before we returned to the Blue Point Mine.
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Photos courtesy of the Bear-Yuba Land Trust