If you've never heard of this state park in Nevada County, it's only because it's new, having been recently created from what was known as the South Yuba River Project.
A patchwork of public lands hugging the better part of a 20-mile corridor of the South Yuba River north of Grass Valley, the park offers access at four river crossings. It includes 16 hiking trails ranging from one-tenth of a mile to 14 miles long. One of them, the 2.1-mile Independence Trail, is wheelchair-accessible its entire length.
Most of these trails offer various accesses to the river and are very popular in the summer for hiking, swimming and picnicking. There are also many archeological sites and objects along them, mostly from the old gold mining operations and settlements.
See the website for more information on the trails in South Yuba River State Park.
These trails are not "rail-trails."
Parking and Trail Access
To reach park headquarters from Sacramento, take Interstate 80 to Auburn and go north on Highway 49 to Grass Valley. Exit Highway 20 (Empire Road) and drive 9 miles to Pleasant Valley Road. Turn right and proceed 7.5 miles to park headquarters and the covered bridge.
Additional access to the Yuba and various park trails is at Jones Bar on Highway 49, Purdon Crossing on Purdon Road, and Edwards Crossing on North Bloomfield Road.
Park access is free; hiking and history information is available at the visitor center. The address is 17660 Pleasant Valley Road, Penn Valley, CA 95946.