Independence Trail East & Lemke’s Lagoon

Location: South Yuba River State Park off of Highway 49

Distance: 5.1 miles

Type: Day-Hike

Rating: Easy

Permits: None required


Parking for at this trailhead is fairly limited, but there are several spots down Highway 49 to park if the small lot is full. Independence Trail is similar to Flume Trail but is much older with a very interesting history. Formerly the old Excelsior Ditch, built in 1859, was used to carry water for hydraulic mining.

For this hike, we brought our day-packs full of water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses and our swimsuits.

The Hike

There are “two” Independence Trails. Independence Trail West is wheelchair accessible. Although we did not hike the West trail, we plan on going later this month (August 2016). To take the Independence East Trail, take a left at the trailhead.

Independence Trail is considered an easy trail on flat terrain. Most of the hike is on a dirt road with bridges from time to time. The end of Independence Trail is clearly marked. However, if you would like to hike down to the South Yuba River, take a left at the “End of Trail” sign. At the bottom of this dirt road, we came across a fork in the road. We took a right down a very steep trail and eventually came across the South Yuba River. We stayed here and went swimming for a few hours and even hiked up to Lemke’s Lagoon, which was not easy to get to. After we finished swimming and dried off, we headed back up the hill to Independence Trail and hiked back to our car.

This hike is very shaded and is ideal to hike during the summer. Also, dogs are allowed, as long as they are on a leash.