Location: South Yuba River State Park off of Highway 49
Distance: ~5 miles
Permits: None required
For this hike, I brought my day pack, a water bottle, sunscreen, & hiking shoes. I wore a long-sleeve shirt with spandex shorts. I didn’t bring a swimsuit or towel with me, but I would recommend bringing both if you’re down for a swim! Parking is available in a small lot near the trailhead or along Highway 49, depending on how crowded the area is.
The hike starts at the same point as Independence Trail East, but instead of going left, we took a right at the trailhead. Independence Trail West is wheelchair accessible up to Flume 28, which is about 1 mile into the hike. About a half mile (maybe even less) into the hike there is an outlook where we viewed Rush Creek. We reached Flume 28, which also provides excellent views of Rush Creek, shortly after. Unfortunately, access to Rush Creek via the Rush Creek Ramp was closed. At this point in the hike, we thought we would be unable to access Rush Creek or the South Yuba River like we did when we hiked Independence Trail East. Luckily, we were wrong.
As we continued past Flume 28, the trail began to narrow and shade was limited. Usually, the trail is very shaded, but since it was in the middle of the afternoon, the sun was directly overhead. At the 2.5 mile mark, there is an “End of Trail Sign” and an unmarked road that the trail dead-ends into. At this point, we continued on. We took a right down the road and walked for about a mile until we found an unmarked trail that led to a secluded beach on the South Yuba River. There were only two other families there and the views were absolutely gorgeous! (See the pictures below). After we finished up at the river, we hiked back up to the road and continued until we saw a sign that read “To Independence Tr”. This part of the trail is referred to as Jones Bar Road (There is a sign about a quarter of the mile into Independence Trail West that marks this road). Although this part of the loop is very short, it is a straight up climb to get back to the Independence Trail West. Our legs were burning.
Once we got back to Independence Trail, we only had a short walk back to the trailhead.
As a side note, the flat terrain and low traffic makes Independence Trail West perfect for those who love to trail-run.