Rock Creek Nature Trail - April 22, 2000
(Posted April 25, 2000)


The Rock Creek Nature Trail is about six miles east on Highway 20 from the Highway 49 turn at the north end of Nevada City. It is near the vertical center of the map below, shortly after Highway 20 enters the Tahoe National Forest. A map and self-guiding tour text for the trail is available at the Nevada City Ranger District Forest Headquarters, located at 631 Coyote Street, Nevada City, 95959. This location is shown by the red dot marked Nevada City in the map below. You can also call this office for maps, at (530) 265-4531. The overall map below was extracted from the Tahoe National Forest Web Site. The Web site has nothing on the Rock Creek Nature Trail (that I could find) but has information on their longer trails.


Tahoe National Forest Map

As you approach the trail on Highway 20, look for the Washington Ridge Conservation Camp sign on the left. Turn in here and follow the paved road for 1 mile. Turn left onto a one-way gravel road that will take you another 1.1 miles down into the canyon and parking lot. On your way out, continue on this one-way gravel road, which will take you back to Highway 20 about 2 miles closer to Nevada City than the entrance to the Washington Ridge Conservation Camp.

The Nature Trail is a 3/4-mile loop through dense woods with soft footing on level ground. There are 14 marker posts at which you can stop and read about items of interest from the trail guide. In the picture below you can see Mary and Maddie reading about Post 4 as most of our group are crossing a foot bridge over Rock Creek. Barbara is snapping a picture of the creek. I'm standing in my rain hat prepared for the shower that never came. Andy took the picture. On our drive from Nevada City to the trail head, a rain shower got more intense as we climbed toward the mountains. But just as we arrived at the trail head the shower stopped and we saw no more rain (or sun).

On the bridge over Rock Creek along the Nature Trail.

In the picture below we're at Post 5, which points out a stand of huge madrone trees that reach almost as tall is the douglas fir trees. None of us had ever seen such large madrone trees, as you can tell by our expressions as we cast our eyes upward.
Looking up at huge madrone trees.

We saw many low-lying shrubs/trees that had dogwood-like leaves bursting out, but the picture below is of the only tree we saw with flowers.
Dogwood Flowers

The waterfall along Rock Creek pictured below gives a good feel for the ambiance along the trail. As in this picture, there was heavy moss everywhere, and many decaying tree limbs lying around exemplifying the natural cycle of birth, death, and renewal. In fact, that's the theme of the trail and of the trail guide.
Small waterfall in Rock Creek.

The picture below is Andy's favorite. With the thick canopy of trees, and heavy clouds on this showery day, there wasn't much light along the trail. The resulting long exposure time brought out the swirls of water around the rocks much like strokes of a paint brush.
Water swirling around rocks in the creek.

Andy had to take great care to brace his camera to take the following picture of moss on a tree stump. There were even more interesting tangled stump forms, but they were in such dark areas that Andy couldn't hold is camera steady enough to get a good picture.
Example of heavy moss, on a decaying tree stump.

We all thought this was a very enjoyable trail and look forward to coming back to it as the weather warms up and we can see what nature holds in store for us.

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