Updated: Nov 20, 2021
Hey, a writer can find inspiration anywhere.
A few years back, my cousin first took me to a little swimming hole on the Yuba River and I got an idea for a book. The book I’m writing now. And, maybe it’s because I’m feeling nostalgic, or maybe just because heat is roaring over the Sacramento Valley like a runaway steam engine, I’m daydreaming about that place. I simply cannot wait to go back. So, in honor of a beautiful stretch of gold country, here is an article I wrote on it and information on how to get there. 🙂
Bridgeport – Where Nature Meets History
If you’re looking for a way to beat the summer heat while relaxing in the sweet embrace of nature, plan a day trip to the gold country! On the banks of the Yuba River, just west of Grass Valley, a brilliant medley of natural wonders awaits.
Bridgeport is perhaps best known for its historic covered bridge, which at 233 feet in length, claims the title of longest single-span covered wooden bridge in the world. Originally established by brothers Urias and Manual Nye as a trading post during the California Gold Rush, the site’s history rivals its beauty. Standing on the shore of the Yuba, looking out over the towering boulders and surging currents, one can almost taste the story written there over a century ago. Close your eyes and imagine companies of rough, dirt-sodden men, squatting along the river with their gold pans in hopes of capturing a fortune, just beyond their grasp. Though in most cases their efforts resulted in failure, their legacy remains, seemingly untouched by modern society just miles down the road.
My favorite thing about this section of the South Yuba River State Park is its easily accessible swimming hole. Drive down Pleasant Valley Rd from Highway 20, cross over the river and park in the lot to the right, just beyond the bridge. From there, just a short walk will take you right to the water. This spot provides a reprieve from the midday sun with its still, refreshing pools of clear aqua, and its gently rushing streams. Kids will love leaping off the massive boulders into the water, but don’t expect much of a beach. Some sandy portions do exist, but most of the river is bordered by rocky shorelines. The adventurous might want to follow the trail farther down river, where the beach is much less crowded. Here, natural waterslides and solitude attract a smaller portion of visitors. I’ve heard rumors that this stretch of the river was once popular with skinny-dippers, but don’t let that frighten you away. In my experience, swimmers have always kept their clothes on.
Hikers, this area may interest you, as well. Park trails deliver a variety of options ranging in difficulty from easy to quite strenuous. Independence Trail, the lightest route available, is fully wheelchair accessible and includes several outhouses along the way. Follow these trails to hidden troves of natural splendor—waterfalls, mountain streams, and spectacular views of the gold country. Uncover historical mining sites while basking in the wildlife around you.
Whether you come to hike, fish, swim, to enjoy the history, or simply to relax, Bridgeport is worth the trip. Few places can offer so much in one setting. Maybe I’ll see you down there one day soon!
Visitor Center Parking Lot 10 am – Sunset
Visitor Center Thu – Sun 11am – 4pm
Gold Panning Demonstrations offered every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend from 11am – 2pm
17660 Pleasant Valley Road
Penn Valley, CA 95946