The South Fork Yuba River is one of the 13 free-flowing rivers protected by the California Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, possessing extraordinary scenic, historic,and recreation value. Wilderness camping is permitted near Nevada City along a 4.4 mile section of the South Yuba Trail as it follows the shadier south side of the river from Edwards Crossing down to Purdon Crossing. This section begins and ends on State Park land, but is mostly situated in the Tahoe National Forest, where you can camp anywhere.
Check for fire restrictions and obtain a campfire permit. The elevation is around 2,000 feet — providing comfortable hiking and camping except for a few weeks of mid-summer and mid-winter. The trail descends in places to the discovery of extraordinary swimming holes and campsites. A full moon reflecting off the polished granite and shimmering pools creates a lifetime memory. Exercise particular caution at spring runoff, as the rocks are slippery and the river can run very high, fast, and cold.
From CA 49 and North Bloomfield Rd. in Nevada City, go north (uphill) on North Bloomfield Road 0.5 mile to a “T” intersection with Lake Vera Purdon Road. Turn right and continue 6 miles to Edwards Crossing, or turn left (on Purdon Road) to Purdon’s Crossing. Overnight parking is permitted at either Crossing.
When foothills temperatures reach the ’90s, cooler camping can be found under shady pine and fir trees by heading 12 or more miles east from Nevada City on Highway 20. This High Sierra section of Tahoe National Forest features Bowman Lake, at 5,565 feet, accessible with a high clearance vehicle. For more information, visit the Tahoe National Forest office at 631 Coyote Street in Nevada City, or call (530) 265-4531.