3.2 miles, Moderately easy; Elevations: 250’-280’; Time: 1½ hours; Tread: single-track, mostly smooth with some washed out areas and few rocks; Equestrian and Hiking permitted.
The trail follows Dry Creek downstream from the parking area at the concrete bridge to the Horse corral and camping area north, above Waldo Bridge. On the eastern end the trail lies close to the creek and the hardwood filled riparian area. Soon it climbs a small, oak-covered ridge and stays above the creek on grass covered meadows and a wide-open valley.
The swimming hole just below the concrete bridge and across Dry Creek from the camping grounds (no facilities, just mostly flat) is especially popular for those that like to swing from the rope dangling from the huge old oak and then drop into the cool water of the creek. There’s no warranty on the life and strength of the rope. Be careful.
The oaks put on rusty, reddish brown cloaks in the fall and if you time it just right you can catch the yellows of the cottonwoods and low brush. The last time I hiked the trail in early winter there was a pair of otters playing hide-n-seek in the creek with me as I watched from above.
On the western end of the trail above Waldo Bridge the trail crosses small Cox Creek with a long, deep, swampy hole that is easy for horses to ford but for hikers can be a wet crossing in the spring – unless you clamor around and do some fancy footwork.
The trail works well in both directions. You can also do a loop by using the Bunker Trail and connecting on the east side with the South Pittman Trail. Total loop 6.7 miles and only moderately difficult. Much of it is easy except for occasional rocky footing in the tread.
From the east and Grass Valley: Drive 12.5 miles via Highway 20 west of the Highway 49/Highway 20 intersection in Grass Valley. Continue to the black-topped Beale Air Force Base road (Hammonton Road). Turn left (south) and drive 3.8 miles to Smartville Road. Turn left again (south) on the blacktopped road and drive 1.8 miles to graveled Waldo Road. Follow south until cross the Waldo Bridge and then left again onto Spenceville Road. Trailhead parking and a small camping site just before it lies another 2.3 miles. Park near the old concrete bridge. Follow the “Old Spenceville Road/Trail” west, downstream for 0.4 miles to the South Pittman Trailhead.
From the west and Marysville: Follow Highway 20 towards Grass Valley and east as it climbs into the Sierra Foothills. After 15 miles turn right (south) onto the Beal Air Force Base road (Hammanton Road). After leaving the highway follow the directions above.
Especially nice in the spring and fall when the ripariarian area adds color.
Best when combined with adjacent trails for a loop ride. Pretty creek, great meadows, comforting oaks overhead.