Pioneer Trail

The Pioneer Trail is 25 miles long, beginning at Hwy 20 near 5 Mile House and ending at Spaulding Lake Trail.


Length: 25.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Bicycling (on pavement)
Dogs - On leash
Equestrian - Riding
Equestrian - Pack trips
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Snow - Cross-country Skiing
Snow - Snowshoeing
Wildlife Observation

     Bicycling: non-wilderness only

See more details.


Location: Tahoe National Forest
State(s): California
Counties: Nevada and Placer
Longitude: -120.84569
Latitude: 39.321

Driving Directions

There are many places where you can access the trail, including Harmony Ridge Market, Lone Grave, White Cloud Picnic Area, Washington Overlook trailhead, Upper Burlington Trailhead, Chalk Bluff trailhead, Omega Rest Stop, Ziebright Mine, all along Highway 20, and at Lang crossing on the Bowman Lake road.


The Pioneer Trail spans a distance of 25 miles, starting just east of Nevada City, and climbing along the current route of State Highway 20 to Bear Valley. There it departs from the highway and enters the South Yuba River canyon, where it climbs to join the Spaulding Lake Trail and the 41-mile system of nonmotorized trails in the Grouse Lakes area.

From Five Mile House to White Cloud, the trail parallels Highway 20. Just west of the campground, the trail crosses the highway and goes deeper into the forest. From White Cloud to Skillman Campground, the trail is often located on abandoned ditches and roadbeds in dense timber. From Skillman to Chalk Bluff, the trail enters tree plantations where wildfires killed most of the older trees. East of Omega Rest Stop, the trail crosses to the north side of the highway and follows an old pioneer road to Steephollow Creek. The trail climbs then, descends toward the highway on the old Tahoe-Ukiah highway route, the predecessor of Highway 20. Now on the south side of the highway, the trail descends into Bear Valley, where it meets the Bowman Lake Road on the east side of the valley. The trail then follows the Bowman Lake road to the South Yuba River, crossing the bridge at Lang crossing. From the crossing, the trail climbs through nearly solid rock, then into live oak woodlands and finally into a mixed conifer forest until the trail joins the Spaulding Lake trail at a penstock that provides water for hydroelectric power at Spaulding Lake.

Turning left and traveling ¼ mile, the trail returns to the Bowman Lake Road; turning right on the Spaulding Lake Trail, you can access the Grouse Ridge Trail and the many trails within the Grouse Lakes area.

The Pioneer Trail is suitable for equestrians, hikers, joggers, and mountain bicyclists. It is closed to all motorized vehicles. Volunteers constructed most of the trail, a twenty-year project undertaken by the Gold Country Trails Council with supervision by the Forest Service. The Trails Council maintains the trail, with participation by other trail users.

Additional Details

Width: 30 inches.
Primary Surface: Soil
Secondary Surface: Soil

Average Grade: 6%
Maximum Grade: 30%
Elevation Low Point: 3,600
Elevation High Point: 5,200
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: USFS Trail Details

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail management:
Joe Chavez
USDA Forest Service
15924 Hwy. 49
Camptonville, CA 95922
(530) 478-6253
[email protected]/tahoe



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