Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park is 26 miles northeast of Nevada City, California in the scenic foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The park was created in 1965 by concerned citizens to preserve the exciting and controversial story of our country’s largest hydraulic gold mining operation that devastated the area from the mid-1800s. Malakoff Diggins is the site of our country’s first environmental law issued by the federal government against the North Bloomfield Gravel Mining Company (Sawyer Decision) to curtail the release of the mud, gravel, and debris that clogged streams and major rivers from the foothills down to San Francisco Bay.
The dramatic hydraulic mining pit is an enduring testimony to the scale of reckless environmental and social impact that hydraulic mining caused throughout northern California. A 40-minute drive from picturesque Nevada City brings you to the ghost town of North Bloomfield. Here visitors and students can experience a unique window of life in a circa-1880’s gold mining community.
The park comprises approximately 3,200 acres of majestic pines, cedars and oaks between 2,500’ and 4,000’ elevation in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills region. Overnight visitors can choose between a shady, restful campsite in Chute Hill campground or a rustic “Miners Cabin.” The group campsite accommodates up to 60 people.
Approximately 20 miles of scenic trails range from very easy to strenuous and connect with the popular South Yuba River Trail. Overnight and day school programs are offered in the fall and spring. Popular events offer important recreational opportunities for nearby communities and the region: Discover Malakoff! series, Humbug Day the second Saturday in June, and the Ice Cream Social in September.
Camping—Three miner’s cabins in North Bloomfield may be reserved. The 30 family campsites at Chute Hill each have tables, food lockers, and fire grates. The group campsite is reservable for 9 to 40 people with no more than 10 vehicles. Reservations are recommended for weekends or summer weekdays. For camping reservations, call (800) 444-7275
Swimming—Blair Lake has a small swimming section near the picnic area. No lifeguard service is available, so please use caution and swim at your own risk.
Fishing—Rainbow and brown trout may be caught in South Yuba River. Blair Lake reservoir holds black bass, bluegill, and rainbows. All anglers 16 and over must possess a valid California fishing license.
Hiking—The park has more than 20 miles of scenic foothill trails with degrees of difficulty varying from easy to strenuous. The renowned South Yuba Trail connects to this trail network.
There are approximately 20 miles of trails ranging from .11 miles to 3.29 miles with elevation gains from 13 feet to over 1,000 feet. A walking stick and plenty of water are recommended. Temperatures can reach over 100º in the summertime. Visit us in the park museum to obtain a park trail map. Dogs are not permitted on certain trails and must be leashed at all times. Please respect all animal and plant life while you enjoy your hike.
Horses are not allowed in the park. The closest horse trail available to the park is Missouri Bar Trailhead off Relief Hill Road
BLAIR LAKE TRAIL (no dogs please) 1.28 miles – Gain: +21’ -290’ = -269’
Starts next to the campfire center and ends with a loop around the Blair Lake. It can also be accessed from the Blair Lake Parking area and the Upper Humbug Trail. Blair Lake is open during daylight hours for fishing and swimming. No lifeguard on duty. Age 16 and older must have a fishing license.
CHURCH TRAIL 0.21 miles; Gain: +8’ -44’ = -36’
A 5-minute walk from the picnic area to the cemetery, Saint Columncille’s Catholic Church, and the School House. The cemetery is still used today. Please be respectful of its present inhabitants. View the old church and school through the windows.
DIGGINS LOOP TRAIL (no dogs or bikes) 2.78 miles; Gain: +208’ -283’ = -75’
The best way to see the interior of the Diggins. Located one mile west of the townsite. Can be accessed from the west point overlook, the Hiller tunnel, the main overlook or the cemetery.
HUMBUG CREEK TRAIL (no bikes) 2 .72 miles; Gain: +863’ -54’ = -809’
A scenic hike to the South Yuba River where it meets the South Yuba Trail. Primitive camping is available a short distance from the junction of the Humbug Trail and Yuba River.
MARTIN RANCH TRAIL (no dogs or bikes) 0.45 miles; Gain: +70’ -57’ = +13’
A short hike to the Martin Ranch Home site. Makes a nice loop hike when combined with the Martin Ranch Road.
MISSOURI BAR TRAIL (located outside the park boundary) 1.36 miles – Gain: +0’ -1,127’ = -1,127’
A moderately steep Forest Service-maintained trail. Meets the South Yuba Trail. Open to bikes, dogs, and hikers.
RIM TRAIL 3.29 miles – Gain: +865’ -483’ = +382’
This trail runs along the upper rim of the Diggins. Open to bikes.
SLAUGHTER HOUSE TRAIL 0.61 miles – Gain: +0’ -314’ = -314’
Provides access to the cemetery and the town from the campground. Open to bikes, dogs, horses, and hikers.
MAIN OVERLOOK TRAIL (no dogs or bikes) 0.14 miles – Gain: +56’ -9’ = +47’
Location of the Parks Historic Landmark. A short walk to the Diggins Loop Trail.
SOUTH YUBA RIVER TRAIL (located outside park boundaries) 4.13 miles; Gain: +818’ -903’ = -85’
Runs from the town of Washington to Purdon Crossing. May be accessed from the Missouri Bar Trail, the Humbug Trail, and several trail heads along Relief Hill Road and North Bloomfield road. Open to bikes, dogs, horses, and hikers.
NORTH BLOOMFIELD TOWN TRAIL 0.62 miles; Gain: +0’ -318’ = -318’
A nice hike from the campground to North Bloomfield town site where the park office/museum is located in Cummins Hall. Town tours available.
TUNNEL TRAIL (no dogs or bikes) 0.13 miles – Gain: +0’ -51’ = -51’
Runs from North Bloomfield Road into the Diggins. Hikers have the choice of going over the top or through the Hiller Tunnel. Water flow in the tunnel is subject to change with the seasons and weather. You’ll need a flashlight and water shoes if you go through the tunnel.
UPPER HUMBUG TRAIL (no dogs or bikes) 0.56 miles; Gain: +188’ -0 = +188’
Shaded hike along the Humbug Creek to the Blair Trail. There are two unbridged crossing of Humbug Creek. Trail forks to Blair Lake or continues to North Bloomfield Road and a short walk to the camground.
WEST OVERLOOK TRAIL (no dogs or bikes) 0.11 miles; Gain: +5’ -24’ = -19’
Short trail access to the Diggins Loop Trail and the monitor display.