Independence Trail has made history, literally. This trail was the first wheelchair accessible trail in the nation. This trail is a splendid hike that offers easy inclines and lots of views of diverse landscapes and features.
The trail is actually split into two separate trails, east and west, that are separated by the highway and trailhead along the road. The west trailhead is the most popular of the two, although it is longer. This portion of the trail used to be an old Excelsior ditch that carried water from the river to mining operations in the 1850s, and was used for nearly 30 years to cut into the surrounding mountains.
The west trail showcases this the best, with a gorgeous setting that follows along the old canal. Nowadays, the trail is made from compacted soil and asphalt in different places, with wooden bridges and passes for wheelchairs. Surrounding the trail are thick trees of oaks and firs, with ferns and wildflowers in the summer. The most popular part of this trail is a mile in, called the Flume 28, a wooden flume that used to carry the water of Rush Creek. It's now a scenic bridge to pass through and look at the waterfall 500 feet below.
The eastern half of the trail splits off into two trails that run right next to each other, with the lower portion being wheelchair accessible. The trail follows under cut rocks with drop-offs that show the South Yuba River. The trail crosses over creeks with bridges made from more old flumes, with the most scenic portion along an overlook flume that curves around a mountain, with an open clearing that shows off the mountains and river valley. Down below, hikers and pups can see old caves that were made in the mid-1800s.
Both ends of the trails have turn around loops making it easy for wheelchairs and people to make their way back to their cars. Be sure to bring your essentials, including water and clean up bags. The Independence Trail is a wonderful way to allow everyone of all ages and species to see the see the natural history and habitats of this beautiful land.