The Pioneer Trail is a lengthy, difficult hike located in the vast Tahoe National Forest outside of Nevada City, California. It is suitable for all types of adventurers, such as horse riders, joggers, mountain bikers, and dog-owners, but can pose a challenge to the novice pup or hiker. While open year-round, the most pawpular times to visit are between March and November when the weather is most pleasant and enjoyable. You will most definitely come across fellow hikers, bikers, and the occasional horse rider, however, no motorized vehicles are allowed.
There are several trailhead access points, including Harmony Ridge Market, Lone Grave, Chalk Bluff, Omega Rest Stop, Ziebright Mine, White Cloud Picnic Area, and more. All of these are easily located along the pawpular Highway 20. No matter which accesses you use, the majority of the trail runs adjacent and parallel to the highway, making it easy to both access and exit the trail at any time.
The terrain varies, however, from point to point. Most of the trail is lined with natural forest floor, but features dense timber, tree plantations, ascents, descents, rocks, conifer forest, oak woodlands, and more. Along the way, you might see the damage wildfires have caused. Once you reach the south end of the highway, the trail will continue to descend further into Bear Valley at the junction of Bowman Lake Rd. There will be a bridge crossing on the South Yuba River, then the trail continues to meander through woodlands and conifer forest. The Pioneer Trail ends at the Spaulding Lake Trail.
The Pioneer Trail is home to a diverse array of wildlife and native plant species, so keep an observant eye out while on the trail and make sure to keep your dog leashed at all times to ensure everyone's safety. The Pioneer Trail is a more adventurous option for hikers, but the easy access/exit sites give hikers the option to leave at any time. Remember to be courteous to fellow hikers, and pack out anything you pack in!