The Point Defiance Trail in the South Yuba River State Park in Bridgeport, California, is a scenic 2.8-mile loop trail with great river views. It's a great place to bring a pup who loves having lots of stuff to sniff. The trail begins at the Bridgeport Covered Bridge on Pleasant Valley Road. To park at the dedicated lots at the trailhead, you'll need to buy a day pass that costs $10 from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and $5 the rest of the year. There are trash cans, picnic tables, and a map at the trailhead and bathrooms in the nearby visitor's center.
The Point Defiance Trail winds through a diverse series of landscapes. High points along the trail yield vistas of distant hills and the sections along the river bank take you through a tranquil valley. Tall blue oaks lend shade to grassy meadows while Ponderosa pines, maples, and madrone trees grow on the slopes along the river. Colorful wildflowers are a common sight here. White lace pods, orange poppies, and lavender bird's-eye gilia are among the many flowers you may see.
The spring also brings flocks of migrating birds through the area, including Bullock's orioles, yellow-breasted chat, black-headed grosbeaks, and ash-throated flycatchers. California quail, western bluebirds, and several species of woodpeckers live here year-round. On rare occasions, you may spot bald eagles or an American dipper foraging in the river.
The short trail passes through the Point Defiance Campground where the Yuba River flows into Englebright Lake. It's a scenic place to camp if you've decided to extend your time here, which isn't a bad idea if you're here in the spring when wildflowers and birds are abundant, or in autumn when the hillsides are painted with fall color. You can log more miles by continuing from the Point Defiance Trail to the Buttermilk Bend Trail, which connects to it near the trailhead. The Buttermilk Bend Trail is a one-mile out-and-back trail that follows the river east where its channel is more narrow and rocky. Both trails provide spots for people and pups to splash on hot summer days.
At any time of year, the Point Defiance Trail is a pleasant place for curious dogs and their humans to spend a fun day exploring together.