Hardrock Trails Area
The Hardrock Trails Area is part of the 800-acre Empire Mine State Historic Park. The trails in this area are enjoyable for hiking, jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding. The Hardrock Trails Area encircles the main part of the park that contains the visitor center, historic buildings, and mining machinery. Along the trails are historic points of interest related to the mining history in the area. This trail area is beautiful place to enjoy nature as well as learning about the historic mining that occurred here.
Empire Mine State Historic Park – Hardrock Trails Area
|Place:||Grass Valley, CA|
|Land:||Empire Mine State Historic Park|
|Trail signs:||Good direction signs to follow the Hardrock Trail, but key intersections are often not signed|
|Length:||Longest continuous distance is an 3.5 mile loop following trails around the periphery of the Hardrock Trails Area and taking the optional side trips.|
|Altitude change:||Depends on trail taken. Maximum net elevation change about 150 feet.|
|Trail surface:||Dirt and some paved areas|
|Environment:||Heavily wooded with a wide variety of trees and shrubs|
|Rules:||Park trails are open from dawn to dusk; stay on marked trails; no motor vehicles; no camping; dogs must be on leash; all natural and historic features of the park are protected. Caution: poison oak, ticks, and rattlesnakes.|
The visitor center trailhead and Penn Gate trailheads should be considered the primary trailheads because there is ample parking available at each trailhead.
Visitor Center Trailhead:
The trailhead is adjacent to a parking area at the visitor center (N39.20666 W121.04486). From Grass Valley, take Highway 49 to the Empire Street exit. Proceed east on Empire Street 1.3 miles to the visitor center parking lot on the right side of the street. The start of the Hardrock Trail is located at the southeast end of the parking lot. Following the trail takes you around the Hardrock Trail in a clockwise direction.
Penn Gate Trailhead:
The trailhead is adjacent to the Penn Gate parking area (N39.20940 W121.05714). From Grass Valley, take Highway 49 to the Empire Street exit. Proceed east on Empire Street 0.6 miles to the Penn Gate parking lot on the right side of the street at the intersection of Empire Street and Empire Court. The start of the Hardrock Trail is located at the southwest end of the parking lot. Following the trail takes you around the Hardrock Trail in a counterclockwise direction.
Orleans Mine Trailhead:
This trailhead is located along the Colfax Highway (CA 174) (N39.20704 W121.04154). From Grass Valley, take the Colfax Highway approximately 1.5 miles east from CA 49 and look for horse crossing signs along both sides of the highway just before you see the Calvary Bible Church on your right. The trailhead is marked on a sign on the right side of the highway. There is no parking at the trailhead, but you can find road shoulder parking nearby. Please park completely off the road. The Orleans trail connects with the Hardrock Trail approximately 0.5 miles from the trailhead.
Stacey Lane Trailhead:
This trailhead is located at the end of Stacey Lane (N39.20729 W121.06003). From Grass Valley, take Highway 49 to the Empire Street exit. Proceed east on Empire Street 0.3 miles to South Auburn Street. Turn right on South Auburn Street and take the first left turn on Stacey Lane, following it to the end. The Stacey Lane Gate is on the left side of the street and is marked with a sign. Note that Stacey Lane is a narrow residential street with very limited parking and several areas that are posted No Parking and Keep Out. It is only recommended if the Penn Gate parking area is full. The Stacey Lane trail connects up with the Hardrock trail after approximately 0.4 miles.
McKnight Way Trailhead:
This trailhead is located at the east end of McKnight Lane (N39.20724 W121.06024). From Grass Valley, take Highway 49 to the McKnight Way exit. Follow McKnight Way east about a block to the end of the street. The trailhead is on the south end of the street and usually there is street parking available. There is a short trail over non-park land to the entrance to the park. It is not known if this entrance trail is on public or private land, but there is no signage that restricts access. The trail connects with the Hardrock Trail in approximately 0.2 miles.