Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
300.00 ft (91.44 m)
Trail type
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The South Yuba River Trail runs 20 miles, paralleling the South Fork of the Yuba River. The trail is in a beautiful area with limited road access between Poorman Creek and Purdon Crossing. This route description covers the final 5 miles starting at Edwards Crossing and ending at Purdon Crossing. This section of trail along the South Yuba River tends to receive less traffic than the more popular Highway 49 Crossing. Here, hikers hoping to find a private swimming hole in the river may be in luck.

If you are planning to shuttle between trailheads, it is slightly easier begin on the upriver trailhead at Edwards Crossing. Taking the trail in this direction gives the hike a general descent, but climbing is a necessity regardless of which way you take. The trail constantly varies between uphill climbs and downhill drops, and although the trail parallels the Yuba, the rolling terrain, with at times steep ascents, necessitates that hikers should be in good shape. 

The parking along the steep gravel road leading to Edwards Crossing tends to fill up quickly during the warmer months, but most visitors stick to the first half mile of river in either direction. The trail generally proceeds high above the river level, with many well-worn paths that vary in steepness forking off from the trail and leading down to the water. Rocks alongside the river offer swimmers some nice jumping spots, varying from water level to 15 feet, especially toward the Purdon Crossing side. 

During spring, a large variety of wildflowers abound along the trail. Yellow blooms of tufted poppies, sedum, western buttercup, and marsh marigolds mix with the red of scarlet fritillary and California Indian pink. The white pink petals of miner's lettuce line the trail and purple larkspur contrasts with the green grasses. The highest concentration of spring wildflowers are found on the portion of trial closer to Purdon Crossing.

Accessing both the Edwards Crossing and Purdon Crossing trailheads requires a steep descent on a gravel road that, although generally passable for any passenger vehicle, has a tendency to become very rutted. The entirety of the trail and parking areas are on South Yuba River State Park property, and the park is closed each night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Backcountry camping is permitted in select areas, but are campers are responsible for knowing beforehand where camping is allowed and following all posted restrictions.

Local custom has it that any portion of the South Yuba River is clothing-optional. There are no amenities here except for a couple poorly-maintained outhouses at the Purdon Crossing trailhead and a vault toilet near the Edwards Crossing Trailhead.

Although the trail is for the most part well marked and easy to follow, there are a few unsigned forks. It is best to have an idea of the river's course and your bearings if you hiking the length of the trail between the crossings. This trail is also open to mountain biking.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Accesses uncrowded picturesque swimming holes. Beautiful scenery. Wildflowers.


Scarce parking during crowded season.

Trailhead Elevation

2,045.00 ft (623.32 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Suitable for




We hiked towards Purdon from Edwards Crossing (on the south side of the river) and we ended up being much closer to Purdon than Edwards before we found a suitable place to camp. I had read somewhere that wilderness camping was permitted along most of this stretch but a) It is very difficult to access the river closer to Edward's Crossing and b) A lot of the land seemed to be on private property, with many 'No Trespassing, Hunting or Fishing' signs along the trail. We ended up camping down near the river a bit before reaching Emerald Pools - there are a couple of spots down by the river itself (which were already taken), but also some nice open flat spots just a bit further away, up the trail. Despite being the long weekend (Labor Day), it was very uncrowded - we woke up in perfect serenity and only saw civilization again once we hiked back out to Edward's Crossing. We got back there around 9.50am and it was already starting to get crowded with parking, but it was still pretty quiet compared to when we left around 12pm. Definitely pays to be there earlier! A truly beautiful spot and once I would 100% return to - the river is crisp, clear, and incredibly refreshing to swim in.
The river seemed less accessible on the Edward's end of this trail. There's a lot of marked private property making camping unadvisable on that end. We found we had to hike much closer to Purdon on this trail before getting easy access to the water.
For great access to the water on the Edward's Crossing end, I recommend the trail on the north side of the river, which extends about a mile in.
Just hiked this trail in the opposite direction (Purdon to Edwards), it was beautiful and the river is roaring! The wildflowers were in full bloom and the many waterfalls we passed were stunning. There were 2 areas where the trail was washed out and it was pretty scary getting to the other side but we did it!
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