Miner's Ravine Bike and Walking Trail is a gem in the middle of a suburban community located along the western boundary of the Sierra Nevada. The trail system provides direct access into the Sierra Nevada portion of Placer County allowing users to learn more about the cultural heritage and recreation opportunities in two sister cities – Rocklin and Roseville.
Leg 1 (Rocklin): In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, our tour begins in the now suburban city of Rocklin, CA. Heading east on I-80 take the Taylor Rd./Pacific Street offramp where you will find our first segment of Historic U.S. 40. As you exit the freeway you will see the transcontinental railroad tracks on your left. Continue 1.7 miles. Make a left turn on Farron Street. Continue three blocks on Farron Street. Farron Street will curve right and becomes 5th Street. On your left will be Johnson-Springview City Park.
Johnson-Springview Park (5460 5th Street, Rocklin CA. Phone: 916-625-5200) will be our starting point. The park provides water, parking and bathrooms. Our adventure today is divided into two legs. The first leg (Rocklin) is urban and follows bike paths traveling on the City of Rocklin’s major arteries (If you choose to bike the first leg of the route, keep in mind that there are two sections where the bike lanes are either narrow or you must share the road with auto traffic). Leg 1 is about six miles one way. The ride is mostly flat except for the last 1/3 of a mile as the road rises about 200 feet. The second leg (Roseville), travels through a nature preserve. The bike and walking trail is family friendly and is about 4 miles in each direction. Total mileage roundtrip is about 20 miles.
The Johnson-Springview Park was once a dairy farm owned by the Huff family (N 38 47.660’, W 121 14.576). Begin by exiting the Johnson-Springview Park parking lot and continue east (left turn) down 5th Street until you reach Rocklin Road. Park. On your left you will see a gravel foot path between two historic homes. The home on your left is the Wickman - Johnson home located at 5200 5th street (built in 1886). Walk or bike down the gravel path continuing on the dirt path to view what was once a large Nisenan/Southern Maidu village. A wrought iron fence encloses the archeological site. As you walk inside the enclosure, you will see one of the region’s largest acorn grinding bedrock mortars. With an estimated age of up to 1,500 years old, the granite outcropping has 88 mortars. The Maidu lived at this site up to1880. Introduced plagues, violence and confiscation of their land ended the Maidu culture.
Next to the bedrock mortars is a unique spring: Huff’s mineral springs. The granite rock lined mineral spring maintained a temperature of about 70 degrees year round. Naturally carbonated, the water had a near zero oxygen content. While no fish could survive in the water, locals believed the water to be beneficial to ones health!
Rocklin and the transcontinental railroad: To push the trains up and over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a ninety mile run, extra helper engines were required. In1867, a roundhouse was constructed which included 28 stalls. Rocklin’s roundhouse provided trains heading east with extra engines and fuel for the arduous journey up the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
To understand the history of Rocklin, a little geologic history is needed. Millions of years ago, in the area around Carson City Nevada, magma formed in the earth’s crust. The magma flowed all the way from Carson City, Nevada to what is now the City of Rocklin. The cooled magma formed a massive strata of granite.
Early steam trains needed water; lots of water. Drilling for water through granite is difficult if not impossible. So in 1908, the Central Pacific Railroad moved their roundhouse from Rocklin to Roseville (Then called Junction City), a distance of about ten miles. Roseville was also a more logical site as it was the junction for trains coming from the North south.
With the railroad gone, Rocklin fell back on its second main industry granite rock mining. By the 1890s, 2,000 rail cars were needed each year to carry granite to construction sites all over the West. In 1906, a massive earthquake struck San Francisco. Business boomed as granite was needed to rebuild the City by the Bay. Sixty-two quarries tried to keep up with the demand for granite.
As we leave the Maidu archeological site for our next stop we will inspect some of the granite quarries that made Rocklin famous. Head back toward Pacific Street (U.S. Historic Highway 40) on Rocklin Road. Travel four blocks making a right turn on Front Street. On the east corner of Front St. and Rocklin Road is the Crossroads Community Church. The retaining wall in their parking lot is all that is left of the original 1868 railroad roundtable and roundhouse. On Front Street you will see St. Mary’s Chapel. Built as a Catholic church in 1883, the historical society saved the building from demolition and moved the structure to its present site.
Fires destroyed most of historic old town Rocklin. Not surprisingly, those buildings which survived were made of granite. A classic example is the Barudoni building (1905) at 5250 Front Street.
Make a U turn on Front Street and head back to Rocklin Road. Make a right turn again heading toward Pacific Street. The new Amtrak train depot still drops passengers off in Rocklin. Yes, Amtrak (Capitol Corridor) is bicycle friendly!
Crossing the train tracks, make a right turn on Pacific. Our next stop will give you our first chance to explore a granite quarry. The Brigham and Hawes Quarry (N 38 208’, W 121 14.355’) is on the west side of Pacific Street right next to a tire store. A granite plaque sits in front of what locals used to call a “castle” of granite. The marker indicates that this quarry was Rocklin’s first (1861). Stone from the quarry was used in the construction of the transcontinental railway. You can wander around the quarry. Be careful as there are NO fences to keep you from falling into the deep pit. Practicing their hobby, rock climbers enjoy practicing their skills on the south rim.
A quick word about granite ‘castles” and their formation. Granite was formed, as noted above, from magma. Magma does not reach the surface of the earth. After cooling and hardening, over millions of years, the soft top soil is washed away leaving the durable “castle” as stunning monuments to the landscape. As you drive around Rocklin you will see granite outcroppings. Sometimes gravity takes control of exposed granite and boulders are sent down mountain sides. The beauty of granite boulders and castles did not escape the eye of Ansel Adams. His portfolio of photographs includes Rocklin’s granite castles and boulders.
To continue our tour, we need to now head east on Pacific. At the next light, Farron Street, make a left turn into the U.S. Post Office. You can then loop around the parking lot and head east on Pacific. On your right you will note our next stop: Big Gun Quarry. You can stop for a quick look, but we’ll have a better opportunity to view the quarry from the other side.
Make a right turn on Rocklin Road. Within a few hundred feet, turn right into the City of Rocklin’s office building parking lot (3970 Rocklin Road). (If you missed the turn off, you can also make a right turn into the Rocklin’s fire station drive way and loop back.) Go past the city offices and park. There is a great view of the quarry pit by taking the exterior stairwell landing of the City’s office building. The quarry was first opened in September of 1864. Rock from the quarry also supplied building material for California’s State Capitol. In 2005, quarry operations ceased. The closing of the Big Gun quarry ended an important era in not only Rocklin history but also early California history. (What will happen to this historic site is in question. The state of California, which had lent redevelopment funds to the City of Rocklin, now wants the processing shed torn down and the land sold to repay the debt owed to the State.)
As you leave the parking lot heading back to Rocklin Road. Notice the granite building (3980 Rocklin Road) on your right. The California Granite Company built the building in 1912. The building later served as Rocklin’s City Hall and as one of the City’s first libraries.
Across the street (3895 Rocklin Road) was once the medical office of Dr. Henry Fletcher, Rocklin’s town doctor (1905). Today the house serves as Rocklin’s History Museum ( www.rocklinhistory.org Phone: 916 624-2355).
Leaving the City of Rocklin’s parking lot, make a right turn back onto Rocklin Road. At the next major light, where Rocklin Road “T’s” with Granite Drive on the northwest side of Rocklin Road notice the Placer County Rocklin Branch Library. The pond in front of the library is another former quarry.
Our journey is now to connect with Miner’s Ravine Nature Preserve Bike Trail. For the next mile, continue on Rocklin Road passing under I-80 until you reach Sierra College Blvd. Turn right onto Sierra College Blvd. heading toward the City of Roseville. Need a break? The strip mall at the corner of Sierra College Blvd. and Rocklin Road has both a market and coffee shop.
As you continue on Sierra College Blvd., in about 1/4 miles, Sierra College Blvd. begins to rise into the foothills. On your right is suburbia. On your left is what was. The vertical change will be about 200 feet. Just after crossing Secret Ravine Parkway, look for the parking lot for Miner’s Ravine (From the intersection of Rocklin Road and Sierra College Blvd. to Miner’s Ravine Bike and Walking trail is 2.8 miles).
The City of Roseville has over 30 miles of paved dual use (biking and walking) trails. Part of the Dry Creek watershed, the trails transverse miles of open space rich with history, native flora and fauna.
My favorite bike and walking trail is the Miner’s Ravine trail. Depending upon your route, the round trip hike is from six to ten miles in length. I enjoy starting at the trailhead located at 7500 Sierra College Blvd. Roseville. The trail head parking lot is only minutes off of I-80 (Between Secret Ravine Pkwy and Olympus Drive: Lat/long: 38.75743, -121.224636). Other trailheads can be found on the city of Roseville’s website (www.roseville.ca.us ) under “transportation”.
Begin your hike by stopping at one of two informational signs telling about the flora and fauna of Miners Ravine. The ravine got its name from gold mining activities just after the 1849 Gold Rush. Searching for gold, in the 1930’s, dredges were used to sift through the stream bed. Tailings can still be seen in the underbrush.
About a-third-of-a-mile into your journey, stop and read the sign about the valley elderberry and the endangered long horn beetle. As you pass under the first bridge, notice the swallows darting in and out of their nests. Some 200 species of birds live or migrate through the Dry Creek watershed. Fifty species of mammals, 58 species of butterflies and 20 species of reptiles and amphibians also make their home in the Dry Creek watershed. So, bring your camera and binoculars you never know who you will meet!
Continuing 2.3 miles, stop and view the Maidu Indian bedrock mortars. The Maidu Indians had inhabited the valley floor for over 4,000 years.
Just past the mortar exhibit (about 1/4 miles) on your right, you will pass a wide gravel path. (If you see the “United Artist Trail Head” sign you went too far!). Follow the gravel path a few hundred feet until you reach the stream bed (Secret Ravine Creek). By the bank of the stream, study the monument explaining the life cycle of the chinook salmon. If you are visiting in late November or early December, just after the first major rain storm, you can view the chinook salmon migration from this vantage point.
Three-quarters of a mile further, you will see a sign to the “Sculpture Monument”. Take the short trail up and view the huge monolith steel structure and vista. The bike trail loops under Harding Avenue then proceeds over a foot bridge.
Need a potty break or traveling with young children? There is a community park (William Taylor) just off to the right. The trail comes to an end at Folsom Road and Linda Drive. If you wish to enjoy historic downtown Roseville, turn right on Folsom Road.
If you choose to visit downtown Roseville, continue north on Folsom Rd. You will intersect the Union Pacific Railroad freight yard and the transcontinental rail line. The freight yard is the largest on the West Coast.
You can visit the historic Old Town Roseville by taking Washington Blvd. Washington Blvd. crosses the freight yard through a tunnel. There is a narrow bike lane through the tunnel. Once In Old Town, be sure to visit the Carnegie Library (557 Lincoln Street). Constructed in 1912, the Library is now the City of Roseville’s historic museum. Train buffs will enjoy the historic pictures and displays. Route length is 6 to 10 miles.
Leg 1: Takes you on surface streets some are busy major highways. If biking, this is an adults only trail but can be viewed by automobile. Leg 2: Roseville's Miner's Ravine Trail is on a dedicated bike and walking trail. If you are a birder, biker, photographer or just looking for a family adventure, this is the trail for you.
The Placer Land Trust is hosting a clean up at Miner's Ravine on September 21, 2013, as part of the annual Great Sierra River CleanUp event.
Visit Dry Creek Conservancy's website (www.drycreekconservancy.org or www.facebook.com/drycreekconservancy ) for dates of future nature walks or stream clean up days.
ADA Accessibility Notes
Yes, Miner's Ravine is ADA accesible.
Pet Friendly Notes
At Miner's Ravine bike and walking trail, dogs on leash are allowed.