Spenceville - California Watchable Wildlife Viewing Site #268

Spenceville Wildlife Area is a California Watchable Wildlife Viewing Site. Spenceville is among the largest of the publicly owned areas of blue oaks, and the creek drainage provides a continuous corridor from the valley to the foothills. Some areas can be viewed from vehicles, although trails provide the best access to viewing areas. The most popular trail follows the Dry Creek drainage up to Fairy (or Beale) Falls. It is five miles round trip.

It consists of prime lower Sierra Nevada foothills, blue oak woodlands and associated riparian habitat. Although it is home to all the associated species, it is particularly rich bird habitat with over 180 species having been identified and over 80 species nesting in the area.

Spenceville has a rich historic and prehistoric past. It encompasses part of the early wagon route east from Johnson's Ranch and the town of Spenceville, of which only a few remnants remain, grew up around a copper mine. Prehistorically, the Dry Creek drainage, that flows through the area, provided an importation yearly migration route from the central valley into the lower foothills and beyond.

Friends of Spenceville has published "A Natural Guide to the Lower Sierra Foothills and the Spenceville Wildlife & Recreation Area", which is available in local stores. This colorful and informative map will guide you along the trails and introduce you to the flowers, birds and other animals and plants that live or migrate through Spenceville. It also covers the rich and interesting history of Spenceville.

Directions: To get to the Spenceville Wildlife Area from Grass Valley, drive 12.5 miles west from Highway 49 in Grass Valley on Highway 20 toward Marysville. From the Marysville Area drive East on Highway 20. Turn south from Highway 20, at the Beale AF Base sign, onto Smartville Road. After .9 mile, take the left fork and continue on Smartville Road about 3.8 miles to Waldo Road. Continue along Waldo Road for 1.8 miles to the Waldo Bridge, which was built in 1901 to serve the now extinct towns of Waldo and Spenceville. After crossing the bridge, continue to the left along Spenceville Road for 2.3 miles until you arrive at the turnout and trailhead by the old, cement bridge and abandoned mine site.

For more details about viewing wildlife at Spenceville, and for links to a species list, visit www.CAWatchableWildlife.org.


Latitude: 39.1444444 Longitude: -121.3166667 Elevation: 376 ft

Best Months and Seasons for Viewing

Peak season at Spenceville is the spring when the birds are plentiful and the wildflowers are at their best.


Absolutely one of the most fabulous places to ride horses. Water, scenery, friendly people and 'the waterfalls.'

Suzy McMinn, 5/31/2012

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