East of Nevada City in the Tahoe National Forest, the Pioneer Trail is a 25 mile route open to hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. The route ranges in elevation from 3,500 feet to 5,500 feet. The west end of the trail is easier, while the east end if difficult.
There are many places where you can access the trail, including Harmony Ridge Market, Lone Grave, White Cloud Picnic Area, Washington Overlook trailhead, Upper Burlington Trailhead, Chalk Bluff trailhead, Omega Rest Stop, Ziebright Mine, all along Highway 20, and at Lang crossing on the Bowman Lake road.
Trail Description: From Five Mile House to White Cloud, the trail parallels Highway 20. Just west of the camp¬ground, the trail crosses the highway and goes deeper into the forest. From White Cloud to Skill¬man Campground, the trail is often located on abandoned ditches and roadbeds in dense timber. Fron Skillman to Chalk Bluff, the trail enters tree plantations where wildfires killed most of the older trees. East of Omega Rest Stop, the trail crosses to the north side of the highway and fol¬lows an old pioneer road to Steephollow Creek.
The trail climbs, then descends toward the high¬way on the old Tahoe-Ukiah highway route, the predecessor of Highway 20. Now on the south
side of the highway, the trail descends into Bear Valley, where it meets the Bowman Lake Road on the east side of the valley. The trail then follows the Bowman Lake road to the South Yuba River, crossing the bridge at Lang crossing. From the crossing, the trail climbs through nearly solid rock, then into live oak woodlands and finally into a mixed conifer forest until the trail joins the Spaulding Lake trail at a penstock that provides water for hydroelectric power at Spaulding Lake.
Turning left and traveling ~ mile, the trail returns to the Bowman Lake Road; turning right on the Spaulding Lake Trail, you can access the Grouse Ridge Trail and the many trails within the Grouse Lakes area.
Overall, Pioneer Trail is the 76th most popular hiking trail of all 88 hikes in California.