Willow Springs provides lodging near Yuba River, strategically located in the heart of many recreational opportunities and close proximity to amenities offered in nearby communities. Rich in outdoor recreation, Willow Springs offers a great escape for vacations in both the summer and winter. Located just 15 miles from Nevada City and directly off Highway 49 on your way to Downieville, we are below the snow line so you don’t have to shovel snow each morning to get out or, in the summer, drive down dusty dirt roads for miles to get to your destination.
NOTE: The information we provide herein is deemed to be accurate, but we encourage you to confirm our reporting by contacting the provider directly.
Recreation available in OUR backyard
Perhaps the biggest draw for Nevada County is the Yuba River. Each year thousands of travelers visit the famous Yuba River to swim, inner tube, kayak, go white water rafting, or just lose oneself on a large bolder, listening to the rapids and gazing off into the remarkable landscape. With Willow Springs offering lodging near Yuba River, this natural resource is easily available for our guests. There are countless swimming holes within 5-20 minutes of Willow Springs. Oregon Creek State Park, a favorite, is just 5 minutes down the road. (https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/northern-california/swimming-hole-hike-norcal/) ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GNlfj2DtCM ) South Yuba State Park has a fabulous trail system hovering above the banks of the Yuba. It’s definitely worth a visit during your summer stay but go during the week otherwise you might be met with several hundred cars coming many miles away to take in this landmark. Bridgeport State Park has swimming and hiking trails, and an historic covered bridge. Less crowded on the weekends is both Purdon Crossing and Edwards Crossing offering a relaxing and memorable day with some of the most scenic hikes you can experience and some of the most incredible swimming holes on the Yuba. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLrKSikc-sA.
BULLARDS BAR RESERVOIR
A favorite place for bass fishing, Bullards Bar Reservoir is expansive with many arms like Lake Shasta but without the crowded waterways. Hundreds of fishing and water skiing boats pass by Willow Springs all summer long. Many don’t know we are one of the few places within 15 minutes of Dark Day boat launch that offers 1 bedroom cabins or a lodge for 20+ people with ample parking for trucks and trailers. Continue down the road a little further to Emerald Cove Resort and Marina where you can rent just about any watercraft of your choice from ski boats to pontoon boats. The water is warm and very conducive to kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, water skiing, inner tubing and more. A boating paradise: Bullard’s Bar Reservoir. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4LpDnaQtdM
Scott’s Flat Reservoir – Another boating and fishing reservoir only 35 minutes away, you can rent paddle boards and kayaks directly from the Mountain Rec fleet on site. Every weekend starting Memorial Day, they have a kiosk at Scotts Flat Lake Day Use Area. In June through mid-August, the kiosk at Scotts Flat Lake is available every day, from 10:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (Call 530-477-8006, to confirm Scotts Flat Lake rental days.)
Mountain biking is very popular here for those that like an adrenalin rush or a relaxing ride along the banks of a lake. There is plenty of trails to choose from: https://www.mtbproject.com/directory/8011958/nevada-city. Willow Springs Lodge is only 30 miles to the famous mountain biking mecca of Downieville, home to audacious trails of adventure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgoqrnvgfV0. Willow Springs Lodge houses 20+ people with a chef-style kitchen to cook for large groups and a bike-storage room conveniently located adjacent to our EV Car Charging area.
The Willow Springs Guest Information binder has more detailed information about various rides, including the following:
Empire Mines State Park (beginner), Upper South Yuba Trail (intermed), Banner-Jones Loop (intermed+), Glacier Lake Ride (intermed+), Champion Mine Road (begin/intermed), Augustine Agony (adv), Banner Mountain Trail (Intermed), Lower Pioneer Trail (Intermed), Upper Pioneer Trail (Intermed/adv), Casci Ranch Loop (Intermed), Buckeye Loop (intermed).
What’s available Within 30 minutes From Willow Springs:
HISTORIC NEVADA CITY
From window shopping to imaging life in the wild west, Nevada City is worth a day’s visit. Enjoy one of the many fine restaurants and stroll through the unique shops lining Main Street. If you are here for Christmas, don’t miss this magical town lit up with lights during our Victorian Christmas celebration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW1FzXbl8ZQ
EXPLORE THE HISTORY OF MINING
Nevada County has a rich history of mining and we have many opportunities to explore the Wild, Wild West. There is lots to take in for the history buffs and the inquisitive child.
Malakoff Diggins State Historical Park (https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=494),
Empire Mine State Historic Park (https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=499),
the Northstar Mining Museum (https://nevadacountyhistory.org/north-star-mining-museum),
In the little town of Alleghany, the Underground Gold Miners Museum (http://www.undergroundgold.com).
Writer’s Note: I have not always enjoyed going to museums but I found the Empire Mine State Park a must. Call or plan ahead. They are busier than you would think.
For the Kids 1 to 1 ½ hours away:
www.AlpineMeadowStables.com offers horseback riding from 1 hour trips to full day rides crossing Bear Creek while taking in Juniper Mountain. Packages range from $50 to $190. 530-583-3905.
Alder Creek Adventure Center offers horseback riding at their equestrian center at www.tahoedonner.com/amenities/ 530-587-9400
Golfland Sunsplash offers over 30 exciting rides and features waterslides, miniature golf, go-karts, laser tag, bumper cars and more. Packages range from $25 to $50 for full day activities while a la carte rides range from $7 to $14. www.golfland.com/roseville/ 916-784-1273
For those seeking Snow:
It’s easy to rent x-county, snow shoes, downhill skies, snow boards, paddleboards, kayaks or inner tubes in Grass Valley at Mountain Recreation. Their prices are very reasonable and we have always found them to be super helpful and easy to work with. Once you have your gear, you have a lot of spots to choose from to enjoy the snow!
X-country and snow-shoeing:
During winter months as you travel east on Highway 20 (towards Tahoe) the elevation rises quickly as you travel through Tahoe National Forest. Literally 15 miles from Nevada City there is often snow several feet deep in these areas where you can park and x-country ski or snow shoe for free, but you must have brought your own gear. The first such place is “White Cloud” campground (about 15 min). If the snow isn’t what you want it to be, continue and try “Steephollow” (about 25 minutes). A third spot is 16.8 miles from the 49/20 turn-off and is called Omega Diggings. Look for the sign that says Overlook drive.
If you prefer groomed trails with more opportunity for lessons and variety, check these x-county ski resorts out:
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
www.NyackSnowPark.com at Emigrant Gap offers sledding and inner tubing on a variety of gentle hills. Parking is $25 and you must bring your own gear. 530-362-4855
www.kingvaleresort.com charges $20 for parking and $25 admission per person. If you want to purchase a sled, they are available for $26. 530-427-5090
There are several ski resorts listed below that also offer inner tubing and beginner ski runs for kids and adults. Check availability at any of the resorts listed below.
For those seeking Snow 1 ½ hours away:
www.skisodasprings.com 530-426-1010 ski/bd tube/sled Lessons Rentals
www.sugarbowl.com 530-426-9000 ski/bd tube/sled Lessons Rentals XC
www.donnerskiranch.com 530-426-3635 ski/bd tube/sled Lessons Rentals
www.tahoedonner.com 530-587-9444 ski/bd tube/sled Lessons Rentals XC
www.rideboreal.com 530-426-3666 ski/bd tube/sled Lessons Rentals
www.skihomewood.com 530-525-2992 ski/bd Lessons Rentals
www.palisadestahoe.com 800-403-0206 ski/bd tube/sled Lessons Rentals Tram
www.northstarcalifornia.com 530-562-2267 ski/bd Lessons Rentals
Ananda Gardens and Expanding Light Temple
https://crystalhermitage.org/2022-tulip-watch/ – Visit the nearby Ananda Community in April to enjoy 17,000 tulips in bloom in their gardens. It’s simply spectular.
Activities Available at Willow Springs:
Life is about creating Memories. At Willow Springs, we offer more than just lodging near the Yuba River. We strive to introduce our guests to experiences that stay with them for a lifetime. In addition to our Lodge, guests may elect to utilize our Yoga center for movement, meditation or holding workshops. Equipped with a mini-kitchen and a full wall of mirror, this sacred space is where our guests get to indulge. The healing area located in the Memorial Herb Garden offers a 6-person hot tub, a wood-burning sauna and a cold-plunge tub. At the Artist Village, classes are available for glass blowing, juggling, ceramics, and more. Registrations required.
THE HEART CENTER
YOGA. MOVEMENT. MEDITATION. GROW
For an additional fee, Willow Springs can arrange for a private or couple’s massage, an instructor for a yoga class, an environment for a meditation session and 1000 square foot space to hold a workshop.
LIFE CELEBRATIONS. STAR GAZING.
Our 1700 square foot pavilion with three sides opens sits adjacent to our wedding terrace and open bon fire pit. This space is available for those that want to have an outdoor gathering (with backup interior), a wedding or life celebration, to enjoy the rustic outdoor wet bar and sit around a crackling fire, roasting marshmellows, and gazing at the stars.
THE PERMA-CULTURE GARDEN
With the world shifting and changing dramatically in many ways, one important shift Willow Springs supports is creating a sustainable food source. Explore our permaculture garden and greenhouse to experience and learn ways to create your own self-sustaining garden. Please register for our one hour walking tour.