The Hiking Trails at Spenceville

The Spenceville Wildlife and Recreation Area offers miles of gentle trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. To protect this fragile area, bikes and horses are limited to roads and designated trails only. No cross country riding is allowed. Please note that the Loop Trails to Fairy Falls are for hikers only. The trails on site are not named as on the map, but are designated by signs that indicate "trail and "falls." Camping is allowed from September 1 through April 15 in designated campsites and is limited to 7 consecutive days or 14 days total during the calendar year. The highlight of Spenceville is Fairy Falls (aka Shingle Falls) which tumbles over a steep rock cliff into a large pool set in a rocky bowl. The falls are reached in about 2 miles from the trailhead. In springtime the hillsides along the trails are covered with wildflowers. In late-summer the grasses fade to golden hues and finally to winter's tranquil, sleepy gray, when the trails are empty and the birdcalls seem muffled and far-away.

Old Spenceville Road Trail: Hiking, biking, equestrian. Trail begins at the cement bridge in front of the reclaimed copper mine and runs west and east along Dry Creek. After parking at the trailhead , cross over the gated cement bridge and either head west, which will take you to north Pittman Road (named after one of the early residents), or east (to the right at the mine) along the level dirt road for about a mile until you link up with North Valley Trail and the Falls trails. You will pass rich bird habitat along the road and wildflowers in the spring.

North Valley Trail: Hiking, Equestrian, No bikes. After walking along the Old Spenceville Road for about a mile, you will see a trail to the left, or north. Pass through the gate on the west side of the small creek and continue up the hill to a knoll ringed with large Gray Pines. This is a great place to watch the hawks soar above. The equestrian trail continues up the valley and although it is marked in some areas, it can be hard to follow as the signs and trail die out in places, and unless you are experienced in the back-country, it would be easy to get lost.

Fairy Falls Trail: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian. The Old Spenceville Road Trial takes a sharp right at a locked gate, a few hundred yards east of the North Valley Trail. After turning to the right, continue along the old road and through the small wooden gate, up the hill until you arrive at the cattle guard. From this spot you will have wonderful view of an open, broad, pastoral valley, ringed with oaks and covered with wildflowers in spring and a variety of grasses in the summer. At this point the old road heads straight ahead and then to the right, where you will see two trails, the Upper and Lower Loop Trails heading up the hill. If you continue straight along the old road, you will be on the Fairy Falls Trail. This trail follows Dry Creek, giving you an opportunity to enjoy the creek with its occasional small sandy beaches, areas of happily singing frogs, willowed creek-sides and special spots for lunch. Or you may just discover the bedrock grinding holes in the flat rocks that line the creek, left by the Nisenan when they ground acorns at the stream's edge. As the old road turns to trail and begins to climb the hill, you will know that you are near the falls. You will also find a spur trail to the right soon after you begin the uphill climb. The spur will take you to a lower point on the falls and past a lovely, small hillside of golden poppies, blue gilias and other flowers in the spring. This spur trail takes you through dense groves of poison oak, so be alert if you choose to approach the falls on this spur trail.

Upper Loop Trail: Hikers only! Take the left trail that climbs the hill from the Fairy Falls Trail. You will wind your way through oaks and past hillsides of lilies in the spring. This trail offers the best long distance views of the Spenceville area. On a clear day, you can see the Sutter Buttes. This trail links up with the Fairy Falls Trail right near the falls. At the link-up, head to the left along hillsides of poppies and lupines in the spring and walk to the top of Fairy Falls. If you want to explore the area of the creek before it cascades as Fairy Falls, you may continue walking along the upper trail above the falls, past the craggy rocks, and in a hundred feet or so you will arrive at a lovely, small hillside of Chinese Houses that bloom in abundance here in April.

Lower Loop Trail: Hikers only! Take the right trail that climbs the hill from the Fairy Falls Trail. This trail is more wooded than the Upper Loop, although as the trail approaches Fairy Falls Trail, you will cross a sunny hillside, with a small creek winding its way through the buckeyes and oaks below. Within a few hundred yards of beginning this trail, you will arrive at a spur trail to your right, that will take you along the Hilltop Trail.

Hilltop Trail: Hikers only! This spur trail runs up and along a rolling ridge top to a hill that is perfect for bird watching. As the trail dies out on the hilltop, you will find special spots to just daydream, to view the distant hills or to picnic in solitude, since this trail is rarely traveled.

North Pittman Road Trail: Equestrian, hiking. The unmarked trailhead for equestrians is at the campground. Ride through the creek and head east on the unmarked dirt trail that parallels the creek to where the trail merges beyond the locked gate on Pittman Road, or continue on the dirt trail to the north, which parallels Pittman road. Hikers head west on Old Spenceville Road after crossing over the cement bridge. This primarily equestrian trail links up with other trails and with Smartville Road.

South Pittman Trail: Equestrian, hiking. Trailhead is by the wooden bridge at the end of Spenceville Road. This trail travels along the south side of Dry Creek and goes through lovely wooded and open country and is filled with wildflowers in spring. You may also spot an occasional coyote.

Nichols Road Trail: Equestrian, hiking. Trailhead is on Spenceville Road, across from the road from the "campground" sign. Trail heads west and wanders through beautiful open country and groves of oaks.

Dry Creek /Waldo Bridge Trail: Equestrian. This trail runs along the north side of Dry Creek from the campground to just north of Waldo Bridge. Trailheads are at the campground or at the Waldo Bridge parking area. This trail goes through open grasslands with long-range valley views.

Note: Since open hunting is allowed at Spenceville from September 1 through January 31 and turkey hunting from late March through early May, hikers may prefer to avoid the area on the opening days in September and the first two weekends of turkey season.