Empire Mine State Historic Park near Grass Valley was the destination for the October hike of the Sac County Hikers. Twelve hikers led by Rich Blackmarr participated in the excursion to the foothills.
The 856-acre park with a maze of 367 miles of deep mine shafts and tunnels, some as deep as 8,000', was once California's richest gold-producing mine.
The impressive and unique feature of this state park is the juxtaposition of the mine's rustic 13 buildings on barren earthen ground in contrast to the lush landscaping of the Bourn Family residence and gardens.
The park has a Jekyll and Hyde personality and the dramatic contrast between these two areas are unlike anything I had ever seen. It was like visiting two parks for the price of one.
The state park in its entirety is a real gem and well worth a visit. Within the visitor center is a crude but very interesting 3-D model of the network of tunnels and shafts and a audio narrative of how the labyrinth was created using "hardrock" mining methods.
The docent led tour of the Bourn Cottage and Gardens was very informative and the self-guided tour of the mine structures and operations were excellent. Most of the buildings at the park have been restored.
Although the hike itself was short (2 1/2 miles), the outing to the Sierra foothills and tour of the state park were outstanding.
To view the album, click on "Empire Mine Historic State Park Hike" below photo:
|From Empire Mine State Historic Park Hike|