Sand Marsh Trail

August 1, 2022
Sand Marsh Trail
Part 1 of 5: Vacation to the Lakes Basin, Sierra County
Total distance walked: .60 miles

Pinecones and Pinedrops

Chris and I headed to the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains. There’s a lovely lake north of the Yuba River Canyon that I’ve previously written about. Sardine Lake sits at the foot of the Sierra Buttes in the Tahoe National Forest.

Sardine Lake and the Sierra Buttes

When my husband was a kid, he and his family vacationed at the small resort nestled under the trees at the lake’s northeast shore. When our kids were little, we brought them to this area too, and now we were there for a week-long respite with our grandchildren.

Two-year old Luke at Sardine Lake. The hand-carved bear mimics the contour of the Buttes.

It was a cloudy and cool morning on the first day of August. We left the guys behind to fish, while my daughter-in-law Sarah—who carried James in a baby backpack, and Luke and I sauntered to the nearby Sand Pond.

Boats for rent at Sardine Lake.

In the 1800’s, the Young America Mine was one of the largest quartz mines in the area. Its stamp mill sat just above Sardine Lake. The mill’s rock waste or mine tailings were dumped at the site of the Sand Pond.

Young America Mine. Shows the mining company’s buildings above Upper Sardine Lake on the right, a flume running down past the buildings, Sierra Buttes in the distance. Photo credit: California State Library, Hendel Manuscript Collection.

Years later, the tailings were removed and reprocessed. When they were removed, a low spot in the earth remained.

First peek at the Sand Pond.

Water from Sardine Lake filled the basin resulting in a beautiful sandy-bottomed swimming hole.

The Sand Pond.

Passing the Sand Pond, we continued our stroll to the Sand Marsh Trail.

At the trailhead.

Looking at the trail from a two-year old’s perspective, pinecones were fascinating, particularly the small ones that hungry squirrels gnawed into sharp, pointy cones. Then there were the stalky, sticky stems of pine drops.

Woodland pinedrops.

For the rest of the week, each time Luke saw a long-stemmed wildflower, such as the toxic ranger buttons we walked by, he’d say, “pine drops, Gramma.”

Walking by the ranger buttons.

The interpretive trail highlighted the gold mining era and changes that have taken place over time. The path headed into a marshy region along a wooden boardwalk. Signs warned that the boardwalk was closed. When I walked it in 2019, it was quite rickety and falling apart.


We turned around and made our way back to Sardine Lake, to our men who were finished fishing.

On this pleasant and easy-going hike, Luke learned about pinecones and pinedrops. It was a great start to a week filled with fantastic hikes.


6 thoughts on “Sand Marsh Trail

  1. You are always able to make me feel like was there and at the same time instill a desire for me to actually be there! What a special time for you and your children and grands! Making memories, Gramma!!! Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

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