Malakoff Diggins is one of California’s lesser known state parks. The park was created in 1965 to preserve the controversial story of our country’s largest hydraulic gold mine which devastated the landscape and lead to the nation’s first environmental law. At the park, on a winding road 26 miles northeast of Nevada City, visitors can see the huge cliffs carved out by the streams of water used to wash away the mountain to find gold.
When miners got discouraged at the small amount of gold for the huge effort involved in gold panning, they turned to hydraulic mining. The North Bloomfield Mining Company constructed dams, built a flume and a ditch system to bring water to the Diggins along with a 7,847 foot bedrock tunnel that served as a drain. They used seven-huge water guns (monitors) and at its peak, the water power could wash away 100,000 tons of gravel a day. They also washed mounds of toxic tailings into the Malakoff pit or into the Yuba River downstream. Park visitors can walk the 20 miles of hiking trails throughout the state park and see the scarred white and gold cliffs in the Malakoff pit. You can also walk through one of the tunnels during the dry summer months.
The town of North Bloomfield which grew up around the Diggins was devastated when the federal government effectively shut down hydraulic mining in 1884 after a Marysville property owner filed a suit over the debris flowing down from the mine. Many buildings in the town look as they did circa-1880’s. There is a hardware store, a bar and a museum. A few of the historic homes are still occupied. You can get guided tours of the town certain times of the year.
The Chute Hill Campground is in the park open during the spring/summer and early fall. There are 30 large family campsites, bear-proof bear lockers and flush toilet restrooms. There are no showers or RV hookups. There is also a group site available for up to 60 campers.
Reserve a campsite through Reserve America up to 7 months in advance at
www.reserveamerica.com or by calling (800) 444-7275.
LOCATION AND DIRECTIONS
From Nevada City, travel 11-miles north on highway-49 toward Downieville. North Bloomfield Road is not recommended. Turn right on Tyler Foote Rd. turnoff from Highway 49 and follow the main paved road to the park. The main road changes names a few times (Cruzon Grade Road, Back Bone Road, Derbec Road, North Bloomfield Road). You will stay on paved roads all the way to the park. These are not high-speed roads.
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
23579 North Bloomfield Road
Nevada City, CA 95959