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U.S. Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Region Viewing Area


Loney Meadow. Loney Meadow. Photo by Deb Carlisle.

Loney Meadow Loney Meadow. Photo by Carl Wishner.

Erythronium purpurascens Fawn lily (Erythronium purpurascens). Photo by Carl Wishner.

Viola adunca Western Dog Violet (Viola adunca). Photo by Carl Wishner.

Loney Meadow Interpretive Trail

Forest: Tahoe National Forest

District: Yuba River Ranger District

Description: Loney Meadow is a spectacular high elevation area that has something to offer to everyone - wonderful wildflower viewing, great birding, an easy hike around a meadow, a moderate hike to a beautiful lake and lots of history! The area has been used by humans pre-historically and historically, and was once the site of a dairy. The site has a 1-mile, flat trail around the meadow with interpretive signs that explain the cultural and natural history of the area. Early season (June) wildflower enthusiasts will be rewarded with hillside slopes of fawn lilies (Erythronium purpurascens). Camas lilies (Camassia quamash), sneezeweed (Helenium bigelovii), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum), tall swamp onion (Allium validum) and baby elephant heads (Pedicularis attollens) are just a few of the wildflowers found in the meadow from mid-June to July. Try to identify the five species of violet as you hike around the meadow.

In addition to wildflower viewing, the meadow attracts a wide variety of birds including western tanagers, olive-sided flycatchers, black-headed grosbeaks, mountain bluebirds; and orange-crowned, yellow-rumped and Nashville warblers. In the nearby aspen grove, you may see redheaded sapsuckers and white-headed woodpeckers. Elusive pileated woodpeckers have been seen on the trail to the meadow.

If you are here in the fall, a short hike to Bull Pen Lake will take you through an aspen grove, certain to provide October hikers with brilliant colors. The west side of Bull Pen Lake experienced a fire in 2007. Look for early spring and summer wildflowers.

For folks that want to hike, continue into the Grouse Lakes area via the trail to Lower and upper Rock Lake. You will be rewarded with a diverse number of botanical specimens!

Safety First: The elevation of this site is 6,000 feet. Always be prepared for changing weather conditions. Snow can present on the roads until early June. Summers are typically warm and sunny but thundershowers can bring rain and hail. Fall days are sunny and cool and thunderstorms can bring snow. Carry appropriate clothing and drink plenty of water. Hats and sunscreen are recommended. Black bears are present in the area. Use caution if a cub is present, the protective mother may be near. Mosquitoes may be present.

The road to Loney Meadow is rough and steep in some places; however, a 2-wheel drive can make it.

Directions: From Interstate 80 west, take Highway 20 approximately 4.5 miles to Bowman Lake Road (USFS Road 18). Turn right and travel approximately 10.5 miles until just after the pavement ends. Turn right where a sign marks the rough, cattle road 0.7 miles away. You will travel through a logged area and veer to the left to the Loney Meadow Parking lot.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest, Yuba River Ranger District.

Closest Town: Nevada City, California.