“Enjoy the steep climbs past historic mines with panoramic views on this challenging loop.”
— Bob Gardner
The Railroad Bed Trail is the easiest and then it becomes more challenging climbing to the cemetery.
A short loop with significant climbing and a few technical sections that can be combined with the Stewartville & Ridge Trail Loop
for a grand tour of the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve.
Starting from the parking area near the entrance and visitor center, head south on the Railroad Bed Trail. This flat trail runs parallel to the paved road to the Somersville parking area where it joins the Stewartville Trail
and Nortonville Trail
Continue south on the Nortonville Trail
which begins climbing towards the Rose Hill Cemetery. The cemetery is half-way between the Somersville and Nortonville town sites and was the final resting place for miners and their families. It's an interesting spot to check out and catch your breath. The road climbs a bit more to the first junction with the Black Diamond Trail
at Nortonville Pass.
Continue on the steep downhill to the Nortonville town site. At the bottom, past old mine tailings, is the second junction with the Black Diamond Trail
. Turn left (south) on the gravel road then take a quick right near a rock outcrop which brings you to the Black Diamond Trail
. Note: Going straight on the gravel road leads to the hiker-only Coal Canyon Trail.
The next 1.4 miles is all climbing, steep at times especially at the beginning. It eases off a bit just before the junction with the paved Black Diamond Way about half-way up. Continue up this narrow paved road and after a couple steep switchbacks the communication towers comes into view. When you reach the gate, the dirt section of the trail splits off to the left going east. This is the top of the climb with views over the Delta. It's a smooth descent most of the way back, with a short technical section past a sand mining area and a rocky climb to rejoin the Nortonville Trail
and a downhill return to the start.
History & Background
Besides the historic cemetery, this ride brings you past the Black Diamond Shaft Mine, the largest in the area; "Jim's Place," a hermit's cave; and the "Air Shaft," a mine vent.