Small Towns: Downieville

Here’s one from our series on small towns in the foothills, with some highlights from our visits.

About an hour’s drive beyond Nevada City, Downieville sits deep in at the confluence of the Yuba and Downie rivers. Two bridges—the Durgan and the Jersey—cross the water, leading from a tiny commercial district to residences and inns against the mountains. Downieville is a hub for mountain bikers (host of summertime’s Downieville Classic race and festival) and white-water rafters. Dogwood blooms beside the rivers in springtime and monkey flowers line the moist canyon walls. Business hours can depend on a variety of factors, including weather, season and the pandemic, but if possible, meander through the Downieville Museum—housed in a circa 1852 building and packed with collections from the Gold Rush and logging and mining eras. Near the courthouse, grab a self-guided walking tour of Downieville’s historic points of interest, including the Sierra County Sheriff’s Gallows, sure to strike a chill.

Walking down the street in DownievilleDownieville Museum