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Rumor has it, some schmo was out looking for his lost cow, stubbed his toe, and found a hunk of gold the size of a brain. The masses heard about this Mother Lode through the grapevine and the deluge began. Nature apparently didn't appreciate all that digging and blasting and struck back with a devastating forest fire, making the minerals even harder to extract. Some lesser men and women bailed, but those committed souls who remained, and their descendants who still believe the state's riches lie beneath the cute downtown, forested hills and streams, have stayed. Former mines lie dormant (though you can tour them). But tourism has not slowed. ...

Rumor has it, some schmo was out looking for his lost cow, stubbed his toe, and found a hunk of gold the size of a brain. The masses heard about this Mother Lode through the grapevine and the deluge began. Nature apparently didn't appreciate all that digging and blasting and struck back with a devastating forest fire, making the minerals even harder to extract. Some lesser men and women bailed, but those committed souls who remained, and their descendants who still believe the state's riches lie beneath the cute downtown, forested hills and streams, have stayed. Former mines lie dormant (though you can tour them). But tourism has not slowed. Folks headed up to Lake Tahoe stay over in restored Victorian mansions. History buffs (and newly crowned gold prospectors) populate the streams, trying their luck at what some still believe to be the greatest supply of gold on the planet. If you are hunting for a quiet, rather low key, small town to unwind with a glass of local harvest wine, straight-off-the-plow cuisine and a slew of hiking trails to get the heart pumping, Grass Valley is for you.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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