Malakoff Diggins SHP commemorates the site of the nation’s largest hydraulic mine. The park also contains significant cultural, and natural resources that offer invaluable lessons in history, geology, nature, and the environmental impacts of human activity. The devastation caused by decades of hydraulic mining at Malakoff Diggins is evidenced by the dramatic landscape that exists today. The exposed walls of the hydraulic mine reveal the Sierra Nevada foothills’ underpinnings and serve as a window to the region’s geologic history.
Although the hydrology of the park has been largely shaped by human intervention and manipulation during the active mining period, the Humbug Creek watershed remains one of the the park’s most valuable natural resources, providing permanent riparian habitat and fresh water for the ecosystem. The Humbug Creek watershed drains to the South Yuba River, a state-listed Wild and Scenic River.
The forested hillsides of Malakoff Diggins SHP are dominated by Ponderosa pines, with incense cedar, white fir, black oak, Douglas-fir, big leaf maple, sugar pines, and Fremont’s cottonwood adding to the diverse forests. Whiteleaf manzanita, deerbrush, buckbrush, and huckleberry are common in the forest understory, and an abundance of native flowering plants adorn the landscape in the spring and late into the summer months.
The park is home to abundant wildlife including mountain lions, black bear, black tail and mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and many smaller mammals. The bird life makes its presence known with song and flashes of brilliant colors through the forest, especially in the early morning and evening hours.