Michigan Bluff to Deadwood
On the Western
States 100 Trail
Technical Level: Intermediate
Strenuous Level: Advanced plus
Altitude Gain: 5300 feet
14 miles on way, 28 miles total
Michigan Bluff, near Forest Hill
Watch for snow!
To get There:
of Trail Head (6 marks the trail head; Click on "More Details"
to get a good map)
of End of Trail (Again, click on "More Details")
From Sacramento: Take Interstate 80 to Forest Hill road
in Auburn. Take Forest Hill Road North East towards the city of Forest
Hill. Stay on Forest Hill road for something like 15 miles.
Turn right on Michigan Bluff Road and head towards Michigan Bluff.
Stay on Michigan Bluff road until it basically dead ends into the little
town of Michigan Bluff. Park along the road somewhere, but make sure
you don't get in the way of any residents (If anyone is around, you might
want to ask where you should park). The trail starts on the left
hand side of the road just before it dead ends.
Some people would consider it ludicrous, some would consider idiotic,
some would consider, well, insane. We climbers call it fun.
Over a vertical mile of climbing, an epic ride, but don't complain too
much, I've done it on a unicycle (and I didn't get to coast back down that
5300 ft drop!).
The navigation on this trail should be pretty easy, but you need to
be careful, if you accidentally get off the main road you could get really
lost. Follow the Western States 100 Trail down into the Eldorado
Canyon. Just after crossing the small bridge at 2.5 miles, turn left
towards Deadwood. Climb back out of the canyon. You will reach
the deserted mining town of Deadwood about 6.5 miles from the bridge.
Turn right on Deadwood road. But first go up to the left and check
out the old graveyard!! Neat-O. That is all that is left of
the town! Stay on Deadwood road for about 8 miles until you reach
the paved Forest Hill Road. Turn around and head back the way you
came. You can go left on Forest Hill road and ride back to your car
the way you came, but the trail has got to be a lot more fun!
I would suggest that you be in very very good physical shape before
attempting this ride. The highest point on the trail is about 5500
feet, so you will definitely feel the effect of altitude if you live at
the lower elevations. This combined with general fatigue could get
you in trouble. Be Careful!!
This has got to be one of the best rides around. In the first
2.5 miles you will descend about 1700 feet. That's a 12.8 % grade!!
For comparison, Steven's Trail is about 5%. Remember, you are going
to have to face this climb at the end of a 30 mile ride, so don't be afraid
to turn around early. The ride down is tight single track and
gives you plenty of opportunities to fly off of big cliffs. Big very
very careful, this can be an extremely dangerous trail. Also, watch
out for erosion on the trail. I haven't ridden after it rains, but
the trail looks susceptible to washing out. The climb from the bottom
of the canyon back up to Deadwood is longer and higher, but not as steep
in general. But there are a few short sections in this area that
are the steepest on the trail. Deadwood makes a good lunch break.
Deadwood road is a dirt road that gets some automobile traffic, so it is
not technical. It is wide, and seems to be well maintained.
Deadwood road is a steady climb, but it is not very steep. Be careful
to stay on the main road. There are several turns that you may accidentally
take if you weren't paying attention. I thought it was all pretty
obvious, but you may want to carry a detailed map. The Western States
100 Trail parallels Deadwood road, so you can take that if you would like.
Just make sure you don't head towards Devil's Thumb or Last Chance.