Clementine LoopClementine loop and Middle fork of American River

Technical Level:    Intermediate plus
Strenuous Level:   Intermediate
Altitude Gain:       Around 800 feet
The Ride:             7 mile loop
Where:                 Off of Highway 49 a few miles east of Auburn
When:                  All year, but its really hot in the summer

To get There:

 Map marking Trail Head (also marks  stagecoach Trail )
Note:  The map marks 49 as Eldorado St., I have no idea where that came from, its just 49.

From Sacramento:  Take Interstate 80 North towards Auburn.  Follow the signs to highway 49 South.  You will twist through town, and its easy to miss a turn, so pay close attention to the signs. At the edge (literally) of town, 49 drops into the American River Valley.  Its kinda cool, one second you are in the middle of this town, and the next you're falling off the edge of the earth on a really steep curvy road.  Its a couple really curvy miles past Auburn to the bottom of the canyon.  This is called the "confluence".  When you get to the bottom, you will see the river to your right.  49 turns right and crosses the river at the T intersection.  Go straight (towards Foresthill) at this intersection instead of following 49.  There is dirt parking along side the road immediately after the T.  Park somewhere.  Get ready to ride!!

The Ride

Back side of Clementine Loop This area is known as the confluence because the North Fork and Middle Fork of the American River join here.  This trail follows the North Fork of the river and then turns and follows the Middle Fork at the end of the ride.  You have to cross the bridge to get to the trail head.  The trail starts on the North East (opposite side of the bridge from 49).  The Trail on the North West (on the 49 side of the bridge) is Stagecoach Trail.  The trail head is on the left side of the road, and starts off as fireroad.
Critical Turns:
There are several turns on the trail, so you might want to print this out and bike-bag it.  About 500 yards after the start of the trail, it Y's.  Go left.  For about 1.5 miles, you ride along the North Fork, with some big drop offs.  Be careful!  At 1.5 miles, you will come out on a paved road.  Go straight (don't turn left).  You get to climb for about 1.5 miles.  At about 3 miles,  there will be a dirt area with some big rocks on the right.  There is a big telephone pole there, and I think a sign (but I can't remember what it says).  Its tuff to miss, its the only trail head on the road to that point.  Turn right, and bear right (a different trail goes to the left, but you want to stay right).  In another mile, the trail splits again.  Go left.  Straight takes you up a HUGE climb and then comes out on Forest hill road.  Anyway, you want to go left.  You know have a mile of awesome, gnarly down hill!!  Have fun, the climb is over.  The trail will come out on Old Forest Hill Road in about a mile or so.  Go straight across the paved road onto the dirt road.  You want to head towards the OHV area.  About 300 yards down the gravel road, there is a trail on the right.  It has a gate on it to keep off the motorized vehicles.  Turn right here.  You're almost home.  Another mile or so along the Middle Fork, with more cool riding and big drop offs.  You will come out on the opposite side of the road from which you started. Turn left, cross the bridge, pack up your wheeled device of torture, and stop for Big Mac in Auburn on the way home!

The Trail

Forest Hill Bridge above the trailThis trail is one of the best in the Sacramento Area.  The first half is all climbing.  The first mile and half or so are on great single track, with spectacular views of the Forest Hill Bridge and the North Fork of the American River.   The picture to the left shows the 750 ft tall Forest Hill Bridge, and the trail going underneath the bridge (it's the lower trail on the right side of the picture).  Pretty cool huh!  The trail goes under the bridge (you will eventually climb higher than the bridge) and the climb starts.  Be careful, there are some pretty big drop offs.  Unfortunately, there is mile and half section of pavement after the single track, but its really steep, so you'll be glad you're not on dirt.  This part of the ride is very strenuous.  Be sure you have plenty of water, this is a hot climb!  I've seen an awful lot of people really suffer on this hill, so make sure you're in good physical shape before you try this trail.  After you get off the road, the trail is a mix of fire road and single track (but you definitely couldn't drive on it).  There is some more climbing.  The left turn around a mile from the pavement marks the down hill.  Be careful, and control your speed, there's some pretty good opportunities to eat rock along the trail. On the back side of the trail after crossing Old Forest Hill Road, the trail becomes nasty single track.  This is the best part of the ride.  There are really big drop offs on really skinny trail so watch it!  Also, there are always lots of hikers, so keep that in mind before you go screaming around a blind corner.  We've had to do several bike and unicycle recoveries (as in they fell of the side of the cliff) but luckily no one that I know has been hurt, but the potential exists.  If you not sure, just walk it!

Trail Details:

Thanks to John Foss, the unicyclone, for this picture!