Technical Level: Intermediate plus
Strenuous Level: Intermediate
Altitude Gain: Around 800 feet
7 mile loop
Off of Highway 49 a few miles east of Auburn
All year, but its really hot in the summer
To get There:
marking Trail Head (also marks stagecoach
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!!
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.
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
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!
Thanks to John Foss, the unicyclone,
for this picture!