© photo by Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship
The foothills around Nevada City are a new hotbed of mountain biking activity. Scenery, terrain, climate, access, new trails, supplies and services, and a local history of elite active sports competition, all contribute to the town’s MTB appeal. This is an area where advanced mountain bikers from San Francisco, Sacramento and Reno can “bring it” for the week or weekend – there’s lots to explore.
Downieville Downhill race course – About 40 miles from Nevada City on 49 North is Downieville, home of the Downieville Downhill, billed as “ the Ironman of mountain bike downhill.” The course follows four trails – Sunrise, Butcher Ranch, Third Divide and First Divide – offering flow, speed, exposure, Sierra views, waterfalls, swimming holes, creek crossings and a drop of 5,000 vertical feet over 17 miles. Singletrack 85% of the way. Check with Yuba Expeditions for trail shuttles and conditions.
Advanced MTB group rides in Nevada City – Advanced riders gather at 6pm on Thursdays for recreational group rides starting from 467 Sacramento Street outside theTour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop (TONC). Visitors welcome. These rides aren’t an official service of TONC, but the shop offers information at (530) 265-2187 or (530) 265-3822, or find them on Facebook for last minute ride updates.
Augustine Agony – A beautiful but grueling 3-hour, 12-mile ride on the way to and from the South Yuba River (with lots of shin-height poison oak along the way). Not very technical, but with nice singletrack, some steep switchbacks, and a challenging 1,800 foot climb. From Nevada City, ride up Cement Hill Road, turn right at Augustine Road and then keep left all the way down to the river. In hot weather, consider taking a swim before the ride out.
Upper Pioneer Trail – A varied roller coaster, with 10-miles of scenic, all-mountain singletrack above 5,000 feet, starting at White Cloud Campground right off Highway 20 about 11 miles east of Nevada City. The main trail, running out and back to Chalk Bluff Road, is moderately difficult and strenuous, but advanced riders can explore a slew of un-named spur trails leading to big jumps and drops.
Across from White Cloud, the easy Lower Pioneer Trail quickly reaches the Old 5 Mile House and Harmony Ridge Market – good stops for refreshment, supplies and trail info. From here, the new Scott’s Flat Trail drops 4+ miles to the reservoir, with dirt-packed berms, switchbacks, and flowy and scenic sections, while the Miner’s Trail continues west alongside Highway 20 to Nevada City. Nothing along these lower trails is especially technical, but they’re nice ways to extend rides from Upper Pioneer.
Pump Tracks – The new Truckee Pump Track is getting great reviews, with a pump park built for advanced skill progression. It’s located at 12200 Joerger Drive in Truckee, CA, an hour from Nevada City. On the way to Truckee, at the Boreal ski resort along I-80, is the Woodward Tahoe action sports training center, featuring an indoor pump track and a BMX dirt park known as “The Trenches”.
© photo by George Lamson