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  1. #1
    Living the Dream
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    Hola GnarCal. Ride Suggestions for Downieville, Graegle, and Grouse Ridge

    I am native Norcal Boy, Santa Rosa, but I live in Virginia now. Looking for some epic ride suggestions for the Sierra Buttes. I will have my Intense Spider Comp. I do NUE 100 mile races so I am reasonably fit, but I enjoy all mountain descents. I am looking to spend 6 days camping in those areas and would like to ride 30-50 miles daily. I am planning on riding there 6-12 July. I would greatly appreciate any ride, camping, and eating suggestions. I tried to find maps/guide books to purchase, but the only map was the sierra buttes trail stewardship and my mac is having trouble with their website. I am going to try from work tomorrow. Thanks for any help.
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  2. #2
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    Lots of options in Downiville and much more fun than anything I rode while in Virginia. Plus no humidity!!

    The SBTS map is really the only option. Stop by either shop in Downieville (some people have preferences for one or the other, kind of a Ford vs. Chevy thing) or Howling Dog in Graeagle and they can give you good information.

    I'm a fan of riding Big Boulder (or any of the other Packer Saddle based rides) as a loop from Downieville. BB is about 40 miles. Just ride 49 to Union Flat Campground and follow FS93 to the Saddle. When you get back to town you can add more miles on the N. Yuba trail.

    Another good option is to start in Graeagle, ride up Mills Peak and then explore the Lakes Basin. When you're done you can head back to Mills Peak or down Grass Lake trail (I think that's the name). When you're done, head over to the Brewing Lair for refreshments.

  3. #3
    Living the Dream
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    Thanks!
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  4. #4
    Living the Dream
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    I got the map so I am stoked. I am trying to figure out if I should try and hit up Grouse Ridge or just focus on the lakes basin and downieville for 6-7 days of riding?
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  5. #5
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    I haven't made it to Grouse Ridge but you might consider heading over to Tahoe for a couple of days. It's close to D-ville and there are lots of great rides... If you have shuttle availability, Mt. Rose to Toads via the Rim Trail is a little over 60 miles or you can cut it down to 40 something miles by starting at Spooner Summit. In Truckee, Tahoe Donner to Hole in the Ground can be a long one, too.

  6. #6
    Living the Dream
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    Thanks. I have done most of the Tahoe rides including the punisher. I rode Downieville in 2005 and have not been back since. I may do Hole in the Ground as that is one of the rides I have not done yet. Thanks again for all the great info.
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpenglow View Post
    I got the map so I am stoked. I am trying to figure out if I should try and hit up Grouse Ridge or just focus on the lakes basin and downieville for 6-7 days of riding?
    You can't lose with either option. There is perhaps more variety in Dville/Lakes Basin, and more amenities there, but Grouse has a bit more of a primitive feel to it. Most stuff around Grouse is slow going...

    A couple TR's from Grouse to entice you more...

    If a dog wrote this TR

    Grouse Ridge Attacks!

  8. #8
    Living the Dream
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    Thanks Empty Beer. Great reports. Those emerald pools look amazing. Photos reminded me of my John Muir Trail Hike. Can you recommend a good map for Grouse Ridge.
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  9. #9
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    Here's a map I edited last year... it doesn't cover the descent off Grouse Mountain though.

    Hola GnarCal.  Ride Suggestions for Downieville, Graegle, and Grouse Ridge-grouse-2013-copy.jpg

    This kinda shows the descent to the bottom of Laings X-ing, but it isn't a map that shows the trails... it's just the route:

    Hola GnarCal.  Ride Suggestions for Downieville, Graegle, and Grouse Ridge-grouse-enduro.jpg

    Here's a fun, shorter loop on on the Blue Lakes Trail/Grouse/Spaulding Lake Trail: Mountain Bike Ride Profile | Blue Lake, Grouse, Spaulding near Nevada City | Times and Records | Strava

    The descent off Grouse Mountain (from the lookout tower area) is fairly primitive and hard to follow at times. And there could always be many trees down (as with other parts of the area). It's all an adventure.

  10. #10
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    Only use Yuba expeditions. They are the organization (SBTS) that maintains the trails, builds new ones, and made the trail map. All your money goes to support that. Shuttles cost 5 bucks more, but they are worth it. Become a member and get discounts and feel good about yourself.

    Camping in dv area/riding from town:

    1.don't ride up the highway if you can help it, it sucks. Climb lavezzola rd, go up 2nd divide, up butcher to pauley creek - up that to big boulder, descend that and 3rd divide back to first divide and town. Killer loop. Many variations of this, also good to shuttle. If you shuttle, go down butcher, up pauley to maximize single track descending.

    2. Up saddleback road to chimney rock to empire creek trail. Big dirt road climb to above treeline peaks single track to fast single track descent. Rarely done by tourists.
    Herkimer mine trail to Downie river trail is another way down - more direct. Almost never ridden

    3. Shuttle to packer saddle: deer lake ohv to spencer lake trail (crazy) to lavezzola creek trail. End in Downieville. Requires some hike a bike due to tech, but is worth the experience.

    Lakes basin loops:
    1. Up round lake trail to Oakland pond trail (rustic) to Jamison lake trail to smith lake trail to grayeagle lodge for a beer, then long lake trail back. Round lake recently maintained rock work by SBTS.

    2. Mills peak should be ridden up and down several times. Built by SBTS

    3. Many options on getting up elwell from south side to descend the north side. Insanely good. Mud lake is new trail built by SBTS.

    4. Tamarack lakes loop is great for views of the buttes. Super scenic.

    Maybe I'll see you up there. Enjoy.
    here we go again

  11. #11
    Living the Dream
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    Thanks man. I will be on a Black Intense Spider Comp. Appreciate the great info.

    Quote Originally Posted by eleven-yo View Post
    Only use Yuba expeditions. They are the organization (SBTS) that maintains the trails, builds new ones, and made the trail map. All your money goes to support that. Shuttles cost 5 bucks more, but they are worth it. Become a member and get discounts and feel good about yourself.

    Camping in dv area/riding from town:

    1.don't ride up the highway if you can help it, it sucks. Climb lavezzola rd, go up 2nd divide, up butcher to pauley creek - up that to big boulder, descend that and 3rd divide back to first divide and town. Killer loop. Many variations of this, also good to shuttle. If you shuttle, go down butcher, up pauley to maximize single track descending.

    2. Up saddleback road to chimney rock to empire creek trail. Big dirt road climb to above treeline peaks single track to fast single track descent. Rarely done by tourists.
    Herkimer mine trail to Downie river trail is another way down - more direct. Almost never ridden

    3. Shuttle to packer saddle: deer lake ohv to spencer lake trail (crazy) to lavezzola creek trail. End in Downieville. Requires some hike a bike due to tech, but is worth the experience.

    Lakes basin loops:
    1. Up round lake trail to Oakland pond trail (rustic) to Jamison lake trail to smith lake trail to grayeagle lodge for a beer, then long lake trail back. Round lake recently maintained rock work by SBTS.

    2. Mills peak should be ridden up and down several times. Built by SBTS

    3. Many options on getting up elwell from south side to descend the north side. Insanely good. Mud lake is new trail built by SBTS.

    4. Tamarack lakes loop is great for views of the buttes. Super scenic.

    Maybe I'll see you up there. Enjoy.
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  12. #12
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    As far as Grouse goes, as of last Fall there were upwards of 30 new blowdowns on Grouse Ridge Trail North and the awesome new Lindsay Lakes re-lo. Spaulding also remains to be cleared and we may get the green light to start on that with a small crew next week. Not anticipating much help from USFS Trail Crew considering this year's fire season but we will be asking for help regardless.

  13. #13
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    Should you have some time to kill and wanna scope out a killer view, hike your way up to the old fire outlook on top of the Sierra Buttes. 3-4 miles straight up from the Packer Saddle shuttle drop off and worth it!

  14. #14
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    Hi. Would you guys recommend camping in Downieville or Sierra City? I would like to be near the river to swim in the afternoon and possibly fly fish. I have heard that wild plum is good. Thanks.
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpenglow View Post
    Hi. Would you guys recommend camping in Downieville or Sierra City? I would like to be near the river to swim in the afternoon and possibly fly fish. I have heard that wild plum is good. Thanks.
    There isn't a campground "in" downieville. There are some primitive sites along Pauley Creek if you drive through town to the upper First Divide trailhead area. They are first come first serve, there's a few spots out there that are nice though.

    Wild Plum is a nice campground, but in Sierra City you have to drive (or do the XC climb and then do a 10 mile road climb at the end) on both ends of your ride, so I rarely stay there.

    There are several sites on Hwy 49, south of Downieville: Indian Valley, Ramshorn - and north of Downieville but not all the way to Sierra City: Loganville and Union Flat.

    Bonus for all those is having fire rings, as long as the USFS is still allowing fires, which I'm not clear on. No fires at primitive campsites.

    Lakes Basin campsites are also really good. No rivers to fish, but lake fishing up there. Many to choose from.
    here we go again

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post

    Here's a fun, shorter loop on on the Blue Lakes Trail/Grouse/Spaulding Lake Trail: Mountain Bike Ride Profile | Blue Lake, Grouse, Spaulding near Nevada City | Times and Records | Strava
    Did that as a shuttle to the end of Rucker Lake Road, but couldn't find Pioneer Express and ended up going over the dam (which was still pretty cool).

    Is the start of Pioneer Express at the big pipes?

    Seem like the climb up Bowman LR and Rucker LR would be a beeotch, but it's only 4 miles by your gps.




    Live to Ride, Ride to Live

  17. #17
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    the strava route I linked was from a pro rider If I was able to shuttle, I'd take the lift up to Rucker Lake Rd.

    Here's the info that helped me finally figure out how to connect to Pioneer from where Spaulding hits the big pipes: Lk. Spaulding/Grouse Ridge camping/snow report?

    ....just go over the bridge and head under the pipe and keep your eyes open for the beaten path (you still have to cross one usually dry drainage about 150 yards past the pipe.).

    Did you guys just ride Spaulding? Any new deadfall?

  18. #18
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    Thanks. A couple of more questions on camping.

    Would it be a big hassle to camp at loganville or wild plum and drive to downieville to start my rides? Also, is there any parking at the base of the Fire Road by Union Flats (93). I would ride from loganville, but it doesn't seem safe on 49. Is there enough of a shoulder? I would like to get some big climbs in for training so I don't mind doing several thousand feet in a day. Union Flats is already full or I would stay there.

    Thanks
    Quote Originally Posted by eleven-yo View Post
    There isn't a campground "in" downieville. There are some primitive sites along Pauley Creek if you drive through town to the upper First Divide trailhead area. They are first come first serve, there's a few spots out there that are nice though.

    Wild Plum is a nice campground, but in Sierra City you have to drive (or do the XC climb and then do a 10 mile road climb at the end) on both ends of your ride, so I rarely stay there.

    There are several sites on Hwy 49, south of Downieville: Indian Valley, Ramshorn - and north of Downieville but not all the way to Sierra City: Loganville and Union Flat.

    Bonus for all those is having fire rings, as long as the USFS is still allowing fires, which I'm not clear on. No fires at primitive campsites.

    Lakes Basin campsites are also really good. No rivers to fish, but lake fishing up there. Many to choose from.
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  19. #19
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    I'm heading up to Sierra City this weekend, primarily for some family/non-riding activities -- camping at Wild Plum, hiking up to the fire lookout, floating in the river, drinking beer. I'd like to go for a quick XC ride too, but won't have time for shuttling or a long point-to-point ride.

    Can anyone recommend any short (a couple hours) loop or out-and-back rides in the area?

  20. #20
    I'm really diggin it!
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    Are you going to break camp every night? Sounds brutal.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpenglow View Post
    Would it be a big hassle to camp at loganville or wild plum and drive to downieville to start my rides? Also, is there any parking at the base of the Fire Road by Union Flats (93). I would ride from loganville, but it doesn't seem safe on 49. Is there enough of a shoulder? I would like to get some big climbs in for training so I don't mind doing several thousand feet in a day. Union Flats is already full or I would stay there.

    Thanks
    From Loganville or Wild Plum, you wouldn't "drive" to DV to start your rides, unless you were hopping on a shuttle. You'd just ride from camp (up 93 or up the race course). Riding on Hwy 49 isn't unsafe in my book... and I hardly ever ride on pavement.

    Only camping at the base of 93 is Union Flat. I suppose you could camp up 93 somewhere, but I hate dry camping (no water nearby) and you will have campfire permit issues.

    Since it's nice to end your ride in DV, the closest campground is Ramshorn. It's not on the river, but a short roll/walk gets you there for rinsing/cooling off. Not the best DV area campground, but convenient for some.

    Loganville is a great spot for getting away from the "crowds". Some neat mines in the area, but river access can be steep, unless you know where to go.

    FWIW, I prefer to camp closer to the top: Diablo or Packsaddle. There's a nice creek running behind Diablo for cooling/rinsing off. Or cruise up to Packer Lake for a nice swim. You can easily ride up to the saddle/crest from camp, do your ride, then either hop a (usually reserved) shuttle back up, pedal it, or hitchhike. If you are solo, hitchhiking is pretty easy. If you're with a group and can't get a Yuba/DVO shuttle, have one guy hitchhike (sans bike) while the others enjoy town... the hitchhiker can get the vehicle and come back for their bros. Town to Packer Saddle is about a 40+ min drive one way.

    Best day is riding a route from the top to DV... getting a ride back to the top, then riding a route down to Graeagle... and ideally getting a ride back (to Diablo or nearby).

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davey Simon View Post
    Are you going to break camp every night? Sounds brutal.
    No. I was getting a spot for 6 days to base out of.
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  23. #23
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    Thanks for the great info. What is the name of the xrace trail climb out Sierra City on the map. Also, can you recommend any routes from Packer to Graegle. I definately want to ride Mills Peak Trail, but it looks like there are a ton of options in getting from Packer to Graeagle.
    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_Beer View Post
    From Loganville or Wild Plum, you wouldn't "drive" to DV to start your rides, unless you were hopping on a shuttle. You'd just ride from camp (up 93 or up the race course). Riding on Hwy 49 isn't unsafe in my book... and I hardly ever ride on pavement.

    Only camping at the base of 93 is Union Flat. I suppose you could camp up 93 somewhere, but I hate dry camping (no water nearby) and you will have campfire permit issues.

    Since it's nice to end your ride in DV, the closest campground is Ramshorn. It's not on the river, but a short roll/walk gets you there for rinsing/cooling off. Not the best DV area campground, but convenient for some.

    Loganville is a great spot for getting away from the "crowds". Some neat mines in the area, but river access can be steep, unless you know where to go.

    FWIW, I prefer to camp closer to the top: Diablo or Packsaddle. There's a nice creek running behind Diablo for cooling/rinsing off. Or cruise up to Packer Lake for a nice swim. You can easily ride up to the saddle/crest from camp, do your ride, then either hop a (usually reserved) shuttle back up, pedal it, or hitchhike. If you are solo, hitchhiking is pretty easy. If you're with a group and can't get a Yuba/DVO shuttle, have one guy hitchhike (sans bike) while the others enjoy town... the hitchhiker can get the vehicle and come back for their bros. Town to Packer Saddle is about a 40+ min drive one way.

    Best day is riding a route from the top to DV... getting a ride back to the top, then riding a route down to Graeagle... and ideally getting a ride back (to Diablo or nearby).
    "And I shout that your all fakes and you should have seen the look on your face"

  24. #24
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    I'm not sure of the name... here's the XC course climb: Strava Segment | Downieville XC Full Climb to Packer Saddle It's just a slog that'll suck your energy and might keep you from doing a 2nd killer ride the same day. If you're racing Dville Classic, it's good to at least check it out. Pretty straight forward climb. At about 4.5 miles up, you're at Blue Point... stay right at the fork. Once you hit the flat fire road up top, just stay left on that main road to Packer Saddle (still a couple climbs)... don't take any of the left side roads.

    Here's the climb up from Union Flat: Mountain Bike Ride Profile | Downieville. Union Flat, Butcher, 3rd Divide, 1st Divide near Downieville, CA 95936, USA | Times and Records | Strava

    For Packer to Graeagle, head north (on the fire road of course cough cough)... either head to Mt. Elwell (which will include a hike-a-bike to the summit... not terrible), then a long descent, connecting into the Graeagle Creek Trail to the bottom. Or take any of the options before Elwell (I trust you have a map) and work your way to either Graeagle Creek Trail, or head to Gold Lakes Lodge... cross the Gold Lake Hwy and climb up to Mills Peak and enjoy the descent.

    You really can't go wrong on any route in the area, as long as it isn't a random fire road that goes nowhere.

    Have fun!!

  25. #25
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    Did Packer Saddle to Greaegle two weeks ago and here few pointers.
    If riding through the basin, don't go through Connector trail around Round Lake. Its mostly HAB and wasted opportunity.
    Descent from Mt Ewell could be fun, but Greaegle Creek wasn't impressive. Yespecially at the end you loose a lot of elevation on fire road. Smith Creek I was told much more satisfying.
    Or do Gold Lake and Mills Peak instead.
    I used to run tubes like you are, but then I got thorn in my wheel.

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