Pony Express - Echo Summit to Silver Fork
So Saturday afternoon I got a text from Bullhorn asking if I wanted to do a cat shuttle which left me scratching my head cause I was not so sure how fun shuttling cats would be and where would we take em??
Luckily he meant a car shuttle and we met in the AM in Silverfork, left a car and shuttled up to Echo summit.
We bypassed the section of the Pony express that drops down to Strawberry (Babyhead hell) before Lovers Leap and opted to head up to the top of the Leap for the super fun downhill from there.
I was really surprised on how good of shape the trail was from Strawberry down to Kyburz, after Kyburz there was probably 10 or so trees down which was a bit of a pain but not to bad. It's kind of amazing how much trail there is between Kyburz and Silverfork, by car it seems to take like 1 minute, by bike we were starting to think we missed our exit back to town and were headed to Whitehall!
About 24 miles, 6000 feet of descending and 2600 feet of climbing later we found our way back to the car, it was killer.
Only negative to the ride is after Strawberry the trail runs somewhat close to 50, so you usually have the sound of traffic in the background.
Next time I'll start some where in Tahoe to extend it out, I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.
More pics, GPS track, and stats here
Pony Express - Echo Summit to Silver Fork - MTBGuru: mashing up GPS data, photos and maps to share mountain biking, road bike, hiking and other outdoor experiences
Last edited by TahoeBC; 05-29-2012 at 10:42 PM.
Banned for showing Boobies.
Another great ride post!
Awesome photos. Love the Strawberry area.
Thanks guy's, no need to be Jealous, just get out there and ride it yourself!
Is he looking for a lost wallet or something after riding the log across the falls?
Wait, and you probably did this ride after skiing the peak in photo #6?
Looks like another awesome ride&adventure, kudos (and envy)!
Sebt frm my iPhne usig Tapaak
Thats look like too much fun! Looks like you went through Sierra At Tahoe resort also
Good to see the outlawed mc trails are still in good condition and they didnt road rip them. Bikes are next on Karen Schambachs list fyi..
Following TBC's and Bullhorn's lead (and those on here that made us aware of this trail), a few of us checked this out over the weekend. It beyond exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new adventure. It had a lot more punchy climbs than I thought there would be, and the 23 miles kinda felt like 33 when we were done. So if you don't mind some route finding, some H-A-B, some overgrowth here and there, and some fallen trees, you'll probably enjoy this ride too
TahoeBC's pix pretty much tell the story, but I can't help myself by posting some too.
We had no snow, but my creaky old bike started with a salt bath at Echo Summit:
Zon muscling up and out of Huckleberry Cyn:
A short H-A-B climb near the top of Lover's Leap (Hwy 50 zig zag by Horsetail Falls in the background):
Top o' Lovers Leap:
Our singlespeeder exiting the western slope of the Lover's Leap trail:
You only get this close to Hwy 50 a few times... I was pleasantly surprised that the trail did leave 50 behind for plenty of the route:
Zon and Jack Slade laying down some artistic tracks:
Pretty impressive work!:
A little off trail exploring found this nice slab:
The trail, for the most part, is fairly well marked. We only looked around a few times for signage:
Just fun trail:
Thanks for the motivation TBC... it was great!
A nice way to finish the day while waiting for the shuttle vehicle to return:
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Last edited by Empty_Beer; 06-03-2013 at 11:32 PM.
Reason: fixed pix
That looks like so much fun!!
Its all Shits and Giggles until somebody Giggles and Shits
Right on Jeff, glad you liked it, and a big thanks to Tahoetic who really helped open my eye's to this very under utilized area Some more reading for those interested in the area.
Pony Express Strawberry to Kyburz
Last edited by TahoeBC; 06-12-2012 at 01:02 PM.
There is a lot less water there than last weekend. You should have rode across the log !!
Originally Posted by Empty_Beer
So where we dumped out onto Weber Mill Rd. above Silverfork, does the XP trail continue West on just fire roads?
Has anyone explored the flume west of Silverfork/south of 50, heading west toward Fish Pond or Sly Park?
Just looking at the GPS track I found on Google earth, looking fairly close it looked like the XP was all fireroad from there.
Pony Express Trail - Part2 - MTBGuru: mashing up GPS data, photos and maps to share mountain biking, road bike, hiking and other outdoor experiences
I made a wrong turn between Kybruz & Silverfork, next time I'll probably just exit on that wrong turn as you still get to ride the cool stuff past Kyburz around Sugarloaf, but you can skip that last steep climb with all the downed trees, see arrow on the google earth image of my GPS track.
On Saturday me and my wife and two friends re-traced the Echo Summit to Silverfork route that everyone else has done here. I've been living in Folsom for the past 12 years or so and holy moly I can't believe it has taken me this long to check this trail/route out. It's way sweet! Totally exceeded my expectations.
We also the climb up and over Lovers Leap, and dang the DH off the backside is suuuper fun! For some reason we wasted a bunch of time down on Hwy 50 in Strawberry trying to find where the trail started on the other side, but it turns out we just rode by the one obvious trail marker that you can see from the road. Duh. For the most part though, the trail is REALLY well signed. I was quite surprised how many 'XP' markers were on the trees and how many PnyXprss stakes we saw in the ground. Also surprised to see all the cool rockwork on the trails and all the wooden bridges too.
The section from Echo to the Leap was awesome. Just a bit sandy, but that's to be expected. A little bit of hike a bike to get the top of the Leap. The descent from the Leap is awesome. My least favorite section was probably from Strawberry to Wright's Lake Road where it just seemed to be a bit fire-roady. But then after crossing Wright's Lake Road, it got much better, true singletrack and very rollercoast-y at times with short steep punchers and descents off the back. And then it really got good again from Kyburz'ish to Silverfork.
There were only about 5 downed trees from Kyburz to Silverfork and we were able to move 2 of them out of the way.
Anyway, again, I'm stoked to finally have "discovered" this trail after all these years. Basically been in my backyard the entire time. Go out and ride it! It needs more tracks!
By the way...once you get to Silverfork (Weber Mill Rd I think?), does anyone know if it keeps on going? And if so what is it like? I am also wondering if this could be done as an out-and-back but holy crap that would be a FULL day adventure.
Strava route. Approx 3.5 hr ride time, and approx 5.5 hr total time. I'm guessing could knock off at LEAST an hour know that I know the route:
Mountain Bike Ride Profile | Pony Express Trail (Echo to Silverfork....lots of routefinding!) near | Times and Records | Strava
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Two pics. Both from the top of the Leap
I felt the same way Ron, after we did it this spring, how many years have I been driving past this trail!!!
Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces
Turns into fire road after Silverfork, But basically you can add unlimited single track to the front end of the ride. I've been starting from Luther pass or Big Meadows & hitting up Scotts Lake and/or xmas valley first before riding up Hawley to the Pony express. Also doing a side trip over Sierrra at Tahoe to hit the lower portions of Bryant meadows & Sayles Canyon is a worthy extension
Hard to make out the face in your photo, but is that Matt riding with you?
Originally Posted by TahoeBC
Where do you park top and bottom for this ride?
At the top we parked in the SnoPark at Echo Summit.
Originally Posted by mestapho
Bottom we parked at the gas station in Silverfork.
If you zoom in all the way on my map on my Strava link you can see exactly where we parked / started / ended
I've been wanting to do this ride since it was first posted. I just need to find someone who doesn't mind trail hunting a bit to shuttle with me.
Is the Lovers Leap section marked?
Do you guys think the holiday traffic will make this a complete PITA to do this Friday?
You can also just park on the shoulder after the passing lane ends, before getting to the gas station (east bound) , this will put you almost exactly at where you will drop out back onto 50 from this fire road or drive up the fire road a bit and park.
Have not been sure how cool it is to park at the gas station for the day, but sounds like Tyrone had no problems.
There is no sign for Lovers leap stay left before the Pony express drops towards Strawberry.
Originally Posted by TahoeBC
I don't think that's it, I think that's just a hard switchback as you near the top of the leap. the turn is just a bit farther back down the trail (I think!). Regardless, it's pretty hard to get lost I think as when approaching it, the trail just kind of splits...you'll be able to tell that the right hand split heads down toward Hwy 50, and that the left split goes "up". You'll want to go left and up
Originally Posted by mestapho
Thanks. I just hate not knowing trails as I have a habit of making the wrong turn when I'm not familiar and their aren't good trail markers.
Here is the turn location, buy a GPS
I use my iPhone for GPS. I'll export the gpx from one of the betas here.
I was supposed to shuttle this ride with a buddy today. He ended up bailing. I wasn't going to miss out on riding, so I decided to tackle it solo. However, since I would have to climb everything, I decided to start in the middle and tackle the climb first. I started off at 42 mile tract and climbed the lovers leap trail. That was quite a climb considering just seconds earlier I was comfortably sitting in my car. Luckily nothing that brutal was encountered for the remainder of the ride to echo summit. It seems that the word is out on this one, because I ran into 3 different groups of mountain bikers. Although, all of them were smart enough to shuttle. Overall, it was a fun ride. Besides two very short sections of snow, the trail was in great condition. I'm guessing round trip was in the low 20's with elevation gain around 4k.
Did you ride to Kyburz? Been noticing the forest service doing a lot of logging off 50 and was wondering if it has effected the trail.
No, just strawberry to echo and back.
Originally Posted by TahoeBC
Logging effect on XP...
I just rode this as part of a 3 day bike-packing trip (write up with pics and gps to follow once my buddies and I compile the data).
In response to your question, the logging did not effect the trail until just above Silverfork. It was my first time on the Pony Express Trail, so I don't know if it felt more narrow/remote before they trimmed out all the dead trees and piled them up in clearings along the trail, but they made sure to leave or re-post the XP markers in trees along the way. We started to loose the trail somewhere above Silverfork before the last climb that descends to Weber Mill Road. There were lots of downed trees with multiple little "paths" the trail split into, with no more XP markers in sight. We picked our way through some of the forks, but eventually popped out early on the private driveway that empties out on 50 right across from the Silverfork gas station. We tried to climb back up Weber Mill Road, but missed it as we picked up speed down Hwy 50 (it is a very small dirt road with no signage). But I am assuming we didn't miss much except for fireroad climbing.
IMO, the El Dorado irrigation ditch would be the preferred way to go from there to Pollock Pines. But you would miss out on the cool XP Zipline above Pacific House.
Rollin' rocks will never die...
Thanks for the update, have not been south of Strawberry yet this year. Can you provide any more information on the eldorado irrigation ditch?
It's sketchy in spots but secluded, graded double-track awesomeness in others.
We only took the El Dorado Ditch from just past Fresh Pond to the pump station north of Pollock Pines. I had done some web snooping and seen pictures of hikers walking the El Dorado Ditch between Kyburz and Pollock, and it looked like a great non-road way to score some secluded but easy downhill miles. In fact, Google Maps has the section we took highlighted in green, as in "bike-friendly". But no one obviously verified that route, as it was as the El Dorado Irrigation District officially states: "Too dangerous to allow the public to use." There was gate hopping and very old plank walking involved (pics in my write up to follow).
We ran into a local just outside of Fresh Pond who didn't think we should take the Ditch from there to Pollock Pines, but DID think it would be a great way to get from Kyburz to Fresh Pond. Since Weber Mill Rd turned out to a bust (in our case), in retrospect it would have been prefect to just have gotten onto the Ditch at Silverfork. Of course, I can't personally verify this as an option, but I will be sure to try next time I ride the Pony Express Trail.
Rollin' rocks will never die...
That's some great info, thanks, really looking forward to the write up on this ride, sounds like it was something special!
Still looking forward to your write-up!
Originally Posted by jadedbee
I did a little poking around on Sunday, but didn't have time to really check out all that much of the ditch. The surroundings of the ~3+ miles I checked out were unbelievably beautiful.
A lot of it looked like this:
There were some short, rickety bridges as well as short, elevated flumes. This one had an easy bypass:
Once I got on my bike and headed East, some of it was cool... narrow and nice, along the old flume:
Too bad this didn't go for miles and miles:
Then I hit an elevated flume, which not ridable, but walkable if I pushed my bike, wheelie style. When I noticed it went a long, long, looooong way, I decided to turn around rather than go out further, only to come back on it. I'll save that for another day:
Ideally, you ride this section during the time of year water isn't running through the flume***
(photo stolen from a hiker blog)
***Note regarding the ditch. I found this comment on a blog regarding a hiker's trip report that explored the ditch:
As always, live life at your own risk. Don't be stupid and get yourself hurt or killed.
"Warning to Readers:
Please be advised that the hike described in this trip uses routes along El Dorado Irrigation District’s canal/flume system. The system conveys water for hydroelectric power generation and drinking water for the District’s customers.
The banks of the canal sections and the walkways along the flumes are for maintenance access only and are not designed or intended for recreational use. As noted in the trip description, some of the embankments and walkways are old and narrow in places. They do not allow room for error.
The water that courses through the system varies greatly in volume and is cold throughout the year. A misstep along an embankment or flume walkway could well result in a tumble into very chilly, difficult-to-escape water. Indeed, people have suffered serious and even fatal injuries along this system.
While some of the pictures above may entice hikers, El Dorado Irrigation District does not condone public use of the access embankments and walkways. It’s just too dangerous.
Instead, we encourage visitors in the vicinity of the canal/flume system to take advantage of the many fine hiking trails that are intended for—and maintained as—recreational pathways on Eldorado National Forest.
EID Communications Director"
After leaving the ditch, I went to check the Pony XP across the highway at Pacific House. Going down the dirt road, I did see the XP diamonds in trees. The rough road ends at the river, where a bridge once was. Crossing now requires getting wet. The XP looked to be going straight up the hill to the left of the big rock in the middle of this pic:
Then, I drove up to Ice House Rd. to scope out the Pony XP marked by the red lines on this map... couldn't find any sign of the western end of the trail east of Road 1041, but did see a couple places that align with the trail heading west from Road 1041:
To be continued...
The pieces are coming together, thanks for the recon mission
I have been using MTB Project app more and more, especially of course when I go somewhere I've never been. The app is much improved over a year ago, when I got f===ed by the app in Oregon.
Originally Posted by BK-XC
I had 100% good experience lately. Jus sayin. Now I am more confident to do this ride.
Also give Trailforks a try. I was kinda down on it at first but when I rode in Whistler it was great. I've been adding trails to it as well. MTBProject really wants you to write a book to add a ride or a trail, which makes for great quality, but it just takes too much effort. Trailforks lets you add in trails and asks you for a decent amount of info but you don't have to commit a ton of time to just add in a trail.
Originally Posted by Blackies Pasture
All in all it's great to have both on hand so you can do your offline navigating!