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Destination:
Nevada City/Grass Valley,
California

Mountain Biking

Photo of mountain biking in Nevada City and Grass Valley, in the Gold Country of Northern California
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Back to Introduction

For mountain bike riders, Nevada County is a year round playground. Lush forests, rivers and lakes provide the backdrop for a pleasant cruise or a healthy cycling workout.

The colorful towns of Grass Valley and Nevada City offer fine shops, dining and night life. How about a mountain bike weekend? Try one of our noted bed and breakfast inns or historic Gold Rush hotels.

Empire Mine State Park Trail: Trailhead
-- West gate, at hilltop, off Empire St.
Distance: 1.5 - 10 miles
Total Estimated Climb: varies
Time Of Ride: varies
Season: Year round
Degree Of Difficulty: Beginner-intermediate. 3-6 physical, 1-4 technical Wooded trails with easy to challenging terrain traverse California's richest gold mine, on both sides of highway 174.
Trail maps are available at the park visitor center but don't ride in the visitors center area. There is no admission charge at this gate. Please observe the "No Bikes" signs in some areas.

Upper South Yuba Trail: Trailhead
-- South Yuba Camp
Distance: 18 miles up and back
Total Estimated Climb: 1000+ feet
Time of Ride: 2-3 hours
Season: Spring to Fall
Degree Of Difficulty: Intermediate+. 4-6 physical, 4-6 technical.
A fun singletrack ride along the South Yuba River that can be ridden in early Spring when there is still snow on the ridges. Ride offers beautiful river views. From Nevada City, drive out North Bloomfield Road. Ride to trail's end at South Yuba Primitive Camp or take the spur to the river for a swim. A looped ride may be taken via the Humbug Trail and North Bloomfield Road.
* Check out the new section of the South Yuba Trail 1 mile west of Washington starting from Relief Hill Road. This trail links up with the rest of the trail system at the upper end of the map pictured to the right.

Banner - Jones Loop: Trailhead
-- Brunswick Basin
Distance: 20 miles
Total Estimated Climb: N/A Time Of Ride: 2-3 hours
Season: All year, possible snow in winter
Degree Of Difficulty: Intermediate+. 6 physical, 3 technical
This is a favorite mountain bike ride for road riders. From Brunswick Road, take Old Tunnel Road (behind Lucky's) to Banner Lava Cap Road. Turn right, ride up Banner and out to Red Dog Road. Turn right toward Greenhorn Creek then right again at Tumbling Creek Road (old wooden sign). Continue down Meadow Way to Jones Ridge, turn right at Greenhorn and right again at Brunswick. Return to start.

Glacier Lake Ride: Trailhead
-- Bowman Lake Road at Forest Road 18, or four miles up at Carr Lake.
Distance: 20 miles
Total Estimated Climb: 1200+ feet
Time of Ride: 3 hours
Season: Late Spring to Fall
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate+. 7 physical, 7 technical Fun, challenging and beautiful high country ride in the Grouse Ridge Lakes Basin.
Take Highway 20 east and Bowman Lake Road north. Park at Forest Road 18 or Carr Lake. Ride to Feeley and Round lakes (Trail 12E26). Follow signs to Milk Lake and Glacier Lake via Trail 13E13. Return the same way.

Champion Mine Road: Trailhead
-- Nevada City
Distance: 7-10 miles
Total Estimated Climb: 300 feet
Time of Ride: 30 min. to 1 hour
Season: Year round
Degree of Difficulty: Beginner - Intermediate. 3 physical, 2 technical Easy ride on gravel and dirt roads in the Deer Creek canyon. Ride out Factory Street (past Miner's Foundry) to the pavement of Old Downieville Highway. Pass a few houses and take the first dirt road left. Stay high (right) at the steel gate. Ride to Newtown Road and return. Or turn right at Newtown, ride up to Highway 49 and right again on Old Downieville Highway. Return to town. A tougher alternative: From Newtown Road, cross Highway 49 and return to town via Indian Flat and Cement Hill roads.

Augustine Agony: Trailhead
-- Nevada City
Distance: 12 miles
Total Estimated Climb: 1800 feet
Time of Ride: 3 hours
Season: Year round
Degree of Difficulty: Advanced. 7-10 physical, 3-6 technical Ride up Cement Hill Road, turn right at Augustine Road and then keep left all the way down to the South Yuba River. After a swim, attempt to climb back out.

Banner Mountain Trail: Nevada City
Distance: 10 miles
Total Estimated Climb: 800 feet
Time of Ride: 1 to 1.5 hours
Season: Spring to Fall
Degree Of Difficulty: Intermediate. 4 physical, 3 technical
Start at Sacramento Street and the freeway. Ride Railroad Avenue past the Northern Queen Inn to Gold Flat Road. Turn left, then right on Gracie Road. Turn left at Banner Mountain Trail, pass the gun club and ride to the top of Banner Mountain. Return on pavement via Banner Lava Cap and Gracie roads or turn left at the top of Banner and return via Banner and Red Dog roads.

Lower Pioneer Trail: Trailhead --
Park at Harmony Ridge Market (mountain bikers invited) or at the horse staging area off Highway 20, one mile east, across from Lone Grave.
Distance: 10 miles
Total Estimated Climb: 500+ feet Time Of Ride: 1 to 1.5 hours
Season: Can be snowbound in winter
Degree Of Difficulty: 4 physical, 4 technical Ride eastward on the Pioneer Trail, which runs parallel to Highway 20, on the north side. the trail offers wooded singletrack riding with a moderate climb in the eastbound direction. It is marked with small diamond plaques on trees. Ride to White Cloud Campground and return, or continue eastward to Upper Pioneer Trail for a longer ride.
NOTE: The entire route has been developed and is maintained by a local equestrian group, the Gold Country Trails Council. Please extend every courtesy to folks on horseback.

Upper Pioneer Trail:
Trailhead -- White Cloud Campground
Distance: 10 miles
Total Estimated Climb: N/A
Time of Ride: 1 to 1/5 hours
Season: Can be snowbound in winter
Degree of Difficulty: 6 physical, 6 technical This trail parallels Highway 20 on the south side and drifts farther from the highway than the lower section. ride to Skillman Campground and back, or for a longer ride, to Chalk Bluff Road and back. The trail is fairly rugged and mildly technical single-track, offering more challenging riding than the lower section. (This trail can be linked with the Lower Pioneer Trail for a longer ride).

Casci Ranch Loop: Trailhead
-- Five Mile House. Riders invited to park at Harmony Ridge Market.
Distance: 12+ miles
Total Estimated Climb: 1500 feet
Time of Ride: 2 hours
Season: Can be snowbound in winter
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate. 4-6 physical, 3-4 technical Start near the Five Mile House. Follow the Pioneer Trail on the north side of the highway four miles east to Casci Ranch Road. Turn right. Descend to Scotts Flat Reservoir. Return to the Five Mile House via Scotts Flat Road.

Buckeye Loop: Trailhead
-- Cascade Shores General Store
Distance: approx. 20 miles
Total Estimated Climb: N/A, very hilly
Time of Ride: 2-3 hours
Season: Can be snowbound in winter
Degree Of Difficulty: Intermediate+. 6 physical, 3 technical
Ride east on Quaker Hill Road, turn right on Greenhorn and right again on Buckeye Road. Cross Greenhorn Creek. Turn right on Red Dog Road, stay right to Quaker Hill and descend to Cascade Shores.
NOTE: This route follows remote logging roads with few road signs and fewer people. Be equipped and begin early enough to complete the ride by dark.

South Yuba Trail: Trailhead
-- Round Mountain Trailhead, located off Round Mountain Road
Distance: 20 miles
Total Estimated Climb: 1000+ feet
Time Of Ride: 2-3 hours
Season: Spring to Fall
Degree of Difficulty: Intermediate+. 6 physical, 6 technical
A fun and challenging single-track ride with views of the South Yuba River. At one time, the trail was posted as a clockwise riding circuit, but theses days most riders seem to prefer a counter-clockwise direction. From Round Mountain, turn left at the South Yuba Trail, left at Lake Vera-Purdon Road, left again at Rector Road, left at Rock Creek road and return on Round Mountain Road. Watch for poison oak along the trail.

A Few Safety Tips

  • Ride safely (always wear a helmet)
  • Don't trespass on private property
  • Tell someone where you're riding
  • Carry water, pump and repair kit
  • Higher elevation rides are covered in Bob Ward's "Mountain Biking in the Northern Sierra, Vol II, Grouse Ridge and the Excelsior District," available in local stores and directly from Bobo Publications, P.O. Box 19815, Sacramento, CA 95819.
  • Be vigilant for vehicles and other riders.
  • Keep an eye out for dips, holes, rocks or other obstacles on the trail. These can be hard to see, especially in mottled forest light. If in doubt, slow down.
  • Keep in mind that you are sharing these trails with hikers and sometimes horseback riders.
  • Ride Safely & Have Fun!

Local Bike Shops

  • Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop
    457 Sacramento Street, Nevada City CA. 95959
    (916) 265-2187
  • Samurai Mountain Bikes
    10028 Joerschke Drive, Grass Valley CA.95945-95945
    (916) 477-0585
  • Bikes & Hobbies Unlimited
    1451 East Main Street, Grass Valley CA. 95945
    (916) 272-3690
  • Sports Fever
    682 C Freeman Lane, Grass Valley CA. 95945
    (916) 477-8006
  • Coyote Adventure Outfitters
    123 Nevada Street, Nevada City CA. 95959,
    (916) 265-6909
    Downieville (530) 289-0109

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