COMMENTS: This trail is in a remote and primitive part of Sierra
County. The loop is about thirty miles with nearly 4500 ft. of elevation gain.
This is for strong intermediate riders and will challenge the most advanced
cyclists. It's recommend that you bring a water filter, tools, and be prepared
for any emergency. A very difficult trail if you aren't prepared and in shape
for it. I also heard that there were a fair number of trees on the trail...
The Lafayette Ridge Trail was an Indian trail before the gold rush. Miners used this trail to access the rich placer and load mines in the area. Kanaka Creek produced $1000 a yard in gold. The 16 to 1 mine in Alleghany located near Kanaka Creek has been worked for over 100 years. This hard rock load mine still has an occasional million dollar day.
GETTING THERE: From Nevada City take HWY. 49 north eighteen miles. After crossing the middle fork of the Yuba River drive 1.5 miles and take a right on the Pliocene Ridge Road, locally called the Ridge Road. Continue towards Alleghany. 13.5 miles brings you to a three way intersection after a long straight away. (There is an abandoned USFS cabin here on the right and if you miss this intersection you will drop into Alleghany.) The Ridge Road does a jog to the left here. The Forest City turn off is here as well. Park here and ride.
ON THE TRAIL: Continue on the Pliocene Ridge Road. This bit of pavement is a good warm up. After three miles the Ridge Road ends and Henness Pass Road cuts in. (There is a cattle chute on the left here.) Continue straight through this intersection. This was once a busy pioneer trail. Teamsters hauled their freight during the day while passenger stagecoaches could only use it after dark. Another two miles of pavement brings you to the Cornish Camp site at the second left. (This was the site of a pioneer way station.) Continue on Henness Pass Road a little further and take the next right FS.84. This dirt road has a short climb before a rolling descent. Keep to the left through here. A couple of miles brings you to the Lafayette Ridge Road FS. 201. Keep to the tight heading southwest towards Chips Flat. After a few more miles keep to the left at the "y" and continue southwest to Oak Flat. The road narrows becoming more primitive. After a climb you want to keep to the left as you drop past Oak Flat. (Look for the Indian mortar rock on the right.) A short climb brings you to the end of the road and the beginning of the single-track. If you need water look for the spring trail on the south side and a short way around the side of the hill.
The Lafayette Ridge Trail descends at first but soon you hit the wall with three steep climbs. After that the single-track continues rolling down the ridge through old growth forest and manzanita tunnels. Keep to the right along here. The trail gets steeper with a couple of extreme switchbacks. Eventually you drop down to a rocky point. Take the second right which is passed the rock formation on your left. The trail continues dropping you down to the Kanaka Creek. This is where we usually filter water, eat, soak in the creek, and rest up before the climb.
After crossing the creek take a left on the dirt road. This road climbs up passed the Silver Dollar mine to the Footes Crossing road intersection. Continue through this intersection on to Magnus Orchard Road. Its 2.5 miles on Magnus Orchard Road to the Pliocene Ridge Road. Take a right and its 2.5 mile pavement ride back to your car. The Fish
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