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Forest City Trails

About the Forest City town: Forest City is a old mining town located in the hills south of Downieville Ca. During the gold rush this was a very profitable mining area with lots of hard rock mines dotting the hills. Now its more like a ghost town with just a few folks living full time. Some of the buildings are leaners. Forest City's houses are mostly privately owned although the land they reside on is owned by the Tahoe National Forest. So this means you can park and walk freely around town on the public land but the houses are private so they are off limits of course. They have some mining displays in town and folks are real friendly if you do see any. It is a cool mining town to check out. FTA has a house on Tin Can Alley which is on the right, off School Street as you pass the school.
There is a lot of trail building going on in Forest City these days. The Forest Trails Alliance has teamed up with the USFS to build a network of trails in the area. Trails follow old mining trails, mining ditches and include vista overlooks and other points of interest. Built for mountain biking and designed for fun, these trails have banked corners, lots of switchbacks, and alternate trials features for the more advanced riders. Intermediate to advanced riders will enjoy these trails. Trails flow through dense forests, crossing creeks and switchbacking up and down mountain ridges. Designed for a 5% grade, most are suitable to ride in either direction, although there usually is a desired route direction. Forest Trails Alliance is a group of friends and trail builders who are interested in preserving and expanding mountain biking opportunities in the area. Connect with them if you are interested in helping. Here is another and bigger area map of the local trails. Forest City Map
Half of the Sandusky Trail was built fall 2007 {Trail Work Pictures} The Ridge Runner and Highgrade trails were built in 2008 and finished in late spring of 2009. The 3 trails trailhead at the Big Tree parking on the Pliocene Ridge Rd. is a bit hard to see because it was vandalized with a tractor spring of 2008 and again 2009 and 2010. The signs have been vandalized too. Cell phones barely work well on the ridge, and it is a lightly populated area. Alleghany, located on the other side of the ridge, has a bar and store with a phone at Casey's Place.

Ridge Runner, and Highgrade, and Sandusky trails loop: This route is a popular loop and has been nicknamed "the Prime Cut". The downhill on the Ridge Runner and Highgrade trails is full of every kind of switchback, rolls and turns as you descend into Forest City. Built for mountain biking this loop is probably 12 miles with 1200 ft of climb. The Ridge Runner and Highgrade trails were finished late spring 09 so they are groomed and very nicely settled in. The Sandusky has 14 switchbacks and lots of fun features.You can start either at the Big Tree parking area where the 3 trailhead parking area or in the Forest City town. I like starting in Forest City for this ride so the ride ends with a fun downhill. So park where you want I'm starting the ride in Forest City.
Forest City is on the right {east} off Mtn. House Rd. After parking, bike through this small mining town. You pass some mining displays and a few old houses. You can access the trail from town by either riding up Mountain House road towards Downieville. Or you can ride through town to School St. and catch the trail from there.Its a short way up Mtn. House Rd. after passing under the power lines look for Sandusky Rd. that takes off to the right. Is almost a mile from tow look for where you cross Sandusky Cr., which is a rocky and rough but short section of road. Sandusky trail takes off to the right after the small creek crossing. There isn't a sign here so you have to watch for this right turn after you cross the creek. Riding singletrack you climb the creek edge and cross the Sandusky Creek on the Little Bump Bridge. A few miles of trail will bring you to the bike bridge across the North Fork Oregon Creek. Skip the next paragraph if you came this way.

If you were wanting to catch the trail by riding through Forest City town then take Main St. through the small mining town. It's one block to the other end of town, take the left on School St. and climb up the graveled road passing the old school on your right {FTA's cabin is on the right here.} and a few more houses as you leave the town area. The road becomes dirt and narrows and is a bit steep. Ignore the side roads and continue on the main dirt road till you come to where it tee's into the Sandusky Trail maybe a half mile from town. The route to the Big Tree parking is to the right, but you might want to take a short ride to the left and go see the new bike bridge that the FTA built in 2008 across the N. Fork Oregon Creek.

At the bike bridge more advance riders might like to ride the alternate Pearl Necklace of boulders dropping down to the bridge. After playing on the new biker bridge head back and take the Sandusky trail south east. Keep to the left at the "Y". You climb following the canyon with some switchbacks and views of the Pliocene Ridge. After 2 miles or so you cross the S Fork Oregon Creek. The trail continues leveling out for a bit then some switchbacks for the last climb to the top of the ridge. The Sandusky trail crests the Pliocene Rdge at the Big Tree Parking. Take a break and take in the tremendous mountain views to the south. There are 3 trails here, the Sandusky is the middle one. You will see where the Ridge Runner is on the west end of the parking area. You will see a small sign is a few feet into the trail. This new downhill trail drops with a half dozen switchbacks of all types then kinda parrallels the out of sight Pliocene Ridge Rd as it descends down the ridge.There are rocks to jump and other thrills as well as great views of the canyons and Yomana Mtn. This is a fairly fast trail and after 3 miles of fun you will see a big flat rock on the right and a carron of rocks on the left. This is where the Highgrade Trail begins. This trail is steeper than the Ridge Runner averaging a 5% grade and is the favorite downhill trail. {This is also near the intersection of the Pliocene Ridge Rd. and Mtn. House Rd. if you want to access it.} Continue biking now on the Highgrade Trail. You will see Mountain House Rd on your left. Trail climbs for a bit finally peaking and then dropping down with plenty of switchbacks of all varieties as you descend the thickly forested mountain ridge. As you get closer to town you pass the Plum Valley Ditch Trail on the left, then you cross a spring next to a small pond on the right. Here you see Mountain House Road to your left below the Trail. You will continue another mile dropping down the trail till you pop out onto Mountain House Road. You are at the edge of town here continue to the right, to your car, if you parked in Forest City. To the left will take you back up Mountain House Rd to the Pliocene Rd that you would take a left on to ride the 3 miles back to the Big Tree Parking.

Truckee Ditch Trail and the Sandusky Trail loop: This fun loop is maybe 16 miles with 1300 ft of climb. Although you can start in a few spots I enjoy starting my ride at the Big Tree parking on the Pliocene Ridge Rd. where the 3 trails meet.
Take in the view before you head out on the trail. There are 3 trails here so look for the trail that begins on the east side of the parking area, the Truckee Ditch Trail. This singletrack contours the hill, slightly descending, as you ride a old and empty miners water ditch. You ride in the ditch and on the ditch's burm for a half mile where you "tee" into the S. Fork Rd. Take a left here onto the jeep road and after a few hundred feet of descending the rocky road it dead ends. There is a trail sign here. It sez 6 miles to Henness Pass Rd. Back on singletrack you cross the S. Fork Oregon creek climb a bit then descend back on to the ditch. The trail has been groomed this year 2010, and is a beautiful singletrack. There are logs to ride for the more advanced and some easier log jumps in the trail. After a mile or so you come out of the forest to a view area. You can see Forest City below from the trail here. In this open area the Truckee Ditch trail takes a abrupt right with a impossible switchback, leaving the ditch where it climbs up and around the back side of Yomana Mtn. A nice climb for a half mile or more in the tree shade. After cresting Yomana there is some down and up before a nice descent bringing you to the crossing of the N. Fork Oregon Cr. After crossing the small creek you find yourself back on the ditch again contouring downhill with the hill. You pass under the power lines as you continue on the ditch a bit more. Great view of the other side of Yomanna and you can see that part of the ditch that you didn't ride. Some climbing and then descending in the forest, then you will notice a log landing and road below on the left. You pop out onto a dirt road. Take a right here on the dirt road, climbing up the road 200 ft or so then look to the left for continuation of the trail. Once you get on it the trail is like a old road and you climb up this a few hundred feet then take a left onto singletrack. You cross a little creek here. There's a little log jump, and after that there is a little downhill and you end up on a double track for a little bit. You ride the double track for a very short way then look for where the singletrack trail takes off to the right. There's a half mile of rolling then a half mile of downhill sweet singletrack. Trail now continues onto the Truckee Extention Trail near the Henness Pass Rd. This trail drops down to Sandusky Trail, and then continues on for a few miles to the Mountain House Overlook.
It is a few miles of flowing downhill trail to the start of the Sandusky Trail, at Sandusky Creek and the Little-bump bridge.

Sandusky Trail is a singletrack and continues from here. You will climb up a beautiful section of trail from the Sandusky Creek. The trail climbs a bit and you can see Sandusky Rd on the right just below the trail. After a few miles of rolling trail you pass under power lines, the same ones you passed under earlier on the Truckee Ditch Trail.You will see a mining sign, warning of the N. Fork Mine that is below the trail. After the mine warning sign its just a short way to the N. Fork Oregon Creek Bike Bridge. Here you you will pass over a new mountain biking bridge that FTA built in 2008. Notice the "Pearl Necklace" of boulders, on the right, for the more advanced riders to play on. After enjoying the creek crossing you continue a short way and the trail will split with Sandusky Trail to the left. {The right trail will drop you onto a dirt road then on to School House Rd that descends into Forest City} Its about 3 more miles of moderate uphill after the bridge crossing before you finish this ride. The last section climbs with a number of switchbacks in a thick shaded forest. There are some great views of the Pliocene Ridge. You will cross over the small South Fork Creek. Trail flattens out a bit here and then crosses the South Fork Jeep road. There are more switchbacks as you ride the last section to the top of the ridge. Here you pop out at the Big Tree parking at the top of the ridge.
I think I counted 14 switchbacks on the Sandusky trail. The Truckee Ditch trail has quite a few too. There are lots of things to play on if you are a more advanced rider, log and rock jumps, and the coolest is the Pearl Necklace. I saw some young kids on unicycles trying to ride it the other day. You can ride this loop either way, Sandusky is a great downhill too. If you still have energy after this ride conceder riding the Ridge Runner and Highgrade trails downhill to Forest City and then ride back on the pavement. This loop is a favorite ride of mine already... enjoy.

Plum Valley Ditch Trail: This trail follows a old mining ditch above Oregon Creek. Maybe 7 mile long with a 600 ft drop. Access is off of the lower High Grade trail, or you can see the trail cross Mtn House Rd., 1/4 mile out of Forest heading towards the Ridge Rd. on the right.
If you start in Forest City, ride south on Mtn. House Rd. You can jump onto the High Grade Trail on the left after passing the last house, and then ride up it for a 1/4 mile or so till you see the Plum Valley Ditch Trail turn off to the right. {If you pass the pond you rode too far.} Or you can ride up Mtn. House Rd. and its about 1/4 mile on the right. Look for the PVD sign. Trail is a double track road at first with a nice downhill. After a 1/4 mile or so keep to the left at the Y. A short distance later and you hop onto the berm of the old mining ditch. From here the trail is fairly easy to follow as it stays on the ditch most of the way to Oregon Creek Rd. You pass some gold mines as you descend the PVD Trail. Miners have no sense of humor with trespassers so be aware and keep to the trail when passing mines.
When you come to Oregon Creek Rd. there are a few options for the return. If you take a left and head South up Oregon Cr. Rd. its a 1/2 mile to Pliocene Rd. and another right or east, on that road and you can ride the highway back to your car. I tried to ride Oregon Creek Rd. back to Forest and found that it had a locked gate up the creek a ways. I was told it was rideable but it didn't look that way. Another option is to ride Miller Ranch Rd. up the hill to connect to Forest. I haven't ridden that and it looks steep and sunny. One more option, that I haven't rode, is near the end of the PVD trail before you come to Oregon Cr Rd. you pass this dirt steep logging road. If you take a left on that, heading up the hill, you connect with a main dirt logging road that connects with the Pliocene Ridge Rd.
PVD is a very nice trail that drops through a forested canyon. For a long downhill start at the Big Tree Trailhead, riding the Ridge Runner to the Highgrade then down the Plum Valley Ditch trail. I'm guessing thats 1400 ft of downhill in 13 miles and lots of fun!

The Fish


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