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Pauley Creek Trail

Trail Comments: Pauley Trail is one of my favorite descents in the Downieville area. This ride give you many possibilities when combined with the other trails. I generally ride the Pauley Creek Trail to Butcher Ranch Trail, then the Second Divide Trail and then Lavazzola Road or the First Divide Trail to Downieville. So this is the route I will describe. The Starting spot is on top the mountain and from there you ride dirt roads to rougher and steeper 4WHL roads to access the singletrack trail. The singletrack drops you into the creek canyon and you ride through old growth forest with footbridge creek crossings ending up in Downieville. Of course parts of these trails are in a very primitive areas and there are no roads for a rescue... so be prepared and safe. These are OHV trails too so there are motorcycles, and the trails tend to get rather chewed up and dusty in the late summer.

This is one of the "Downieville Downhills" although Butcher Ranch and the Third Divide is the true "Downieville Downhill". You will want to ride them both so consider spending a few days camping while you do. See my Comments on Downieville for more info on the area. The trails are well ridden and they are signed so it is hard to get lost. Check out the printing tips before you print this map.

Access: From Downieville take Hwy 49 north pass Sierra City to Bassetts Station. Take a left on Gold Lake Hwy. After 1.4 miles take a left on Salmon Lake Rd. Thenin 3 miles turn right on Packer Lake Rd. After 2.5 miles the road splits, keep to the left on Packer Saddle Road {USFS 93}. The next 2 miles are steep and narrow. After Packer Saddle the road veers to the right and you crest the ridge. After the road flattens out you will see a parking and a shuttle drop spot on the left at the road intersection. Start there... If you camped up by Gold Lake you might want to ride over the hill to the trail. This is not an easy access though because of the rough and steep roads over the ridge.

On The Trail: From the parking area you will take the paved road {USFS 93} across from the start spot{west}. Ride down this paved road and at the first intersection {1/10 mile} you will take a right. The pavement ends and you pass the Butcher Ranch Trailhead on the left. Continue on this Gold Valley Road {93-3} about 3 miles. You pass a two lefts as you ride this section of good fast dirt road. There are great views of the canyons and the Sierra Buttes and the surrounding mountains on this easy rolling section of road. {I also like to ride USFS 93-31 to Gold Valley Road.}

After 3-4 miles you will come upon a main left. Take a left here. {If you continue straight instead, you would notice because this road is the steep uphill grade over to Gold Lake.} You will also notice that there are trail signs for Gold Valley and Pauley Creek posted high in the trees after you make the left turn. From here its a rocky descent on a 4WD road. After a mile you keep to the right at the first intersection. {There is a gold mine to the left.}The next mile is a steep descent, with a small creek crossing and "baby head rocks", on the descent. Look for a left where the road flattens out. {If you ride past this left turn you will notice a small group of Aspen trees on the right and if you continue the road will start climbing.}You are about 6 miles into the ride. On the map I show the Pauley Trail in orange starting here even though its still a two track at this point.

The left takes you west on the double track, crossing a small creek and then a much bigger Pauley Creek. I usually am able to ride across the creek although my shoes usually get wet because it's a foot deep. {During spring snow melt the creek could be to high to cross.} After the creek crossing you will pass a road on the right going to Smith Lakes and Big Boulder. And .7 mile past the creek crossing is the beginning of the singletrack section.

This is the steepest section of the trail and after a bit you will drop down to a foot bridge crossing of the Pauley Creek After crossing that there is a wet section of trail as you ride on a beautiful forested trail following Pauley Creek down.. This is my favorite section of this ride... You will cross another bridge where Butcher and Pauley Creeks come together and a 100 ft. after that bridge you come to the intersection of Pauley and Butcher Ranch Trails {picture}. Keep to the right here and continue descending on Butcher Ranch Trail. After a bit you pass a miners cabin on the right and do a little climb around a corner and then continue descending. There are three switchbacks as you drop down to the next bridge that crosses Pauley Creek. There is 160ft jump as you climb up the Pauley Canyon before you come to a split in the trail.

This is the intersection of the Second and Third Divide Trails{picture}. If you feel you have had enough and are tired or hurt you will definitely want to take the Third Divide. The Third Divide is a fast 3 miles and after the 100 ft climb over the ridge it is all downhill. If you are feeling strong and want some technical, rolling type trail, with exposed cliff edges take the Second Divide. This trail is more demanding and is 5 miles long. My favorite is the Second Divide, I like the fact it is 2 miles longer, it follows the creek, and the trail has huge trees.

Anyway if you take the left on the Second Divide it drops down following Pauley Creek through some very large Fir and Pine trees. After passing a cabin on the left you find yourself on a flatter section of the trail. This is a old water flume for mining. The trail continues with some quick shot uphill sections although it is mostly downhill. There are some exposed cliff edges that you may want to walk. After 5 miles the trail ends at Lavazzola Rd. Check out the First Divide map for a more in depth view of the rest of the ride to Downieville.

If you are looking for more ridding, then you will want to take a right on Lavazzola dirt road and drop down to the bridge and take a left on to the First Divide Trail.
If you just want to get back to town take a left on Lavezzola Road. {You can still ride the second part of the First Divide Trail which is right before the next bridge and on the left.} If you are confused then just take a left on Lavazzola Road, and this will take you all the way to Downieville. Don't forget to stop at the stop signs and ride slow through town, cause its a small town and that's all they ask.

The Fish

Trail Pictures 1
Trail Pictures 2
Trail Pictures 3

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