Once the snow melts in the Sierras, the sleepy Gold Rush town of Downieville transforms into a mountain bike mecca with world-class downhill and cross-country trails. Downieville has become synonymous with seemingly endless singletrack trails running through heavily forested ridgelines, canyons, and crystal clear mountain streams and rivers.
With the steep and rocky terrain surrounding the Downieville area, none of the singletrack trails are beginner trails. However, there are multiple dirt roads in the County for those who lack the technical skills for the singletrack trail system. All trails are multi-use and maintained by local bike shops through volunteer trail work. Remember bike etiquette and yield to other users.
The 14 mile, 4000' descent of the world-famous Downieville Downhill starts at Packer Saddle with Sunrise Trail linking up with Butcher Ranch Trail, a 150-year-old mining trail set on steep single track terrain with rock gardens and smooth sections of lush trail. Then the decision is whether to take Third Divide, a super-fast, smooth section of singletrack through the forest, or Second Divide with its steep, rolling singletrack along Pauley Creek. Next is Upper First Divide, an old mining flume following Lavezzola Creek, which links to Lower First Divide Trail following Pauley Creek and dropping into Downieville. Pauley Creek, Big Boulder, and Lavezzola Creek Trails are alternate singletrack trails, which can be ridden from Packer Saddle. Traversing and extra pedaling pays off with fast, narrow trails and numerous rock gardens.
North Yuba and North Yuba Connector Trails flow downriver for 14 miles and can be ridden in either direction from Downieville or from Indian Valley. The cross-country singletrack trails challenge with equal climbs and descents. Halls Ranch and Fiddle Creek Trail run adjacent to the North Yuba Trail and offer heart-pounding climbs, beautiful ridge top scenery, and ripping descents. Bring your expert legs and lungs.
Chimney Rock, one of the most scenic trails in the area, reaches 7200' and can be shuttled or pedal from Downieville. From the top of Chimney Rock, Empire Creek Trail, Rattlesnake Creek Trail or Herkimer Mine Trail, plunge you 4000' back to town.
The historic mining town of Forest City sits upon the Pliocene Ridge and offers a network of singletrack, cross-country trails that are mainly rideable from Forest City.
The Downieville Classic
is a multi-day mountain bike race and festival, which this years take place in August. There is a cross-country race that starts in Sierra City, traveling over the Sierra Buttes, and down the trails into Downieville, and the following day is a downhill race on the famous Downieville Downhill. Lots of activities take place during the festival, including a River jump competition, live music and bike expo and street fair.
Downieville’s two bike shops, Yuba Expeditions
and Downieville Outfitters
offer shuttle service to Packer Saddle and rental bikes. Downieville Outfitters also offers guided rides.
For great road riding, the Sierra Valley offers unsurpassed beauty and never-ending stretches of beautiful meadows, wetlands with uncountable numbers of bird species, free-range cattle and ranches that have been active since the Gold Rush. The annual Sierra Valley Metric Century, the Tour de Manur
e, starts and ends in Sierraville. This ride is a benefit for Sierraville Fire & Rescue.