Thunder, lightning, hail, snow, rain, wind. Spring has all of that, plus bright, blue-sky sunny days and mild temps in our area. All that adds up to great bike rides, except for the thunder and lightning bit.
The robust snowpack in the high country means hiking at elevations below about 7,500 to 8,000 feet. Cycling is in that boat also. Above those elevations there is snow, a lot of it.
There isn’t a really good count of how many miles of mountain bike trails we have in El Dorado County. Best guess is there may be too many to count. Someone should tally it all up and write a book about it. There’s also not a good count on how many miles of safe road bike riding we have.
Road bikes, the skinny tire type, are best suited for hard-packed dirt or paved roads. Safe simply means roads with enough shoulder space to ride away from the traffic lanes as much as possible. Some of our county roads have just enough space on the side of the road for the white fog line, and nothing more.
If you’re a cyclist, it’s time to take advantage of the fantastic June weather and start pedalling, especially if your favorite hike is still waist-deep in snow. There’s plenty to choose from for both fat-tire and skinny-tire riders.
We actually have some of the best mountain bike riding here. Some of the trails draw riders from all over the states and internationally, too. From very gentle to very technically challenging we have it all.
One of the more famous trails, which won’t be rideable any time soon, is Mr. Toads up in Tahoe. Right now it should be named Mr. Toads Very Snow Covered No-Ride Trail.
Local bike shops in Tahoe are sending mountain bike riders to the Corral Trail, Power Line Trail and Tahoe Mountain. They span quite a lot of territory and are currently free of snow. They are also good for just about anyone who is competent on a bike, travelling through some wonderful Tahoe forest scenery.
The Crystal Basin Recreation Area has many miles of trails for mountain bikes and good roads for the skinny-tire riders. Mountain bike rides up there are on USFS logging roads or marked trails. Some of those roads go on forever, taking quite a few twists and turns.
Road bike riders may enjoy the trek from Ice House to Wright’s Lake. Right now you can’t actually get to Wright’s, from Highway 50 or Ice House, but you can ride quite a ways. Traffic is light this time of year. The forest up in Crystal Basin is just simply stunning right now.
Sly Park Recreation Area in Pollock Pines has a mountain bike trail that circles the lake. There are some technical aspects to that trail. Goofing up at the wrong spot may land you in the lake.
Just across Mormon Emigrant Trail after the second dam is a series of well-known trails that wind around the forest and attract riders from all over. It’s called Fleming Meadows and is a great place to ride. Take a map though. A wrong turn can mean a long ride that you may not expect.
For a challenging road bike ride, Mormon Emigrant Trail/Iron Mountain Road will test your stamina and maybe make you think you’re crazy. At 23.72 miles one-way it’s longer, and in spots more difficult, than Blue Lakes over on Highway 88.
It’s a U.S. Forest Service road, and on their list, it’s Forest Route 5. How much time you have or want to spend in the saddle will determine where you park. No matter where that is, from start to finish, one-way or out-and-back, you’re on your own.
There are no services along the road. The road ends at Highway 88. There is a rest stop there, but that’s it. No water, food or latte carts along the way.
For a sweet, in-town ride, the El Dorado Trail, any part of it, is perfect. Nothing is too strenuous, the scenery is great and the paved trail provides a smooth ride. Snacks in town after your ride are mandatory.
Take advantage of what we have and — get outside!
By Charlie Ferris
To see the original article and photo in the Mt. Democrat newspaper, CLICK HERE