I have been asked so many times, “Is this a trail I can do”? or “Is it really a beginner trail”?
This page will try to describe what makes which trail a beginner trail or advanced trail. I have made an informal rating as well as a short summary description. You’re welcome.
Although the climb is on a fire road, it is fairly long, and not for those who aren’t in pretty good shape. As for technical aspects, the trail is mostly smooth, with a couple of sections that the less experienced should walk.
This ride also has a long fire road climb, and a fairly steep downhill section, followed by a tricky creek crossing. The downhill is mostly smooth, nothing that can’t be ridden by the average rider.
A very steep initial climb, (one of the steeper ones at Whiskeytown) some very technical downhill sections make this ride for someone who is confident in their skills. With features like the “Trench of Terror”, it borders on Advanced.
Shasta Mine Trail
Beginner to Intermediate
Depending on the route, this can be a good beginner ride, or if you throw in “the climb”, it would be more geared for intermediate riders. This ride is part of the “Peltier Valley” rides, and when we have a beginner
ride in this area, it is mostly flat, some rocky sections, all very rideable for anyone comfortable in the dirt.
Rated so because of the climb. It is on a fire road, but during the summer it can be very hot, and it is a non stop steep climb for over two miles. The downhill is not technical, but does have several creek crossings. Very refreshing in the summer, but cold in the winter!
Flat, smooth, nothing technical, makes this probably the perfect ride for the beginner. There is one little hill, (probably 30 yards total) that is a very good gauge for your improvement. In the winter the trail is usually very wet, as it is an old water ditch trail, and does not drain well. In the summer this is a great ride as it is right next to the lake, and is mostly in the shade.
El Dorado Mine Trail
Another great trail for those new to the sport. This can be added on to Oak Bottom. This ride throws in a climb on switchbacks, (tough for any level rider) but is very do-able. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to ride the switchbacks till your more experienced.
Intermediate to Advanced
This area is all about the climbing. 7 Miles on the shorter course. The downhill is not super technical, mainly motorcycle-made single or double track. Depending on the route, this can be an all day ride!
Advanced Intermediate to Advanced
This ride is a beauty! The reason for the advanced rating is due to the cliffs on the side of the trail. It can be very technical, and should NOT be ridden alone. There are no major climbs, the trail just hugs the shore, but is very technical. If the dam is full of water, the trail can not be accessed.
Mary Lake Area
Intermediate on up
This is a great new area, hopefully it will stay around, the subdivision is growing and threatening the area. This is an intermediate ride because of the climbing. The trails are wide, and all very rideable, nothing too technical, but you do have to climb. This is a great winter ride area, even for night rides. The view from the top at night can’t be beat!
A great place to get your “legs”. This trail system is mostly flat, and all paved. There are a couple of single track dirt trails that lead off the pavement, good place to explore, with a friend. Watch out for other trail users.
Beginner to Advanced Intermediate
This is mainly an easy trail, it does have a couple of good climbs, and features the dreaded “switchbacks”. For the real beginner, it can be rode as an out an back from the boat ramp to the campground. For the hardened rider, it can be a “recovery” ride, or at race pace, or at night for even more challenges. Look for the new addition that RMB is working on now. The trail does feature some “rock garden” areas that the beginning rider should use caution on.
Although this is mainly downhill, it is very technical, and should not be attempted by beginners. There are cliffs, drop offs, rocks, and loose dirt that thrown in with the fact that you are fatigued from the ride, can cause you to let your guard down. But…it’s a BLAST!
Again, special thanks to Max Walter for all his work on his book dedicated to our trails in this area. Max also does a lot of volunteer trail clean ups, and has given a lot to this sport. Check out his book, North State Singletrack!
Another quick trail finding reference:
Beginner Trails: Oak Bottom, El Dorado Mine Trail, Sacramento River Trail, Keswick Dam River Trail, Clikapudi, Mule Mountain
Intermediate Trails: The Chimney, Shasta Mine Trail, Clikapudi, French Gulch, Mary Lake, Mule Mountain
Advanced Intermediate and up: Recliner, Couch, Shasta Mine, Boulder Creek, Dry Creek, French Gulch
Easiest: River Trails
Best all around: Clikapudi
Hardest climb: French Gulch, Boulder Creek
Most scenic: Chimney
Best cardio workout and fitness gauge: Southfork! This is a 7 mile climb, starts on the dirt road across 299 from the Visitor Center at Whiskeytown. It is all dirt road and is perfect for those who want to just get out and get in shape. Try getting to the first lookout without stopping, then try to get to the top, then try to go all the way without stopping, then try using your middle chain ring up front, etc. The view from the top is great, and this is a good night ride as well!