Highway 108 and Highway 4 Mountain Biking

This post introduces two spectacular mountain bike loops on national forest land.  It also catalogs a few other great rides near Highway 4.

09/05/2009 Riding Near Utica Reservoir (short route) – 5 miles, 375′ of climbing

This is a short ride that is easily accessed from the Sandy Flat Campground at Utica Reservoir.  There are other campgrounds near the reservoir such as Rocky Point Campground, Union West Campground, and Union East Campground.  All of these were fairly quiet in September, but they would probably be busy during high season.  This route takes you through some technically challenging terrain, and is pretty fun, in spite of its short length.  It’s a good route to do if you arrive in the afternoon and don’t have time for a full ride.

There are some challenging sections on this ride to keep you interested.

There are some challenging sections on this ride to keep you interested.

You will have great views of Utica reservoir

You will have great views of Utica reservoir

The trail can be loose and rocky in sections.

The trail can be loose and rocky in sections.

09/06/2009 Utica-Union-Lake Alpine MTB loop  – 19miles, 2,100′ of climbing

This is a 19 mile loop that is mostly single track.  The part that is fire road still keeps your interest because it is very technical fire road. The riding is good quality, and challenging.  A good place to start is the Sandy Flat Campground at Utica Reservoir, but you could also start at Lake Alpine on HWY 4 as well.

Mountain Bike Trail - either way

Mountain Bike Trail – either way

There are some fun log drops along the way

There are some fun log drops along the way

There are some interesting rock climbing challenges.

There are some interesting rock climbing challenges.

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There are some technical options on the trail that is on the South Side of Lake Alpine.

There are some technical options on the trail that is on the South Side of Lake Alpine.

Some Rocky loose descents heading from Lake Alpine to Utica Reservoir.

Some Rocky loose descents heading from Lake Alpine to Utica Reservoir.

Some Rocky loose descents heading from Lake Alpine to Utica Reservoir.

Some Rocky loose descents heading from Lake Alpine to Utica Reservoir.

09/09/2009 Lake Alpine Bee Gulch Trail Figure 8 – 14 miles; 2500′ of climbing.

This route includes a pretty good mountain bike trail: the Bee Gulch Trail.  The Bee Gulch trail is good, but it is short.  Plus, the climb to reach it is challenging.  For us, we felt the ride was going to be too short, so we added on some trails on the West side of Lake Alpine first.  We started from the Lake Alpine Campground and did some of the nearby trails first – but you could head straight up and do the Bee Gulch Trail first.  See our map/GPS track at the link above.

Janet ascending Forest Route 7N93

Janet ascending Forest Route 7N93

Getting ready to descend the single track

Getting ready to descend the single track

Climbing 7N93

Climbing 7N93

After climbing Forest Route 7N93 (off Mount Reba Road).  Overlooking Horse Canyon

After climbing Forest Route 7N93 (off Mount Reba Road). Overlooking Horse Canyon

Janet on the Bee Gulch Trail.

Janet on the Bee Gulch Trail.

Descending the Bee Gulch Trail - it's short - but sweet!

Descending the Bee Gulch Trail – it’s short – but sweet!

09/11/2009 Eagle Meadow MTB Loop – Eagle Creek Trail 21 miles; 2,700′ climbing <- Top Quality Route!

This is a near perfect loop! We started from the Brightman Flat campground (which is a nice campsite).  From here, we headed “down” Highway 108 towards Donnell Lake (even though you’re heading back towards the valley, it’s a climb, which is why I put “down” in quotes)  You turn off on Forest Route 6N24, and in about 1/4 mile you make a right on Forest Route 5N04.  In another 1/2 mile, you turn right on Forest Route 5N01.  Keep climbing this until it drops down to Eagle Meadows – a good place to take a break before you get to enjoy a fantastic single track descent to your camp.  The route is challenging, but very fun; definitely not as difficult as the next route.

Eagle Creek Trail log overs

Eagle Creek Trail log overs

The beginning of the Eagle Creek trail is fairly easy.

The beginning of the Eagle Creek trail is fairly easy.

Eagle Creek Trail Beauty!

Eagle Creek Trail Beauty!

Horses and Mountain Bikes

Eagle Creek Trail getting a little rocky

Eagle Creek Trail getting a little rocky

Eagle Creek Trail getting a little rocky

Eagle Creek Trail getting a little rocky

Eagle Creek Trail Fun!

Eagle Creek Trail Fun!

Eagle Creek Trail getting a little rocky!

Eagle Creek Trail getting a little rocky!

09/12/2009 Pinecrest Peak Trail MTB Loop <- Top Quality Route!

If you liked the Eagle Creek Route above, you will probably love the Pinecrest Peak Trail loop (PCP).  Be warned, though, that the lower portion is very technical.  I found that my Bullet was a superior bike for this trail when compared to the cross-country blur.  One thing about this route that is *VERY IMPORTANT* – Please do not race down this trail.  Also, please be extremely courteous with anyone you meet: hikers, horses.  As you are descending this trail, you are the lowest priority in terms of right-of-way.  In other words, that means you politely yield to everyone.  Please, please follow this courtesy so that this trail can remain open to be enjoyed by others.  It is a fantastic route, and we need to work together to keep it that way.

At the top of the Pinecrest Peak Trail. Get ready for an amazing, technical descent!

At the top of the Pinecrest Peak Trail, shortly after passing Herring Creek. Get ready for an amazing, technical descent!  We observed youths target shooting across the fire road here. You will probably hear the noise before you cross their path, but please be careful

Pinecrest Peak Trail

Pinecrest Peak Trail

Some awesome riding on PCP

Some awesome riding on PCP

Janet on PCP trail.

Janet on PCP trail.

Pincrest Peak Trail

Pincrest Peak Trail

PCP

PCP

Some bench dropping in camp

Some bench dropping in camp

 

 

Other smaller, less interesting routes:

09/07/2009 Bear Lake Trails –

This Route encompasses the legal bike riding trails near the Bear Mountain ski resort.  None of them were that spectacular for mountain bike riding; mostly fire roads, with a few single tracks near the top.

09/08/2009 Running around Lake Alpine HWY 4 – 8 miles, 800′ of climbing

On a September morning, running on HWY 4 is not a problem.  I ran up the highway, and then back on good quality trails.  The link above takes you to the route map.

09/13/2009 Run Around Pinecrest Lake –

Some nice views up on Sonora Pass.

Some nice views up on Sonora Pass.

Some nice views up near the top of Hwy 108

Some nice views up near the top of Hwy 108

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