Archived Stories

Learn to ride again

By August 15, 2010

Special to the Democrat

You finally did it. You dug out the old bike and rehabilitated it, or you bought a new one at a local bike shop Ñ one thatÕs much better than the old one in the garage.

You’re back into the world of staying healthy. Now what? Where do you ride? El Dorado County has plenty of great places to ride both mountain bikes and road bikes, whether you are a beginner or very experienced.

Some of the best sources for information are other riders and local bike shops. And as you venture out on the roads in your community youÕll find rides you love that are right for your skill level.

Here are some of the favorite rides of a few mountain and road bike enthusiasts in our bike friendly county.

Bob, the owner of Placerville Bike Shop, ( for 31 years, likes Cronan Ranch, a property acquired by the American River Conservancy. It is about five miles from Coloma on Highway 49 and is very good mountain bike territory. You can park on Pedro Hill Road.

Bob likes the ride for its many side trails, packed dirt riding surfaces, no cars and great views as it runs down to the American River. It isnÕt very technical and is suitable for beginning, as well as intermediate riders. ItÕs a great place for a family ride.

BobÕs son Andrew rides his road bike in the Apple Hill area. He likes to start at AbelÕs Acres on Hassler Road and ride to North Canyon, Larsen and Cable roads, stopping at LarsenÕs Apple Barn for a water break and a bit of a rest on the lawn. The Apple Hill area is not the best place for new riders, as the hills can be a bit much for new or just returning cyclists.

Jim, owner of the Golden Spoke (,) for 30 years, likes the Flemming Meadow area in Pollock Pines. This is mountain bike territory; the terrain is suitable for beginners and more experienced riders as well.

The hard-packed dirt trails wind through the forest and Jim can take his dogs. The Flemming Meadow trailhead is off Iron Mountain Road, about a mile or so past Sly Park Lake.

Rufus, of Golden Spoke, likes the Placerville bike trail, which follows the old railroad bed that ran from the mill in Camino to Sacramento. It is part of the Trails to Rails effort. The trail is uphill all the way to the end on the south side of Highway 50 by Carson Road.

Beginners who take their time can do the uphill and itÕs all downhill on the way back. Bikers can access the trail from the Ivy House parking lot on Main Street, or from the bus station parking lot on Mosquito Road.

Another newer portion of the trail that takes you over the old railroad trestle bridge starts on Missouri Flat Road. The trailhead is on the south side of the shopping center across from Wal Mart. It is a little over five miles round trip to Forni Road and back Ñ all on a paved trail with some gentle inclines.

My bike nut friend Ed likes to start on the bike trail in Placerville and head up to Apple Hill on his road bike. His ride encompasses Hassler, Mace, Cable, North Canyon, Pony Express Trail, Crystal Springs and back into Placerville by way of Carson Road.

It is not a good beginnerÕs route, but it is a good way to expand your skills. Remember the Apple Hill area will be jammed with cars from now until Christmas. Annie likes to pedal anywhere in Apple Hill on her road bike, saying the scenery is worth the few stiff uphills.

Mike, an off-road, through-the-woods rider, likes the Sly Park Lake trail, which can be pretty technical, meaning it requires a good deal of skill. Beginners are encouraged to take their time and perhaps go with an experienced rider the first couple of times.

I like to peddle around Pollock Pines. I start at my house and head for Bullion Bend, or drop down Forebay Road and turn onto Blair. Then I either continue to Pony Express Trail over to Ridgeway and back up to Bullion Bend, or I take the path by the El Dorado Irrigation ditch where it crosses Blair Road, back to Forebay and back to Bullion Bend.

Gold Ridge Forest is also a good place to ride but it does have some steep uphills. You can always get off and walk. Someday youÕll be able to ride the whole thing Ñ it just takes time.

A very nice paved trail runs along Emerald Bay Road (Highway 89) at Lake Tahoe. The trail from Andersons Bike Rentals travels past Pope Beach, Camp Richardson, the Visitors Center, and Baldwin Beach, up to an intersection with Highway 89 and the Spring Creek Tract. This is an excellent out and back beginnersÕ trail, beautiful and family friendly. There are numerous mountain bike trails off Pioneer Trail, and throughout the basin.

You can find rides of all levels on the Internet. A good place to look for rides all over El Dorado County is WhatÕs important to remember about riding in our county is that nothing is flat for very long. Probably the best place for new or returning riders to start building riding skills is the El Dorado Trail.

It is mostly paved and there are several good places to ride to and turn around and head back. The scenery is wonderful and the terrain isn’t too taxing. You can stop and head back to Main Street or Missouri Flat Road at any time. Before long, you’ll be able to make the entire trip. You’ll need a mountain bike if you plan to ride the entire upper trail as the last part is unpaved. Road bikes donÕt like the rough stuff. ThatÕs an enjoyable ride no matter how many times you do it.

There are many other places to ride in our beautiful area. Explore, talk to other riders, visit our local bike shops, but above all, ride. You never know what wonderful adventures are just around the next bend.

Charlie Ferris

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