Outside with Charlie: Winter alternative

By March 8, 2011


Winter is nearly over. The vernal equinox, spring, arrives March 20 about 4:21 p.m. Day and night are approximately 12 hours long and the sun is at the midpoint of the sky. The north pole tilts toward the sun.

From many years of watching spring arrive in Pollock Pines, I plan to keep my winter gear out. Spring doesn’t always mean warm where I live.

The snow pack is very healthy and more storms are on the way. It’s been an exciting season for cross country and downhill skiers, and snowshoe enthusiasts. As I write there is a lot of snow in my yard — time for more coffee and bagels.

What do you do if you aren’t interested in snow sports or have run out of money for lift tickets? The answer is simple — there’s much to do within a few minutes to an hour away, depending on where you live in El Dorado County.

There’s a very nice bike trail in Placerville. There’s a short section of the El Dorado Trail between Forni and Missouri Flat roads, including a scenic crossing over Weber Creek on the trestle bridge. This part of the trail is approximately 2.5 miles one way and good for all levels of riders and walkers.

An older section begins next to the Ivy House parking lot in Placerville across the street from the Cozmic Café. This part of the trail takes you east all the way to Highway 50 if you are on a mountain bike. The trail ends at a fence bordering the highway across from Mt. Mikes Pizza on Carson Road.

The trail isn’t paved all the way, hence the need for a mountain bike. You run out of pavement and into dirt a few miles up the trail. It’s uphill all the way to the end — not terribly steep, but uphill. It is suitable for all levels of riders and walkers but more challenging.

If you are on a road bike the ride can be extended a few different ways, one of which I won’t mention as it requires crossing the highway which is not safe. The other is to ride to the end of the pavement — it takes me about 45 minutes —turn around and ride back to Jaquier Road.

Turn right on Jaquier and ride to Carson Road. From here, if you turn right again, you’ll be headed toward Apple Hill where you can do some exploring and just enjoy the ride. If you know the roads in Apple Hill this can be a pretty nice way to spend your riding day.

Apple Hill has some pretty decent climbs throughout and can be a challenge if you are new to cycling or just getting back into it. Remember you can always get off and walk if it gets too strenuous. The traffic is pretty light unless it’s apple time or Christmas tree time. You’ll want to ride elsewhere during those times, especially on the weekends. You, your bike and a few thousand cars are not a good mix.

The entire system is a multi-use trail. You may encounter road and mountain bikes, hikers, runners, walkers, dogs, cats, horses, raccoons, skunks, wild turkeys, squirrels and lizards.

Trail etiquette is important. Everyone yields to horses — they’re the biggest animals on the trail. Pressing your luck with a horse could result in a bad day for everyone. People on foot yield to cyclists and horses. Walkers should walk on the left facing oncoming trail users, riders should be on the right. Dogs should be leashed.

Everyone should simply be polite. When in doubt, yield. It doesn’t cost anything to be polite.


Charlie Ferris

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