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  1. #1
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    Nevada City to Downieville

    Were thinking of heading from Sacramento to Downieville for a short tour. We have a route figured out from Sac to Nevada City. But we are not sure if hwy 49 past Nevada City is bike friendly at all. I've searched and not found much info. I've heard of the Kreb's map of the gold country but we are planning on leaving in a couple of days so no time to order it. Anyone have experience with this ride? Thanks

  2. #2
    Hooked on Touring
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    Here is the Caltrans Traffic Count webpage -

    http://traffic-counts.dot.ca.gov/2006all.htm

    Hwy 49 has fairly heavy traffic for about 10 miles north of Nevada City, then it drops dramatically. Hwy 49 in the Yuba Canyon has very low traffic and moderate speeds, but the road is narrow with curves.

    Why is it that California - with all of its wealth and population - has shoulders on very few of its state highways - and Wyoming - with 1/73rd of Calif population - does have shoulders on most of its highways?

  3. #3
    weirdo
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    I didn`t end up riding it, but I love the drive so I researched it as part of a loop. After doing an in-car recon of the route I decided against it due to lack of shoulder and very limited sight distance. Because there are a lot of steep grades in each direction, a lot of those curves would be in slow speed climb mode no matter which direction I looped. In my case, I just turned my loop into an out and back, so it was a disappointment but not a complete abandonment of the trip. Since I don`t know of any reasonable options of getting to your destination, maybe you`ll just have to grit your teeth and go for it. It IS a pretty canyon. Crazyguy has a few (two, I think) journals that include your stretch. Have you asked on the Norcal subforum?

    Sorry for the comedy, B+M. I just looked at Norcal and saw the suggestion to post here : 0 Anyway, now I`m off to check out that other road that was mentioned.
    Last edited by rodar y rodar; 05-20-09 at 05:34 PM.

  4. #4
    eternalvoyage
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    Have been on tour, and missed this thread until now. Yes, there are some good alternatives to 49. One of them is Lake Vera-Purdon Road. If you go to maps.google.com, you can find it. It has very little traffic. Only during commute hours, and on afternoons on summer weekends and holidays, there is a bit more traffic; but even then it is much lighter than Hwy 49.

    It is also much safer. Most of the time it is so quiet, with so few cars, that it is basically like a bike path (or even better -- a very quiet bike path). There is a stretch of gravel for less than a mile on the south side of the river, and for less than two miles on the north side of the river. There are some great swimming holes upstream from the bridge, and it's easy to ride a bike along the trail upstream to several of them.

    It is a good idea to check your rims once in a while for overheating, during the ride down into the Yuba River Canyon.

    It is a very nice, scenic ride from the top of the grade on the north side, down to Tyler Foote Road. Across Tyler Foote Road is a hippy market called 'MotherTruckers', which has a lot of good drinks, snacks, organic produce, etc.

    To continue to Downieville, just take Oak Tree Road from Mother Truckers to the town of North San Juan (where there is a cafe and couple of small markets of a more non-organic character), which is approx. three miles. From there it is a short ride, all downhill, to the bridge over the next fork of the Yuba River (the Middle Fork). There is a huge swimming hole that you can see by looking under and just upstream from the bridge. You can ride to the beaches on both sides of the old wooden bridge.

    The ride to Downieville on 49 isn't bad. (It's much safer and more pleasant than the ride on Hwy 49 from Nevada City to NSJ.)

    An alternative (to taking Hwy 49 from the Middle Yuba to Downieville) is to take the turnoff toward Pike, and ride up Pliocene Ridge Road (which is great riding after the initial steep grade, before Pike, which is reasonably short -- it is called Allegheny Road in this section, near Celestial Valley, just off Hwy 49; then it turns into Ridge Road, or Pliocene Ridge Road, and then Henness Pass Road). You can ride all the way over Henness Pass this way (though it turns to gravel somewhere near the turnoff to Allegheny), or you can take a trail from Forest City out toward Hwy 49 (and Downieville, Sierra City, the Buttes, Lakes Basin, and Sierra Valley).
    Last edited by Niles H.; 05-23-09 at 12:45 PM.

  5. #5
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    thanks! our trip was actually planned for this last weekend but we backed out. Mainly because we weren't sure of the route. That route sounds good, we are going to have to reschedule.

  6. #6
    weirdo
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    B + M, this is a bit off topic, but if you`re looking for a way to get out of the valley and North into the Sierra, there are some nice options out of Oroville. I just did an out and back down 70 through Quincy and down to Pulga- it was a lot of fun riding all those bridges. Also, there`s the Laporte road and the road that runs up from Oroville to Antelpoe Lake and Quincy. Both are paved, but I called Plumas County public works and they said they were still snowed in this year. Or going the other way, Forrest Hill Divide Rd from Auburn Ravine and a bunch I don`t know personally but have seen on the map that parallel I-80 on the other side.

  7. #7
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by B + M View Post
    thanks! our trip was actually planned for this last weekend but we backed out. Mainly because we weren't sure of the route. That route sounds good, we are going to have to reschedule.
    Hope the information is useful -- it's easy to get onto Lake Vera-Purdon Road from Nevada City. If you end up in downtown Nevada City (which is only a few blocks long), the main street is Broad Street. If you continue uphill out of town, on Broad Street, you will hit Hwy 49. It is best to take the right fork, where Broad Street forks into East Broad and West Broad (just above the Broad Street Cafe, as you are leaving the business district and entering the residential part of town). The right fork has less traffic; and it goes more directly to where you want to be, in order to get onto Lake Vera-Purdon Road.

    Where East Broad (the right fork of Broad Street) hits 49, just ride straight across 49 and continue up North Bloomfield Road. After a short climb, you come to an intersection. If you were to go right at this intersection, it would take you to North Bloomfield and Edwards Crossing (there is a sign across the intersection). You want to go left instead, to Purdon Crossing.

    Then it's simple -- just stay on the main road all the way across the river.

    Don't get too carried away, though, hotdogging down the hills near Camp Augusta (there is a sign on the right). It can be a lot of fun -- the road is like a roller coaster through there. But there is sometimes sand in the road, and on some fairly sharp turns, right where you will be going very fast. The sand is especially good at collecting in the middle of the lane.

    It should be fine if you are reasonably alert to it, and slow down just a bit, and stay out of the middle of the lane.

    It's a very beautiful area, and this route is actually a few miles shorter than 49.

    *******

    In case you might be interested at some point in another possibility, with some added scenery and riding in the high country -- instead of continuing into North San Juan on Oak Tree Road -- there is this: Once you get to the stop sign where Purdon Road hits Tyler Foote (across from Mother Truckers), if you turn right on Tyler Foote Road (aka Tyler Foote Crossing Road, or Tyler Foote Xing Road), you can continue on up, all the way past the turnoff to Malakoff Diggins, to the crest of the Sierras simply by continuing straight on that same road (Tyler Foote Road, which turns into Cruzon Grade Road and then Graniteville Road and then Meadow Lake Road -- just stay on the main road headed out to Bowman Lake).

    If you look at a map, you will see a set of lakes. The road takes you to Bowman and Jackson Meadows Lakes, but there are many other beautiful lakes in the same area, and some great hiking trails connecting the lakes. The road turns to gravel above North Columbia, and on up to Bowman and Jackson Meadows. Then it turns back to pavement after Jackson Meadows, and you can ride out to Hwy 89.

    From there, you can turn right to Lake Tahoe.

    Or you can go left to Sierra Valley.

    From Sierra Valley, you have various choices, including riding up Hwy 49 (which is good riding in this area), over Yuba Pass, and on down to Sierra City and Downieville.

    It's not the most direct route to Downieville, but it is a very scenic one -- and it can make for a great tour.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 05-26-09 at 02:45 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post

    Why is it that California - with all of its wealth and population - has shoulders on very few of its state highways - and Wyoming - with 1/73rd of Calif population - does have shoulders on most of its highways?
    Wyoming takes in huge amounts of taxes from mining and natural resource development; much of this goes toward infrastructure.

  9. #9
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    I grew up in Quincy, and I'm familiar with hwy 70 and the oroville/quincy hwy( I actually mountain biked from bucks lake to oroville about 20 years ago, when parts of the road were unpaved) I would like to do either of the rides someday.



    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    B + M, this is a bit off topic, but if you`re looking for a way to get out of the valley and North into the Sierra, there are some nice options out of Oroville. I just did an out and back down 70 through Quincy and down to Pulga- it was a lot of fun riding all those bridges. Also, there`s the Laporte road and the road that runs up from Oroville to Antelpoe Lake and Quincy. Both are paved, but I called Plumas County public works and they said they were still snowed in this year. Or going the other way, Forrest Hill Divide Rd from Auburn Ravine and a bunch I don`t know personally but have seen on the map that parallel I-80 on the other side.

  10. #10
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    Niles H. Thanks for the route suggestions, they sound great I will being heading up there at some point this summer.

  11. #11
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    In case you might be interested at some point in another possibility, with some added scenery and riding in the high country -- instead of continuing into North San Juan on Oak Tree Road -- there is this: Once you get to the stop sign where Purdon Road hits Tyler Foote (across from Mother Truckers), if you turn right on Tyler Foote Road (aka Tyler Foote Crossing Road, or Tyler Foote Xing Road), you can continue on up, all the way past the turnoff to Malakoff Diggins, to the crest of the Sierras simply by continuing straight on that same road (Tyler Foote Road, which turns into Cruzon Grade Road and then Graniteville Road and then Meadow Lake Road -- just stay on the main road headed out to Bowman Lake).

    If you look at a map, you will see a set of lakes. The road takes you to Bowman and Jackson Meadows Lakes, but there are many other beautiful lakes in the same area, and some great hiking trails connecting the lakes. The road turns to gravel above North Columbia, and on up to Bowman and Jackson Meadows. Then it turns back to pavement after Jackson Meadows, and you can ride out to Hwy 89.
    Niles, this route is more or less the Henness Pass wagon road, isn`t it? If so, I`ve been eye-balling the top part of it one for a possible ride in the Fall. How much of it is paved? Is it all fairly good road, meaning none of it Jeep trails, super washboardy, or deep sand?

  12. #12
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Niles, this route is more or less the Henness Pass wagon road, isn`t it? If so, I`ve been eye-balling the top part of it one for a possible ride in the Fall. How much of it is paved? Is it all fairly good road, meaning none of it Jeep trails, super washboardy, or deep sand?
    The old wagon route is a bit different, though there is some overlap in places. The paved road between Hwy 89 and Jackson Meadows is actually a bypass that more or less parallels the old Henness Pass route.

    I didn't mean to suggest that this route is easy. There is a lot of dirt and gravel. Sometimes there is thick dust, especially later in the summer. I've seen sections of washboard at times. The other route (Oak Tree Road to North San Juan to Hwy 49 to Downieville) is paved, and is also -- like the Jackson Meadows route -- very scenic.

    This other (Jackson Meadows) route is more like the adventure route -- or it could be made into a loop (up Tyler Foote to Jackson Meadows to Hwy 89 to Sierra Valley to Hwy 49 to Yuba Pass to Sierra City and Downieville, and back to North San Juan), for those who want a longer, more varied ride.

    It is not the smooth route or the fast route, just a quite varied and interesting route.

    Hwy 49 from North San Juan to the Middle Fork of the Yuba to Downieville to Sierra City and the Gold Lake area, and on up and over Yuba Pass and into Sierra Valley is one of the very best rides around. Not much traffic (except on summer weekends and holidays -- and even then it isn't horrible, although it is many times more busy than it is at other times), beautiful and varied Sierra scenery (don't miss the lakes around Sierra Buttes if you ride this area), a ride out into a Nevada-like valley on the east side of the Sierras (Sierra Valley), good elevations, rivers....

    There is also the possibility of riding a trail from Downieville to Goodyears Bar and on to Indian Valley (or the other way around -- from Indian Valley up to Downieville). The trail is open to bikes, and it runs along the opposite side (opposite to 49) of the North Yuba River, which a beautiful river to be riding along.

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