Sunday, October 9
Stevens Trail, Colfax, CA
Corbin Dunn and Bevan Gerber-Siff on Stevens Trail, 2005
Sunday Schedule - Sunday Maps/Directions
Meeting at the trailhead, 10:00:
Not so early, but early enough for travelers to be on their way home at a reasonable hour. Take I-80 East to exit 135, North Canyon Way, Colfax. The intersection is a little odd there; don't take your first left (it'll put you back on the freeway). Go briefly straight, then left onto N. Canyon Way. This will take you along the side of the freeway for about 1/2 mile to the small trailhead parking lot.
This trail used to be a toll road, leading from the gold rush town of Colfax down to the river, where miners worked. It's an out-and-back ride that drops about 1200' down to the North Fork of the American River. It's about 4.5 miles each way, for a total of about 9. That makes for a good, healthy climb on the way back, whether riding or walking! Most people do some of both.
It's hard to believe the narrow trail of today used to be a toll road. Now it's a hiking trail that's too scary for most mountain bikers. It's quite fun for unicycles, but dangerous due to lots of narrow sections, with loads of exposure and long drops down into the canyon. toward the river. This is the place of cliffside retrievals. The highest cliffside retrieval I've ever seen with a unicycle was along this trail, at about 250-300'. That means the unicycle had to be retrieved after climbing down that far. Avoid this! Sometimes the unicycles get bent.
RIDE WITH CAUTION!
This trail demands respect, because it wants to knock you off the edge. Beware of rocky areas that only have a tiny amount of dirt along the cliff edge. With most of those, it's better to ride over the rocky part than to take some dirt so close to the edge. There are one or two spots that aren't quite rideable. Believe that. When in doubt, walk it!Also note that the shady areas of this trail will contain some poison oak. I got my worst-ever case of it there, when I fell right on one of the plants and ground it into my scraped elbow.
Near the bottom of the trail is a great swimmin' hole. Weather permitting, we'll stop there for anyone that wants to get wet. It's a fun spot where you can jump off the rocks into a deep spot in the river. Most of the river is too shallow for this, so look before you leap! If not swimming, you can have a snack, watch the swimmers, or get an early start on the ride up. You will also see an old mining tunnel at around the halfway point. Enter if you have a light! I think it's a lot less dangerous than the actual trail.
There is only one route until you reach a little creek crossing with a metal "TRAIL" sign just beyond it. Please wait there to regroup. The trail continues to the right from there. Then, just after the top of one of the few climbs on the way down, the singletrack pops off to the left. Don't miss that turn. Then it's singletrack all the way down, except for one split. We go to the right there, while the left side is for hikers only. You can optionally take the hiker's trail on the way back up, long as you hike it. It's shorter, but a lot steeper! Blackberries grow along this trail, and if in season, should be safe to eat. Not sure if they'll be ready when we're there.
After the ride:
Most of us will probably be heading home from Colfax. Those not in a hurry can join up for lunch. Though Colfax doesn't offer much, there are lots of choices back down in Auburn. If you're headed to the airport, allow at least an hour and a half for the drive to be safe. The freeway often backs up in Roseville on Sunday afternoons, but stick with it. Unless it's an accident, you should be through the usual slowdown faster than taking any shortcuts. Have a safe trip home, everyone!