As spring winds to a close and the days start to warm up, the trails in the Sierra Foothills become less and less appealing. It is still a great time to ride, but the grass is getting longer and the thistle is creeping in.
It’s during one of these mid-late spring days where I rode Exchequer Mountain Bike Park. Exchequer is a a small, built for mountain bikes trail system at Barrets Cove on Lake McClure. The trails are maintained by a small but dedicated group of riders primarily from the Modesto area. There are about 12-15 miles of trails, with the signature trails being a couple of fast flowing downhill trails called Flying Squirrel and Down and Out.
The big appeal of this park is the trails are built by mountain bikers with mountain bikers in mind. You’ll find jumps, a rock garden, and all the trails have good flow from top to bottom. Finding your way around Exchequer is a snap, there is a single trail in and out of the park called Tarantula, which leads to the main climb into the park. You climb up the central double track and drop down the single track on either side of the trail.
The group I was riding with avoided the big jumps, but we definitely enjoyed the flowing single track on the return trip.
While the trails at Exchequer are well made and fun, they are short, and the high grasses and occasional thistle patches really detract from the experience. Worse, as the hot Sierra foothills summer dries the place out, the grasses will dry out and the now budding star thistle will take over.
Exchequer is one of those places which are fun to enjoy when you are local but not a place you travel toÂ specifically to ride the trails. Also, the prime time of year to ride here is quickly coming to a close.Â Due to the tall grass and hot, dry summers, winter or early spring are the best times to ride here.