Foresthill Divide is one of many trails in the Auburn State Recreation Area. This is an excellent trail created with mountain bikers in mind by FATRAC. It is not extremely technical, but it does feature a few technical sections and many fast singletrack downhills. Downhillers and rock hopping junkies will find this trail boring. Riders who enjoy fast rolling singletrack will find this place is a blast.
The few times I've been on this trail I've seen a moderate amount of traffic, usually about 5-10 other riders, hikers, etc. Most people start this trail from the Auburn side and ride counter clockwise so most traffic is going the same direction.
You must cross Foresthill Road twice which is potentially dangerous.
Take hiway 80 to Auburn, CA and turn off on Foresthill Road Exit. Turn Right at the end of the offramp onto Foresthill road. You will shortly cross the Foresthill bridge which is a very cool bridge that crosses the ~1000 ft ravine. Continue for another 5 minutes or so until you see a small parking area on the right hand side of the road. Park along the road and the trailhead is right next to the porta potty. When you enter the trail area follow the well travelled trail which curves to the left. After about 1/2 mile the trail forks. I suggest taking a right to follow the trail in a couter-clockwise manner.
On this occasion we parked at the Clementine trail head and took the roads from the top of Clementine. The connector trail between the two trails should be open in the spring and will make this an awesome all dirt double (or triple with Stagecoach) loop.
The Foresthill Trails Alliance has posted a trail map here.
That map is a bit confusing so there is an alternate trail map here.
FATRAC created this trail
MTBR Review of this trail
The intent was to do a short pleasure ride on Saturday at Foresthill Divide and then a longer more intense ride at the Rubicon River. Things didn't quite work out that way. For some crazy reason on Saturday I suggested that we ride a double loop - the Clementine Loop, the Foresthill Divide Loop, and the 3-4 mile ride each direction between the loops for a total of a little over 25 miles. On top of that our group had swelled from the 3 that I had originally planned to ride with to 8 people.
Most of us started at the bottom of the Clementine Loop at about 1:00 PM. The first climb is about 3 miles long with over 1000' of climbing. All of us made it up the climb without a break (a first for me). The climb is fairly tame with little technical challenge.
Kevin met us about 1 mile from the top and finished the climb with us. Todd and Nick met us at the parking lot at the top of the Clementine Loop. We did take a short break at the top to strategize and perform brief introductions. We were looking for the connector trail to Foresthill Divide but noone knew where the trailhead was. After a couple of false starts we gave up on looking for the connector trail and just rode the 3 miles between trails on Foresthill Road (Turns out we had found the connector trail but it isn't open to bikes yet).
We made quick work of the road between the trails and were soon on the Foresthill Divide trail itself. There is a short trail which leads to the main loop. We generally take the loop in the counter-clockwise direction because it puts the most of the climbing at the beginning of the ride. The bulk of this trail is made up of rolling singletrack similar to this. This section of trail is right after a medium sized uphill about 1 1/2 miles from the Foresthill Divide trailhead. Right around the corner is a fun downhill.
One of the great things about this trail is that about 80% of it is shaded by trees and high shrubs which surround the trail. This makes the trail an excellent choice for the summer time when trails such as Salmon Falls and the Cool Loop are hot houses. The surrounding trees also add a sense of speed and an element of danger as you are zipping downhill.
After climbing fairly consistently for a couple of miles you are treated to some really fun downhills. Most of them are singletrack, but some sections such as the one pictured above are fireroad. The biggest danger on these sections is riding beyond your ability and flying off into the trees.
Nick and Todd are just finishing the first half of the trail. When we reached the road Nick decided to call it a day and headed back for the car. There are very few sections of this trail which are flat, you spend almost all of your time climbing or descending. If you are not in good shape you might want to try some of the flatter trails in the area such as Sweetwater or Salmon Falls. Hey Nick, keep at it, the payoff is worth it.
Foresthill Divide Trail is on the ridgeline between the North and South forks of the American River. There are great views like this all the way around the loop. If you take the loop counterclockwise like we did you will get this awesome view about 7 miles into the ride. It's very tempting to just enjoy the cycling and the trail, but you should stop at least once per ride to enjoy the scenery and admire God's handywork.
Our group was the usual suspects plus a couple new guys. From the left : Todd, Kip whom I met via Steve Wolf, Kelly, Eric, me, and Danny plus Kevin was taking the photo. The other new entry was Nick, a friend of Todd's, he headed back to his truck via the road a few minutes before this photo.
After all the work on the way out the return trip is pretty much the payoff. There are long stretchs of fast singletrack and great canyon views on the Westward leg of the trip. I was very surprised at how easy the few technical sections of this trail were for me now. I didn't struggle on them last time but now I was flying over things I used to pick lines to clear before. I guess the last 6 months of continuous riding have paid off (The picture here is actually from a ride earlier in the Summer).
As we were finishing up Foresthill Divide trail the sun was setting behind the hills and it was getting cold out. We polished off Foresthill Divide and headed West to finish the Clementine Loop and get back to the cars. As we started down the tunnel trail it was dusk and the light was rapidly abandoning us. When we finally started riding the confluence trail (the old roadbed) it was basically night outside and the trail was very dangerous. Those of us who were used to the trail rode it more by feel than sight. Those who were not familiar hung back and picked their way to the finish. We packed up our gear in the dark and had a small feast of shrimp cocktail, crackers and Singletrack Ale by flashlight. What an adventure. I think this is a ride we will all remember for quite some time.