Stagecoach is a fairly boring trail with the exception of the 1 1/2 mile section at the top called Manzanita. The Manzanita section is mostly narrow singletrack weaving through manzanita bushes. There are several tough technical sections and a cool "tunnel" where you go through a section of trail completely enclosed with bushes and vines.
After the Manzanita section the rest of the trail is fireroad. We generally park at the Stagecoach trailhead, ride Manzanita and down Stagecoach, cut across the river to ride the Clementine Loop and then ride back up Stagecoach to the car. Overall I don't think Stagecoach is worth riding by itself.
Starting From the Top
Take I-80 East from Sacramento to Auburn, exit on Lincoln, and turn right. Turn left almost immediately onto Russell Road and it will wind downhill (careful it's a 1 lane road) for about a half mile. You will see a dirt parking area on the left, park there. If you want to take Manzanita then DON'T take the Stagecoach trail at this point. Get on your bike and go down Russell road. Russell Road Y's after a short distance, go left and the road will dead end into the trailhead. After getting onto the trail you want to take a left onto the singletrack trail.
Starting From the Bottom
Take I-80 East from Sacramento to Auburn and turn off on the Hiway 49 exit. Carefully follow the signs to Hiway 49 South. Follow Hiway 49 into the Ravine until 49 turns right across the American River. At this point continue straight for another ~1/2 mile and start looking for parking. This area is the confluence of the North and South Forks of the American River. The road will shortly cross the North Fork of the river. The trailhead is on the West bank of the North Fork American River. If you start at the bottom and want to ride Manzanita ride to the top trailhead and follow the instructions above to take Manzanita.
As you start down the Manzanita section of Stagecoach you are winding downhill through a forested area which is filled with Manzanita trees. The trail is fairly narrow in places and once when I rode this section my arm got caught on a branch sticking out... Ouch, I still have a scar. This section is probably some of the most difficult singletrack in the area due to the unforgivingly narrow trail and technical nature of the terrain. Expect to encounter lots of tree roots, rocks, steep droppoffs, and towards the end exposed cliffsides.
This is probably the toughest section of the trail if you manage to clean this you have to deal with a short, steep descent followed by a small bridge. So far I haven't braved this section, I clip out and walk it, if it was just one thing I could probably deal with it but the entire section makes a difficult package.
Jake@capcoa.org -=- May 03rd 2007
This is where I fell last week (www.teampon.com)
One of the nice things about riding in this area area is the abundance of water in the form of small creeks, rivers and lakes. You probably don't want to drink this water, but it's great to dip your head in when you are dieing of heat.
This vine tunnel is one of the most memorable features of this trail. The Vines close overhead combined with riding down a rocky creekbed are a unique and fun feature of this trail.