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Foresthill Divide - December 5, 2009

Distance: 25.11 miles Ascent: 3571 feet Moving time: 2:56 hours

We enjoyed our previous Foresthill Divide trip so much that we decided to go again. I almost didn't make it. I had put on a new chain the day before and everything seemed fine, but when I put some pressure on it on the trail it would not stay in a gear. I thought this was the cogset, but my adjustments had no effect. We finally properly diagnosed it as a middle chain ring problem, so I just rode without using this chain ring and had no further problems.

We wanted to extend our previous route (and learn from our mistakes), so we retraced our path from the top down the western side of the Foresthill Divide Loop and down the Connector trail to the point where we stopped last time at Lake Clementine Road. We continued up the hill on Fuel Break before descending Culvert (aka Stonewall) to go under the highway in (are you guessing)...a culvert! We rode down the entrance road to the OHV area a short ways before continuing the descent down to the Middle Fork of the American River on the Confluence trail.

The Confluence trail descended to the confluence of the north and middle forks of the American River. We stopped here for a few picture up to the Foresthill Bridge, the highest bridge in California, and some of the river. We crossed Highway 49 and continued on the Clementine trail. This starts out as a road width trail that necks down to singletrack for a bit before returning to doubletrack. This climbs fairly gently along the river up to Lake Clementine (apparently also call North Fork Lake). There is a nice view of the dam and a waterfall-like spillway, so I went down to the lake for a few pictures. At this point, the trail empties onto the paved Lake Clementine Road which we climbed back to the trail junction. We returned via the Connector Trail and the eastern side of the Foresthill Divide Loop. We got back to the van shortly before dark and before the temperature dropped from the mid-40s to the mid to low 30's.

The Confluence Trail was billed as a highly technical trail with a lot of downhill, but to be honest I was a bit disappointed. Yes there were some rocks and some narrow parts of the trail, but I guess the build-up had me expecting much more. I was surprised to see people shuttling from the river up to the Lake Clementine Road junction because it wasn't all that tricky and it wasn't that hard a trail to climb up. I was also surprised to see that they were all wearing lots of body armor as compared to my helmet and long sleeve shirt. Oh each, his own.

We stayed in Auburn at the Holiday Inn. We were pretty happy with the rooms and the facility, so we can recommend this hotel. We were able to walk from the hotel to Old Town for a well-earned dinner at the Auburn Ale House, which we can also recommend.

We all agreed this was a great ride. We covered more ground than last time while getting in the best parts of the last ride (actually, we did all of the last ride plus more). I felt pretty strong and rode pretty well. It was nice not having to drive all the way back home after the morning drive and then riding all afternoon, and it was nice not having to drive after dinner.

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