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Salmon Falls - December 6, 2009

Distance: 21.61 miles Ascent: 1996 feet Moving time: 2:23 hours

This was really fun ride! Rather than a ride with a lot of climbing and a matching descent, Salmon Falls is relatively flat as it follows the shoreline of Folsom Lake. It has ups and downs, but they are short. This allows you to maintain more speed across the whole ride. The lack of other riders made the trails quiet and fun.

We had stayed in Auburn after riding at so we wanted to try another ride in the area. Based on some recommendations, we decided to head out to Salmon Falls. However, it was decidedly cold when we got up (near freezing), so we decided that we should have a good breakfast before heading to the trail. We went to Awful Annies in Auburn's Old Town for breakfast. Everyone enjoyed it (another recommendation was Edelweiss across the street). After fortifying the others with coffee, we headed out Highway 49 past the town of Cool. We turned right on Rattlesnake Bar and then an immediate left on Salmon Falls Road and got to the trailhead in another 6 miles. We parked in the pay lot just before the bridge over the river. We even got a little bit of hail before starting the ride.

The trailhead is at the end of the parking lot. After a short moderate climb, the trail forks with the right leg heading up the hill on a rocky ascent and the left leg a more manageable climb until you get to a boulder embedded in the trail and a rocky ride along a cliff. I was leading and went left and everyone else went right. They all complained about too much climbing up the hill, so perhaps I made the correct choice by going left. The trails re-converge, so we all linked up and continued on our way. The trail is a singletrack that follows the river and then the edge of Folsom Lake. There are a few sections of scrub brush, but most of the trail is through oak forest. There are some rocks embedded in the trail, some curves to negotiate, and some rolling ups and downs that all combine to make the trail interesting and very enjoyable. We were able to hold a pretty good pace. The trail went around several inlets and out on several points, making the trail much longer than the distance as the crow flies. much that we decided to go again. There were a few small side trails, but we ignored these and rode the main trail.

We got to a trail junction that indicated a left turn down to "Darrington Trail". Even through the path did not seem to get much use, we gave it a try. This turned out to be a nice excursion through the woods. After watching a hawk fly by, we rode up Rogers Gang Road back to the main trail and continued on. At the Peninsula Camp junction, we turned left out toward the lake and headed out the Peninsula Tip trail out to a vista point at what is normally the end of a peninsula. Since the water level is down pending the winter rains, the vista point was quite a ways from the water's edge, but it was still a nice view and a worthwhile ride.

It looked like bad weather was blowing in (as expected), so we decided to head back. Other than avoiding the Rogers Gang loop, we headed back the way we had come on the main trail. Thomas and I (more Thomas than I in fairness) made pretty good time on the ride back. We stopped at a junction to a trail leading to a bridge that is normally underwater, where we met a guy and his dog named Boza. He told us that the bridge and trail lead over to Sweetwater Trail, but we decided not to explore this today. After a brief chat, all of us (including the guy and Boza) headed off for the parking lot. I was moving at a good clip when Thomas shot past me with the dog quickly following him. We held a good pace back to the parking lot, but the guy suggested that I should take the upper trail on the way back.

We packed up and headed out just as it started to rain lightly. We all really enjoyed this trail and the rolling singletrack without long sustained climbs. We also enjoyed the scenery of the oak forest and the lake. The cool weather turned out to be just right for fast riding, but we were glad to beat the storm. This was a really fun ride and a good ride following a day with lots of climbs.

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