If you’re an adrenaline junkie who enjoys the scent of earthy dirt, the faint scratch of twigs on your body, and the feel of a cool morning’s breeze on your face, then mountain biking is for you. Nevada City mountain biking is world-class. The USA is world-renowned for its popular tourist destinations, but mountain biking in Nevada City sadly isn’t one of them. Read on to learn all about the top Nevada City bike trails you can enjoy in sunny California.
Nevada City Mountain Bike Trails
Among the top trails in Nevada City are Hoot Trail, Scotts Flat Trail, and Miner’s Trail. Dieteronomy is another popular trail, but it is unsanctioned so it is not officially recognized. The aforementioned trails are flowy, smooth, and offer a premium mountain biking experience.
It’s important to note that different forms of mountain biking exist and these will determine the type of trail you’ll use. For interest’s sake, these mountain biking categories are; cross country, trail riding, all mountain, downhill, free ride, dirt jumping and trails. All the trails discussed below are primarily downhill mountain biking trails.
The Top Nevada City Trails for Mountain Biking
Nevada City has spectacular views, a rocky landscape, and pleasant environment. The Hoot, Scotts Flat and Miner’s Trails have easy access, enough supplies and amenities, and a rich shared history of the area. Furthermore, active participation by clubs and trail organizations ensure the promotion and maintenance of the sport. All of these factors add to Nevada City trails as an attractive mountain biking destination.
Located in Harmony/Washington Ridge, Hoot Trail is known for being fun and having well-developed berms. Perfect for experienced cyclists! Their well-developed berms will provide your tires with great support and traction, enabling you to ride on them much faster than flat corners.
What makes Hoot Trail the top pick for mountain biking in Nevada City is the incredible flow you’ll experience riding down the trail. Know that you won’t lose momentum on this mostly downhill terrain — you can expect to have tabletops, descents, and the aforementioned berms which will provide for a smooth ride. Since Hoot Trail is a downhill track, the level of difficulty is intermediate to advanced. This trail would suit only experienced downhill riders.
This type of trail is known as a “flow track”. What this means is that you can ride on the trail without the tires of your bike leaving the ground too often and that you won’t have to pedal as much. With experience, comes technical skills that will allow you to ride faster on this flow track and even add jumps onto tabletops.
To get to Hoot Trail you can always park your vehicle by the parking lot at Harmony Market and make your way via Pioneer Trail — just make sure you don’t park inside the parking lot of the market, but on either side of it. You can also refuel your stokes at Harmony Ridge Market or the 5 Mile House, Nevada City.
This is one of the top hikes in Nevada City as well, so be on the lookout for any hikers on this popular trail. An important tip to keep in mind is to be courteous to those traveling uphill by yielding to them. Be communicative and observant when encountering fellow bikers, hikers, and even horses.
Distance: 1.3 miles.
Average Time: Approximately 7 minutes 30 seconds.
Climb: Just over 121 feet.
Descent: Approximately -479 feet.
Type of trail: Singletrack trail suitable for multiple users. Primarily downhill.
Caution: Take note that the trail signage in the area is inadequate. For example, a sign will indicate that there is a path but there will be no trail names or ratings thereon.
Scotts Flat Trail
A singletrack trail known for its incredibly smooth and flowy trail, Scotts Flat Trail is another fan favorite among mountain bikers. This out and back trail comes up frequently when looking at mountain bike trails in Nevada, but hikers also use it since it is also one of the top hikes near Nevada City.
Scotts Flat Trail is one of the newest trails in Nevada City, having been built in 2013. The Fernie Trail Alliance (FTA) and the Bicyclists of Nevada City (BONC) constructed the trail as a joint-project. This trail is frequently referred to as a “masterpiece of trail engineering”.
Starting near Highway 20 and descending to Scotts Flat Reservoir, this trail is well-maintained and is suitable for an intermediate rider. Scotts Flat is popular with hikers and mountain bikers alike, with gently banked turns and plenty of well-maintained variations to keep you happy. Because the entire descending portion of the trail is a series of switchbacks, the grades are thankfully not too steep.
You may find it more fun to ride down the trail and then ride back up Scotts Flat Road. It’s also much easier this way.
There’s a campsite nearby that has a small store that sells beverages and snacks, so if you’re feeling a little peckish you can grab a small bite to eat there after a long session on the trails.
Distance: 7 miles
Average Time: 20 minutes
Climb: 660 feet.
Descent: Approximately -125 feet
Type of trail: Singletrack trail. Primarily ridden downhill.
Did you know that Miner’s Trail was developed in 1998 by the Nevada City Rotary Club in partnership with the City of Nevada? At the trailhead, the Club planted trees, built rock benches, produced trail maps, and installed access markers. While hanging out in downtown Nevada, this is a peaceful place for you to enjoy the beauty and stillness of nature.
Just like Hoot Trail, Miner’s Trail is a mostly downhill trail. Described as a slick trail, Miner’s Trail features include; small gap jumps, side impacts over trees, jumps to wall transfers, rocky flowery gardens, and incredibly steep powdery berms.
Whether you’re hiking or riding down this trail, you’ll find it regularly curves around Deer Creek and beneath the Highway 49 flyover. Nevada City’s historic district can be visited just nearby by shortly walking along Deer Creek.
Distance: Just under 2 miles.
Average time: Under 12 minutes.
Climb: Approximately 20 feet.
Decent: Approximately -550 feet.
Type of trail: Miner’s Trail is a singletrack trail, primarily ridden downhill.
Nevada City Bike Trails Essentials
- A mountain bike: This goes without saying. How will you cycle without a mountain bike? Ensure you have a sturdy and robust bike that can handle any terrain you throw at it. If you don’t have a mountain bike, you can rent one. Just make sure you rent a mountain bike from a reputable supplier. Your mountain bike needs to suit the trail you’ll be riding on. For example, you wouldn’t take a cross country mountain bike on downhill trails.
- A helmet: Mountain biking provides numerous health benefits such as improving one’s mood by releasing endorphins and boosting serotonin. Protect your brain matter by wearing a helmet, so you can keep feeling those good vibes, okay?
- Knee and elbow pads: Wearing knee and elbow pads can protect your knee and elbow joints from injury if you were to lose your balance while cycling and fall off your bike.
- Protective glasses and goggles: Cycling through all that dirt is sure to cause debris to fly in a cyclist’s face. Although branches that may grow into a trail are usually cut off, it’s best to have eye protection in case you find yourself hit with twigs brushing your face while riding.
- Repair kit: Consider getting a decent repair/puncture kit so that you don’t get stuck on the trails.
- Water bottle: You’ll want to refresh and rehydrate yourself after a grueling, yet fun ride. You don’t want to resort to drinking water from a nearby stream when you aren’t aware of how sanitary it is. While you may want to “get close to nature”, you don’t want to get too close that you end up possibly drinking polluted water that may make you sick.
The price of these accessories ranges anywhere from affordable, to outright expensive (depending on who you ask). The price you’ll pay will depend on what your budget and your trail dictates. If you’ll be riding on rough and bumpy terrain, you’ll need to shelve out a bit more for better quality protective eye shields and helmet.
Nevada City Mountain Biking – Should You Try It?
The short answer to this question is a resounding yes. Nevada City hiking trails are also often used by mountain cyclists to get their adrenaline rush fix. If you wanted to, you could even hike the trails after a ride. Mountain biking is a great sport to have fun, bond with friends, and improve your health by exercising. If you are into the exploring lifestyle that comes with mountain biking, adventure biking would be right up your alley and might be worth taking a look at.