Distance: 31 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 2760 ft
This is a nice, pretty climb from the edge of the Sacramento Valley up through the foothills and into the cedar forests of the western Sierra with a classic mountain store as a destination and a sweet potable spring along the way. It’s pretty much all up, but with lots of variety in the scenery and the riding conditions so it’s never a slog.
(To see an interactive version of the map/elevation profile, click on the ride name, upper left, wait for the new map to load, then click on the “full screen” icon, upper right.)
Navigation is a mite tricky on this one. Begin at the intersection of Hwy 162 and Miner’s Ranch Rd. There’s a shopping center with a large parking lot for your car. Ride a stone’s throw up 162 and turn R on Old Olive Highway. When it deadends on Forbestown Rd., turn R and take an immediate L onto Hurleton Rd. When you see a 30-foot cut-off to Forbestown Rd., take it, turn L on Forbestown, then ride a quarter mile or so and turn R onto Black Bart Rd. When Black Bart ends back at Forbestown Rd., turn R and ride to the town of Forbestown.
On Forbestown Road you’ll climb, descend, then begin a moderately long climb after a sweeping L turn. Halfway up that climb is a treat that’s becoming rarer and rarer in the California mountains: a potable spring. It’s set back a bit from the road on your R in a stone basin (photo below). Usually there are cars filling water jugs. Trust me, it’s safe, and the water is great, so dump your water and refill.
Continue to Forbestown, which is an intersection with a friendly little grocery store for resupplying. The last mile or so before “town” is a fast, straight descent. Turn around and return to your car. It’s almost entirely downhill after the first mile, and much of the descending would be worthy of our Best of the Best list if it weren’t for the fact that Black Bart and Old Olive Hwy are both aggressively chipsealed. It’s still very good.
Shortening the route: The miles are all about equally good, and it’s all steadily up on the way out, so it’s just a question of what terrain you crave—the ride starts in dry Valley scrub and ends in lush conifer forest.
Adding miles: There are lots of good roads you’re near on this ride. Just after the town of Forbestown the road forks, and the R fork, Challenge Cutoff Road, is sweet riding that takes you over to Sharon Valley on the Laporte (also spelled La Porte and LaPorte) Road, which you can take in either direction. Going R, the easier and less interesting direction, you descend, straightly and steeply, to Bangor (pronounced “bang gore” in our neck of the woods). From Bangor you can go left or right, and the riding is mellow rolling ranchland in either direction. North/right returns to Miner’s Ranch Rd and your car, south/left becomes Los Verjeles and leads to a turn-around dead end on Marysville Rd.—a bit rough of surface but very pleasant if the country traffic isn’t bad.
Going L on Laporte Rd. offers you an incredible 57 miles of uninterrupted, good, hard riding all the way to Quincy on the Laporte Rd, which becomes the Laporte-Quincy Rd somewhere south of Laporte. It’s all up and down, those 57 miles netting you a sobering 8000 ft of elevation gain, and it’s almost good enough to be a Bestrides ride on its own. Sharon Valley to the town of Laporte is constant little ups and downs through tiny mountain communities and vacation cabins amid solid forest. After Laporte, the road changes. It’s bigger, straighter, and more open, and climbs without much respite for 13 miles, much of it at 8-10%, to a summit with big views of the surrounding forests, after which it plummets through 5 miles of esse-curves down to a dramatic hairpin turn at a creek crossing, then rolls more gently to Hwy 70. It’s much more varied, dramatic, and harder than the road south of Laporte.
On your way back down Forbestown Road, if you don’t turn off at Black Bart, you’ll pass the turn-off to our Lumpkin Road ride.
From your parking spot you’re a short ride down Miner’s Ranch Road from a network of small, interesting back roads southeast of Oroville. Take the first R onto Mt. Ida Rd. and wander. Good roads include Mt. Ida Rd., Oroville Bangor Hwy., Dunstone Rd., Grubbs Rd., Oakvale Ave, and Naranja Ave.
From your starting point on Hwy 162, you can drive up 162 to our Bald Rock Road ride.