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. 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.
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 right fork, Challenge Cutoff, is a 2-mile wide-open, smooth, fast descent well worth riding. The climb back to Forbestown is a bit of a grind. Or from there you can ride to Woodleaf or go down the La Porte road to Bangor (pronounced “bang gore” in our neck of the woods), mostly long straight descending. 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.
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 Bald Rock Road, a lovely, quiet, winding back road that’s good as an out and back or as a loop using Hwy 162 (counterclockwise is better—climbing Hwy 162 is a slog). Bald Rock Rd takes you past Old Bald Rock, a spectacular rock formation (if it were near Moab it would be a world-famous destination) and vista point down a 1/4-mile trail.