The Sierras spawned the Gold Rush. Now the biggest rush comes from mountain biking. The hub of the wheel: Downieville. A quaint settlement four hours northeast of San Francisco, Downieville’s 350 inhabitants support two bike stores. The town’s also the staging area for the 15-mile Downieville Downhill and multiple single-track cross-country trails for intermediate and advanced cyclists. Yuba Expeditions or Downieville Outfitters will rent you a bike (starting price $55 a day), and also save your muscles for your ride. Both bike shops run a shuttle up the mountain that deposits you at 7,100 ft., the starting point for your trip down along forested single-track and rushing rivers. Cool off afterwards with a dip in Oregon Creek (the swimming hole just made Outside magazine’s “favorites” list).
To get to Oregon Creek, head north on Highway 49 from I-80 for about 40 miles. Go one mile north of the Middle Yuba bridge, and park your car on the east side at the two-car turnout. Walk downhill for five minutes until you reach the creek.
TIP: In Downieville check out overnight digs at the Sierra Shangri-La, a collection of rustic cottages with stone fireplaces and private patios set on the Yuba’s north fork. Cabins start at $126 a night. Or stay in the resort’s bed and breakfast; it’s $100 a night for two.
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