Mountain Biking

The Lost Sierra region is rapidly becoming less “lost” when it comes to mountain biking. From the Sacramento Bee to Outside’s 10 Great American Mountain Biking Trails, to Dirt Mountain, the area is gaining traction with the mountain biking community. Many of the most noted trails are geared to the hardcore mountain bikers, but there is plenty of terrain to be enjoyed by those wanting a less rigorous ride, or families who are looking for an outdoor sport to enjoy together.

Below you’ll find some of our favorite trails from extreme descents to gentle meanderings through the forest. Contact our Adventure Concierge for trail ideas or contact our Package Department at     (877) 249-7768 for a lodging package so you can enjoy the diversity of trails that surround Nakoma.

Mountain biking in Downieville California near Nakoma Resort


Mills Peak Trail: Intermediate to Advanced

The Mills Peak Lookout Trail was built in 2008 with mountain bikes in mind. It’s a great out and back, although because of the distance and the climb, some riders may prefer to drive to the top and only ride the downhill.

Ascent: 269′
Descent: 3,167′
Average Grade:  7%
Maximum Grade: 27%
Terrain: 90% single track

One Way (Descent)
To reach the start of the downhill, take Gold Lake Highway to Church Meadow Road, go left and continue on to Mills Peak Road and to the fire lookout. The trailhead is next to the picnic table at the top. Mills Peak Fire Lookout, elevation 7,300 feet, is one of the few manned fire lookouts in the area. It’s worth the time to climb up to the lookout and take in the view from that vantage point. During the manned summer months, feel free to visit with the Forest Service staff on duty who have a wealth of knowledge about the area.

Top to bottom, this 8.5 mile predominantly singletrack trail is moderately technical with great flow. You’ll wind through the pines and have fabulous views from many points.

 17.6 mi.
Ascent: 3,018’
Descent: 3,167′
Average Grade:  7%
Maximum Grade: 27%
Terrain: 90% single track

Out and Back
For the hammerheads, the out and back starts at 4,500 feet elevation Graeagle, 1.5 miles south of Graeagle on Hwy. 89. Park in the dirt area off Hwy. 89 just south of Gold Lake Highway.

The strenuous, moderately technical trail climbs 3,018 feet on 90% single track with 1.5 miles of pavement. It’s a great ride because it maintains a fairly consistent grade all the way to the top. When the topography gets really steep, the trail becomes rideable switchbacks. There are no boulders, drop-offs, or waterbars to stop your forward progress. Traction is not a problem.

Phil’s Loop – Lower Mills: Beginner

Distance: 2.5 mi.
Ascent: 250’
Descent: 250′
Average Grade:  2-8%
Terrain: 100% single track

For the beginner to intermediate rider, this is a great short putt consisting of a 2.5 mile loop with only 250 feet of ascent. The trail winds through the forest at the base of Mills Peak, offering a gentle mountain bike experience for adults and a feeling of adventure for the kids.

This loop can ridden in either direction. The 250 ft ascent is steeper if you take the loop counterclockwise. Going this direction, take the clearly routed left turn near the top of the grade. If you get to a paved road, you have missed the turn.

Downieville Classic Route (Descent): Intermediate to Advanced

Distance: 14-16 miles, depending on route
Ascent: 665’
Descent: 4,846′
Average Grade:  7%
Maximum Grade: 42%
Terrain: 90% single track

This is the downhill portion of the classic Downieville Downhill Race course. While this can be ridden by intermediates, it is not for the faint of heart. The 4846’ descent is 90% single track with a maximum downhill grade of 42%. This will truly test your skills even for the advanced cyclist. You can expect loose rock, creek crossings, tight switchbacks and some of the fastest descents you can experience. It’s epic across the board. This trail finishes in Downieville where Yuba Expeditions can shuttle you back to your car or to your second run.

Big Boulder from Packer Saddle (Descent): Advanced ONLY

Distance: 21.8 miles
Ascent: 1,644’
Descent: 5,813′
Average Grade:  6%
Maximum Grade: 57%
Terrain: 70% single track

This very technical ride starts at Packer Saddle and is an alternative route to Downieville. You’ll encounter undulating climbs throughout the ride and a technical descent of nearly 6,000 feet. Hold on and get in the back seat because the maximum grade is 57%. The trail finishes in Downieville where Yuba Expeditions can shuttle you back to your car or to your second run.


Mt Hough: Beginner or Intermediate

12.5 miles
Ascent: 476’
Descent: 3,993′
Average Grade:  7%
Maximum Grade: 28%
Terrain: 90% single track

One Way (Descent)
For those looking for a fun, rolling downhill, start the ride at the top of Mt. Hough. There is a clearing at the summit with room to turn around. Make sure when you park to leave room so other vehicles can make the turn after they drop off riders. Grippe and super fast is what you can expect on the way down. And whether you shuttle it or go out and back the dirt is outstanding all year round.

Distance: 24.8
Ascent: 4,636’
Descent: 4,220’
Average Grade: 7%
Maximum Grade: 28%
Terrain: 50% single track

Out and Back
This trail is sometimes referred to as Huff and Puff because of the 4,636’ climb on the fire road to summit Mt. Hough. With a maximum grade of only 28%, this is one of the flowiest, wide-open rippin’ single tracks in the area. It’s not technical and the velcro feel of the loamy soil under your tires allows you to really open it up. Plan a lunch break at the top of Mt. Hough and enjoy the views of Crystal Lake below.

Cascade Trail: Beginner or Intermediate

Distance: 4.1 miles
Ascent: 343’
Descent: 700’
Average Grade: 7%
Maximum Grade: 35%
Terrain: 90% single track

This is a great beginner to intermediate trail with short climbs totaling only 343 feet and 700 feet of descent. You’ll be greeted by breathtaking views of Spanish Creek as you wind through the canyon. The shady overlooks of Spanish Creek give numerous opportunities for a snack stop or lunch break. In general, this is a great loop for everyone in the family.


Lake Davis Loop: Beginner

Distance: 22.5 miles
Ascent: 200’
Descent: 200’
Average Grade: 3%
Maximum Grade: 5%
Terrain: 50% single track

This is a great family-friendly ride or starter ride for someone new to mountain biking. The route is mostly flat and includes a variety of terrain from 8.5 miles of single track to 12.5 miles of packed gravel. There are numerous spots to have a picnic lunch by the lake. This is one of our most family-friendly routes.

For more information about any of these trails contact our Adventure Concierge or visit where you can also download maps to your mobile device.

Download Information

NAKOMA: Nearby Mountain Biking

Suggested links (pre-ride)

The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship

Howling Dogs Bike & Ski

Suggested link (post-ride)

The Brewing Lair of the Lost Sierra

Eureka Peak Brewery at Chalet View Lodge