Jackass Trail is probably the most ridded downhill trail in the Truckee area, and that’s for a good reason. It’s rideable by all levels of riders, with ride arounds for beginners and doubles, drops, and rock rolls for advanced riders. It’s newly legal (thanks Truckee Trails Foundation & US Forest Service!) and there’s a new trail for climbing so go check it out.
I rode the Royal Gorge Trails on Donner Summit for the first time this summer, this is such a cool and underrated area for mountain biking in Truckee! The trails are well built, and climbing doesn’t feel like a chore to get to the good stuff. While the downhills have flow, they’re not overbuilt flow trails, and riding through the forest feels natural. As a bonus, they aren’t as well known as the other Truckee trails, so they don’t get very crowded or beat up by overuse.
The fact that there are any trails at Royal Gorge is an amazing story of conservation success story. In 2012, Mountain Area Preservation (the organization where I work), Truckee Donner Land Trust (the organization where Greyson works) and eight other organizations came together to stop a proposed development of 950 residential units. Through negotiations and fundraising more than $11 million, the Truckee Donner Land Trust was able to acquire more than 3,000 acres at Royal Gorge, which is now permanently protected and accessible to the public for mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing and more! Click here for more information from the Land Trust about Royal Gorge.
For an awesome ride that showcases some of the Royal Gorge Highlights, I’d recommend this route that’s mainly on the Royal Gorge Rim Trail which is about 6 miles and ~1,000 feet of climbing. Park at the Hoelter Hall Trail Head in Soda Springs, and from there hop on Upper Switchback which turns into Lower Claim Jumper. After about 0.5 miles on Lower Claim Jumper, there’s an intersection and take the right fork to continue on to Upper Claim Jumper for less than 0.25 miles. Take a right for a short jaunt on the Razorback/Claim Jumper Connector and then another right on to Lower Bogus Basin. After about 0.3 miles, you’ll hit a trail intersection where you want to take the middle trail with lots of switchbacks, Razorback Reroute. Razorback ends at a bench with awesome views, so check it out.
Razorback turns into the Royal Gorge Rim Trail (RGRT), but be sure not to miss the Rowton Peak Spur, which is a short climb rewarded with amazing views. After riding back down, hop back on the the RGRT Bogus Basin to Razorback segment which descends a fun and flowy 230 feet in about 0.75 miles. At the intersection, take the left trail on to RGRT Tiny Tim to Bogus Basin for another 300 feet of descent interspersed with some short climbs that dead ends on a very short section of access road. Go left on the access road, and almost immediately RGRT Soda Springs to Tiny Tim, the final bit of trail on this route will be on the left. The Royal Gorge Rim Trail ends on Soda Springs Road, which will take you back to the parking area.
This route is just a part of the Royal Gorge Trails, and I’m excited to explore more of this area before winter arrives!
Location: Soda Springs, Donner Summit, California
Mileage: ~6.25 miles
Elevation Gain: ~1,000 feet
With this super long winter we’ve been having, I’ve been having so much fun exploring the trails in the lower elevations surrounding Truckee. Last weekend, Greyson and I checked out some new-to-us trails in the Mount Rose area of Reno, as you might have seen in my video. We rode the Dry Pond Loop counterclockwise, and it was a great intermediate ride, on the easier side of intermediate. It’s about 6.5 miles and a little over 1,000 of climbing, with most of the climbing coming in the first half.
This loop is below Mount Rose in the Galena area, south and west of downtown Reno off of Highway 431. We parked at the Thomas Creek Trailhead parking area (Click here for Google Map directions) and headed up Thomas Creek Trail right from the large parking lot. This trail climbs steadily, but not too steeply along Thomas Creek through aspen groves and into the pines. We saw a ton of hikers with dogs on this section of the trail, but nearly everyone was very friendly. After about 1.5 miles and ~500 feet of climbing, Thomas Creek Trail intersects with the Dry Pond Trail.
Dry Pond Trail continues to climb, and the climb definitely gets steeper at this point, and there are a few very tight and steep switchbacks that I struggled with. Dry Pond trail takes you through a curly leaf mountain mahogany forest, which is really cool. I’d only ever seen bush sized mountain mahogany before. There are also really sweeping views looking down into the Washoe Valley.
After about 1.2 miles and another ~440 feet of climbing, we arrived at the dry pond that gives the trail it’s name. We stopped here to have a snack and admire the awesome view of Mount Rose across the meadow. The Dry Pond Trail starts heading downhill almost immediately after the meadow, and the trail on the south side was pretty different from what we’d just climbed up. While the climb up was mostly dirt with some embedded rocks and roots, the downhill was looser, rockier and more exposed. It’s all very rideable, but I was amazed at the quick change in the terrain.
At about mile 3.8, Dry Pond Trail intersects Whites Creek Trail. We turned left and continued down hill. Whites Creek Trail isn’t as steep as Dry Pond, and it’s back in the pines and aspen groves. The trail isn’t a “flow trail”, but I thought it was fast and flowy, with lots of little rock gardens and objects to pop off of that you can choose to challenge yourself on. It also gets a little sandy in spots, especially towards the bottom, and I imagine it will be even more sandy later in the summer. As we got closer to the end, we started to encounter more bikers, hikers, and dogs, but generally people were really friendly. Whites Creek Trail dead ends at N. Timberline Dr. where we turned left and headed the last half mile back to the car. There’s a tiny bit of a climb back to the parking area, and my legs were dead at this point. It was almost comical how hard the less than 75 feet of climbing felt to me.
I really enjoyed riding the Dry Pond Loop. There were great views, interesting ecosystems, friendly people, and enough challenge to make it entertaining. I think this would be a great trail to take newer riders on.