Folsom Lake Loop

Level of Difficulty:  Difficult (4440' total climbing) 
Riding Time: 4 - 5 hours  Printable Area Map:  Folsom Lake Loop  (Adobe Acrobat required)
Season to Ride:  Year round.  During Summer an early start is advised to avoid the heat.

Description:  This has been the most requested ride to document for the entire Beautifulvista web site.  I was apprehensive to document it at first due to the heavy traffic on Highway 49 in the American River canyon (between Cool and Auburn).  Then a fellow bicyclist (Gene) suggested that the Old Foresthill Rd provided a good alternate to Highway 49 for climbing out of the canyon.  It adds six miles to the ride (and a few additional hills), but the views and the lighter traffic more than makes up for the added distance.

The ride in general is a great one - and certainly one of the most popular rides in the county.  There are several places to pick up groceries along the way (Pilot Hill, Cool, Auburn), and the scenery is terrific.  Traffic can be heavy in places (see Traffic notes below).  Best time to ride this is on weekends, starting as early as possible in the mornings - especially in the Summer where the heat can be quite oppressive at the lower elevations.  Avoid riding this loop on weekdays during rush hour traffic.

Traffic notes:
 The towns of Folsom and Auburn can have heavy traffic.  Also between the town of Cool and the Old Foresthill Rd, traffic can be very heavy (fortunately you are going mostly downhill in this direction, but still be careful - especially on the one uphill near the rock quarry).  The (new) Foresthill Rd has moderate traffic, but can move amazingly fast at times.  We had one sports car pass us at well over 80 mph here.  The remainder of the roads will have mostly moderate traffic.  Be cautious going around blind corners on these winding roads.  




Start in Old Town Folsom in parking lot between Sutter St and Leidesdorf St (near the new bridge – across the street from Bicycles Plus).  Head East (uphill) on Sutter St.


Turn Right on Coloma St.


Turn Left on Natoma St.


Pass Folsom Dam Rd.  Continue straight.


Natoma St ends.  Turn Left on Green Valley Rd.


Turn Left on Salmon Falls Rd.


Salmon Falls Bridge (crosses American River / Folsom Lake).
Begin climb to Pilot Hill .


Top of climb.  Rolling hills after here to Cool.


Turn Right on Salmon Falls Cutoff Rd (watch for sign pointing to Hwy 49)


Turn Left on Highway 49.


Grocery Store in Pilot Hill


Intersection with Hwy 193 – Continue Straight on Hwy 49.  Town of Cool on left side (groceries, restaurants).  Traffic increases here.


Pass Quarry on right side.  Quick steep uphill on narrow road – use caution.


Begin descent to North Fork of American River.


After crossing North Fork of American River, turn Right on Old Foresthill Rd.


Old Foresthill Rd ends.  Turn Left on Foresthill Rd. Can be very high-speed traffic here so cross carefully (make sure there’s a wide enough gap).


Cross Foresthill Bridge. Climb starts just after bridge.


Turn Left at top of hill onto Lincoln Way (just before Highway 80). Traffic increases here.


At stoplight at bottom of hill, turn Right on Highway 49 (becomes High St.).  Enter downtown Auburn (food, restaurants, most other services).


Hwy 49 veers towards right.  Continue straight on High Street.


High St ends. Turn Left on Auburn Folsom Rd.


At stoplight, turn Left on Beals Pt Rd – go into park (bicyclist don’t pay toll).  Continue to top of hill and turn Right on bike path.  Follow dotted yellow line (main bike path) down to Folsom.


Turn Left and cross bike path Bridge (across American River / Lake Natomas) into Folsom.


At stoplight walk bikes across Scott St, then turn Right and walk bikes across Riley St
Turn Left and ride to next stoplight (100 yards).  
Turn Right on Leidesdorf St. 


Ride ends at parking lot on left side.