Hwy 50 to Ice House Reservoir

Level of Difficulty:  Moderate to Difficult
(2900' total climbing) 
Riding Time: 3 hours  Printable Area Map:  Hwy_50_to Ice House Ride  (Adobe Acrobat required)
Season to Ride:  Summer to very early Fall.  Early start recommended on Sunday to avoid weekend camper exodus.

Description:  This ride also came out of the desire to find a cool place to ride on a hot summer day.  Temps on this ride will generally be about 10 to 20 degrees (F) cooler than Sacramento.  Great views are present almost the entire route, so definitely bring a camera.  The climb is a long continuous one, but not steep (about 7% grade the first 7 miles).  While the climb is not difficult, it is exposed (due to the Cleveland fire about a decade ago), so bring plenty of water. After the climb, the ride pulls away from the American River canyon for the cooler forests near Ice House Reservoir.  There is a small general store at Ice House Resort (about 9 miles from the start), this is the only place to get supplies.  

There are areas to explore in and around Ice House Reservoir.  A two mile detour from the turn-off to Ice House Reservoir will take you up to Big Hill Lookout.  The road is now paved, though I haven't tried it yet (hopefully soon!).  Also, the road from Ice House Reservoir now continues onto Wrights Lake, and it was paved for the first time recently.  This would be a 10 mile detour with about 2,000' climbing.  Again, I haven't tried it yet, but hope to soon.  Wrights Lake is beautiful, so it could be a welcome addition to this ride.

The ride back from Ice House to Highway 50 is a spectacular one.  The impression of going through the gap, and seeing all the mountains (and the canyon) in front of you will leave you feeling like you're at the top of the world.  That primes you for the descent back down - a terrific one with the views, and not so steep that you have to constantly ride your brakes.

Ride Note:  This ride can be combined with the Ice House Reservoir to Loon Lake Ride to create a full day's ride (63 miles with total of 6,800' climbing!).

Traffic notes:
 The traffic on Summer weekends can be moderate.  I rode this on a Saturday in July (the day after the 4th of July), and was told that traffic can be pretty heavy on late Sunday afternoons when campers return back home.   The climb section has a small shoulder most of the way, though there's little or no shoulder after that.  The traffic is generally slow, though often you'll find a line of cars after a truck or trailer (or other slow vehicles).  Most people I met were very surprised to encounter a bicyclist up here, but were very kind and considerate when passing.




Start at intersection of Ice House Rd and Highway 50.  Some parking available here.  (If area is full, there is another area to park 0.4 miles up Ice House Rd.)  Start riding up Ice House Rd (away from Hwy 50). 


Cattle Guard.  Strongly recommended to walk your bike across this, gaps in guard are wider than normal.


Intersection with White Meadow Rd.  Continue on Ice House Rd.


Cleveland Information Station (bathrooms available)


Climb stiffens a little here.


Intersection with Peavine Ridge Rd.  Continue on Ice House Rd.  Road goes through gap as it heads away from the American River Canyon.


Road levels out.


Ice House Resort (limited groceries, restaurant).


Turn Right on Road to Ice House Reservoir.  Follow signs to Boat Launch Ramp.


Intersection.  Road to left continues to Wrights Lake.  Continue straight.


Ice House Reservoir (elevation 5450).  At this point, the ride returns the same way you came.


Intersection.  Continue Straight
Possible Detour: Road to Left goes to Ice House Dam (about 0.8 mile detour with last 0.2 mile unpaved).  Picnic area at end near dam.

Alternate ride:  Road to Right continues to Wrights Lake (10 miles further, 2,000 feet climbing.  This road is now paved.)


Turn Left on Ice House Rd.
Alternate Ride:  You can continue to Union Valley Reservoir (about 5-8 miles further depending on which road you exit on) or Loon Lake (19 miles further) at this point.  See Loon Lake Ride Map for details


Ice House Resort (limited groceries, restaurant).  Short climb follows.


Road goes through gap.  Spectacular descent to American River follows.


Cleveland Information Station (bathrooms available)


Cattle Guard.  Going downhill across guard is not as big of a problem as when crossing this going uphill.  Still you may want to walk across it.


Ride ends at Highway 50.