Ice House Reservoir to Loon Lake


Level of Difficulty:  Moderate to Difficult
(3900' total climbing) 
Riding Time: 4 hours  Printable Area Map:  Ice House Loon Lake Ride  (Adobe Acrobat required)
Season to Ride:  Summer to very early Fall.  Early start recommended on Sunday to avoid weekend camper exodus.

Description:  This 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 20 degrees (F) cooler than in Sacramento.  What was unexpected was how wonderful this ride is.  It is not a loop, there is only one paved road to Loon Lake, however its a beautiful one - and going in both directions, you're bound to see quite a bit that you missed the first time.  Definitely bring a camera if you can.  Some of the views across Loon Lake are truly spectacular (see the bike photos web page).

For those of you riding on road bikes, there are quite a few options for exploring.  Union Lake can be reached by side roads to Sunset Campground, or to Yellowjacket Campground.  Another road called Cheese Camp Road (I'm sure there's a story behind this one) looked inviting.  A third ride that I hope to try shortly is a brief detour to Big Hill Vista, which is near the beginning/end of this ride.  All three detours are apparently paved - though I haven't personally tried them.

If you're on a Mountain Bike, then this is heaven.  There are tons of fire roads waiting for you to explore.  Best be advised to get a good map of El Dorado National Forest - and perhaps one or two topographic maps too.  

Services are extremely limited along the way.  Only one store was seen in this section - Robbs Campground store (closed on Thursdays).  Water is available at the campgrounds.

Ride Note:  This ride can be combined with the Hwy 50 to Ice House Reservoir 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 Sunday in June, and was told that traffic can be pretty heavy on late Sunday afternoons when campers return back home (since I was finished by 3pm, I didn't experience this).  Road is paved all the way to Loon Lake, but the first part of climbing (at mile 14.5 on the ride) up to Chipmunk Bluff can be a little bumpy (lots of road patches).  Little or no shoulder most of the way, but traffic is generally slow, and drivers seem more relaxed up here.

Miles:

Directions:

0.0

Start at Ice House Reservoir at the boat ramp (parking available here).
Head West (away from lake towards entrance).

1.3

Intersection with Ice House Rd.  Turn Right.  2 mile descent follows.

9.1

Begin 1.4 mile climb

11.4

Top of hill (Cheese Camp Rd).  Continue straight.  Gradual downhill next 2.5 miles

11.9

Robbs Campground Store
(closed on Thursdays).

13.3

Wentworth Springs Road joins Ice House Rd.  Continue straight (downhill)

14.0

Cross creek and begin 4.7 mile (1300) climb.

14.5

Intersection.  Wentworth Springs Rd goes straight, Ice House Road goes to right. Turn Right on Ice House Rd..

18.6

Top of hill

18.9

Intersection with road to campground.  Continue straight to go to dam.

20.2

Loon Lake dam.  Cross dam to other side, paved road continues a little further.  Good areas around for picnic.  Ride turns around at this point, though you are welcome to explore further.
Head South (the way you came) on Ice House Rd.

21.5

Top of hill.  Long descent (4.7 miles) follows.

25.6

Intersection with Wentworth Springs Rd.  Turn Left

26.2

Cross creek and begin 2.5 mile climb

26.9

Wentworth Springs Rd goes to Right.  Continue straight on Ice House Rd.

28.3

Robbs Campground Store (closed Thursdays)

28.8

Top of hill (Cheese Camp Rd.)  Continue straight.  1.4 mile downhill follows.

37.4

Begin 2 mile climb.

39.2

Turn Left towards Ice House Reservoir.

40.5

Ride ends at Ice House Reservoir.