El Dorado Rides Overview - General Area
The rides listed below cover a wide category, crossing several regions, so these are put into a "General El Dorado" category. Generally speaking, rides to the east of Placerville will be cooler in the Summer, the ones to the west of Placerville warmer in the Winter. Around the 3,000 ft elevation you will notice a change in scenery as the Oak trees give way to Pine trees. You are now entering the winter "snow line" at this level.
The list below does not include all the rides available on this site. Several other regional lists are available, including the Apple Hill Region, the Pleasant Valley Region, and several others. These links cover rides specific to those particular areas and are available on the main Bike Index Page.
Time to Ride: This really depends on which of the rides listed below you plan to do. Rides that stay below 3,000 ft. elevation can be ridden year round - except on the coldest winter days where snow levels may drop with very cold storms. Rides to the west of Placerville may be too hot to ride mid-day in the summertime - though you can probably ride them in the early mornings or late evenings. For about every 1,000 feet of elevation gain, the temperature generally drops about 3 degrees F. So if riding on a summer day where it's 90 degrees in Sacramento, it will be 78 degrees in Pollock Pines (elevation 4,000).
Rides: As a general rule of thumb, rides tend to average about 10-14 miles per hour. Climbing overall is approximately 100 feet/mile (so a 20 mile ride has about 2000 feet total climbing).
Rides in this area include (listed in order by total distance):
El Dorado Trail (6 miles - one way) - This is a true gem of Placerville... a terrific example of Rails to Trails... this route climbs gently from Placerville towards Camino. Although only 6.3 miles in length (one way), it is almost completely free of traffic (one very small section on Jacquier Rd has traffic). The ride is scenic, and is very practical for jumping off to other rides in the area. The first half is paved, the second half is unpaved (we're hoping the second half will get paved and connect with the roads in Camino soon). It's also a great path for hikers and equestrians. Highly recommended.
Coloma - Thompson Hill Loop (13 miles). This is a relatively new ride, something that our bike group hadn't done before 2001. Although the distance is relatively short, there is more climbing per mile than most other rides listed - which is why it borders on the difficult rating. Don't let that discourage you though. Thompson Hill Rd is a wonderful scenic road with little traffic, and makes all the climbing worth while. The climb up Lotus Rd is stiff, but it gives you breaks, and the shoulder is wide here. Groceries and restaurants can be found in Coloma.
Shingle Springs - Deer Valley - Ponderosa Loop - (17 miles). This is a popular ride as it is easy to get to, and Deer Valley Rd is just plain nice to ride on. Good time to ride this is in the Spring, Winter or Fall. This would be considered a moderate level ride. Plan about 2 hours to complete.
Rock Creek - Finnon Reservoir - (17 miles). One of our favorites. This is not a loop ride, but the scenery is absolutely wonderful, and traffic generally light. You spend most of your time high above the American River with one descent down to Rock Creek. Not much in the way of supplies along the way. Definitely bring a camera if you can. Ride takes about 2 hours to complete.
Placerville - Newtown Loop - (21 miles). This is a good ride with varying scenery. You start in Placerville and ride along the bike path for the first two miles, then head south towards Pleasant Valley. The ride then turns westward on Pleasant Valley Rd, then exits for more quieter roads such as Quarry and Big Cut. Ride takes about 2 hours to complete. A small (flat) detour at one point takes you into the town of Pleasant Valley where you can get groceries.
Shingle Springs -
Old French Town Loop - (21 miles). This is a wonderful ride, the only
downside is a 5 mile stretch of busy roads (Mother Lode Dr, and the first mile
or two on South Shingle Rd). After that, it's ideal bicycling on quiet
roads. The sections on Bandon and French Creek Roads are especially
wonderful for cycling. Time to complete is about 2 hours.
Placerville - Prospectors Grade - Chili Bar Loop - (29 miles). This is a difficult level ride with over 3,000 feet of climbing. Prospectors Grade is considered one of the hardest climbs in El Dorado County. But don't let this discourage you. There are some wonderful spots here, and the Lotus Rd and Highway 193 descents (the latter into Chili Bar) are incredible. Traffic conditions vary greatly, with some roads busy, and others having almost no traffic. This ride can be done in about 4 hours, and there are places along the way to get groceries. This ride is good practice for hill climbing.
Placerville - Pollock Pines - Pleasant Valley - (37 miles). Also referred to as "Once around the block", this ride covers a great deal of El Dorado county. It starts in Placerville, climbs up to Pollock Pines, then descends down to Sly Park (there's a very beautiful lake here), then Pleasant Valley before returning back to Placerville. Plan at least 4 hours for this ride. Best to do this ride in the morning hours when traffic is light. There are several places along the way to get groceries, and the route can be easily modified to include more of Apple Hill or bypass some of the busier sections by going down Starks Grade.
Salmon Falls - Lotus - Green Valley (42 or 45 miles). This is a great ride to do in the Winter or Spring when riding higher elevations isn't possible (Summertime may be a little warm unless you start early in the morning). The ride starts on El Dorado Hills Blvd near Highway 50 (parking available in nearby shopping center), then crosses Green Valley Rd and becomes Salmon Falls Rd. The ride is rolling hills for a while, then starts a good stiff 3.6 mile climb to Pilot Hill. From there it joins Highway 49 as you descend down to Coloma (food, limited services). The route then turns onto Lotus Rd after crossing the American River, then offers a second good stiff hill climb up Lotus Rd. The ride starts its return on Green Valley Rd, and there is an alternate on the quieter Deer Valley Rd (a few miles longer and some additional hills, but quieter and more scenic).
Folsom Lake Loop (53 miles). One of the most popular rides listed on this web site. It starts in old-town Folsom, heads northeast to the town of Cool, crossing the South Fork of the American River along the way. Past the town of Cool, the route descends sharply to the confluence of the Middle and North Forks of the American River. The Old Foresthill Rd climbs back out of this canyon to the spectacular Foresthill Bridge, and then goes into the town of Auburn (most services available here). A very long and mostly gentle descent follows back towards Folsom. The last few miles are on the American River Bike Trail so you can avoid the heavier traffic. Get an early start on this if going in the summertime to avoid the heat.