Pleasant Valley Region
Pleasant Valley region is... well... pleasant! The valley is at the transition zone between oak trees and pine trees, so there is quite a variation in the rides here. Rides beginning in Pleasant Valley start at the corner of E16 (Mt Aukum Rd) and Pleasant Valley Rd. There is a good grocery store here (Holiday Market), and for the rides if you park your car away from the front of the store (so regular customers have access) they don't seem to mind. We park on the side near the recycling bins. The Placerville/Newtown Loop starts in Placerville at the start of the bike path.
Time to Ride: Best time to tour this area is Spring through Fall. The Placerville / Newtown loop can be ridden during the warmer days in winter too - the elevations on this ride don't exceed 3,000 ft, so it's only the coldest days that snow would occur.
All rides touch Pleasant Valley Rd, which can be busy at times. The rides are designed to either go on it in brief flat sections, or on the downhill direction - so you can get through it fast. The climbs are on quieter roads - which is where you want to spend most of your time anyway.
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:
Clear Creek / Five Spot - 8 miles. Clear Creek Rd is probably one of the most beautiful roads in El Dorado County. This is a great ride on hot summer days, the canyon is definitely the coolest place in the area. As you leave the canyon on Five Spot Rd, the Cedar forests give way to Oak trees, and the cool canyon temperatures disappear. The climb is not long, and you are rewarded with local views, and then a nice descent down to Starks Grade. Here you can loop back to the start (this ride), or join with the Starks Grade Loop ride for more hill climbing.
Clear Creek / Shooting Star Loop - 9.5 miles. An excellent ride to do on a hot summer day. Especially nice if you time it to ride in the evening - this way most of the climbing will be in the shade. Riding along Clear Creek the rider can experience temperatures more than 25 degrees cooler than what people are experiencing in Sacramento! Besides the cooler temps, the road is absolutely beautiful. A quick climb on Five Spot Rd briefly takes you out of the cool canyon - then the combination of Shooting Star and Sierra Springs Roads return you back to the coolness before ending back at Pleasant Valley. Although the ride can be completed in one hour, it is strongly suggested to take your time and enjoy the beauty (and coolness) of Clear Creek.
Clear Creek / Sierra Springs - 12 miles. The first part of this ride is very similar to the Clear Creek / Five Spot ride mentioned above. Instead of turning on Five Spot though, you continue on Clear Creek which then becomes Sierra Springs. This is a slightly longer ride, has more climbing, and is one of the local favorites. The climbs are rewarded with a great downhill on Sly Park Rd back to Pleasant Valley.
Starks Grade - 16.2 miles. Excellent ride with a long gradual climb on Starks Grade (though first mile is somewhat steeper). Starks Grade is generally a quiet road, so riding this is wonderful. Road ends up at the top of a ridge and the ride turns onto Sly Park Rd for a steep descent to Sly Park (groceries available). A quick detour on Sly Park Dam Rd. to the dam itself offers a wonderful view of the lake and mountains behind it. Sly Park Rd can be busy at times - especially on Summer afternoons and weekends (best to ride in the morning).
Placerville / Newtown Loop - 21 miles. Though technically this doesn't go through Pleasant Valley, it gets close enough to list here. This ride starts in Placerville at the beginning of the Bike Path. It follows the bike path, then heads south towards Pleasant Valley. Though you might be tempted to continue on Newtown road instead of taking Fort Jim Rd, we definitely recommend riding on Fort Jim Rd as the road is quiet, very pretty, and much more rewarding. A quick (flat) detour to Pleasant Valley for food is possible half way through the ride. The ride continues on Pleasant Valley for a few miles, then exits to quieter roads such as Quarry and Big Cut before returning to Placerville. This is one of the local favorite rides.
Pleasant Valley / Fairplay Ride - 20 miles. This ride starts at the highest elevation, so once you go, you're committed to doing the ride. Having said this, it's a wonderful ride. You will cross over two forks of the Consumnes river, then do a brief tour through the Fairplay wine region before returning. To make things extra special, a small detour on Happy Valley Rd gives some memorable views of two forks of the Consumnes river.
Placerville / Pollock Pines / Sly Park Loop - 37 miles. Longest of the rides listed here, it also starts in Placerville at the beginning of the bike path. From here it heads directly uphill to Pollock Pines, then heads south to Sly Park. A small detour on Sly Park Dam Rd (about 1/2 mile) gives a wonderful view of the lake and mountains behind it. The ride continues downhill to the town of Pleasant Valley (groceries, supplies), and then continues eastward to Cedar Ravine, and the quieter roads of Quarry and Big Cut before returning to Placerville. It's best to ride this loop early to avoid afternoon traffic. An alternate (less traffic) exists on Starks Grade, but will bypass Sly Park and the town of Pleasant Valley.