Looking for local mountain bike rides? Listed below are some of the more popular trailhead or parking areas. Fair warning: there are almost no trail markings and it is easy to get turned around on branch trails. I strongly recommend you go with a local for your first ride. Also, most of these trails are relatively advanced. Many of the climbs are steep and/or long and the singletrack trails require respect (rocks and manzanita hurt). The possible exception is Hensley Lake. Since the trails there are interconnecting loops it is hard to get hopelessly lost.
- The San Joaquin River trail - SJRT - is accessed from 3 locations. Closest to town you can hit the trailhead from the end of Sky Harbour Rd (N37 02.259 W119 38.982). The trail heads immediately uphill from the lower parking area through a green gate. Mostly this is ridden as an out-and-back with the turn around being when you are 1/2 out of time or energy.
- The SJRT runs all the way up to Squaw's near the town of Auberry. You can access the trail mid-way up by starting from the end of Wellbarn Rd (N37 03.063 W119 33.938). From the end of Wellbarn you descend go around the gate and descend down to the SJRT.
- The top point of the SJRT is at Squaw's. Squaw's parking area is toward the bottom of Smalley Rd up near Auberry - approximately here (N37 04.989 W119 33.236). There is a trailhead campground and a blockhouse toilet building at the parking lot. Across the road you will see the SJRT and in the bottom corner of the parking lot you will see the "Squaw's Leap" trailhead.
- "Squaw's Leap" descends to a bridge across the river and then makes a loop after you climb up from the bridge on the other side. I prefer to do the loop clockwise.
- Out closer to Madera there are some fun trails at Hensley Lake. The trails make a couple of connecting loops heading out from the Buck Ridge parking lot (N37 07.228 W119 52.040).
- Up at Bass Lake there is a trail system called "The Sevens". Parking is along the road across the the bottom of Central Camp Rd (N37 17.273 W119 31.188). There are several sections of singletrack that connect the dirt road (Central Camp) as it climbs up the mountain. There are more trails up around the campgrounds. You can even make this into about a 40 mile round trip by going to lookout tower at the top of Shut Eye Peak, elevation 8,470'.
So there you have it. Have fun out there, be careful and remember to respect other trail users. It is hard to make new trails and it is easy to get them closed by being an idiot.
And because some people love to blame others... please remember that you are venturing out and riding at your own risk.