Lake Davis – Gold Lakes Loop

The distance is about 71 miles and the elevation gain is about 5,400. My saddle time that day was about 5 hours, but with stops and riding at a conversational pace it will probably take longer. Also that ride did not include the short side trip into Graeagle.

We’ll collect at A23&70, Gold Lake, the market in Portola (food & water), Clio(possibly food & water), Possibly lunch in Graeagle, collect again at the bottom of Gold Lake Road, Gold Lake Lodge, Bassetts (food & water) and at the top of Yuba Pass. The only real bailout opportunity comes at the intersection of A15 (from Portola) and 89 before Clio where you could take 89 back to Satley.

There are no facilities at Sattley and the first decent clump of trees isn’t for about 20 minutes. So you might want to stop in Sierraville or skip the extra coffee or Diet Coke.

More Detailed Description

This ride is my favorite ride in the Sierra Valley and the surroundings. It starts out with a very flat ride from Sattley 15 miles north to Highway 80. The total elevation gain is 60 feet.  Traffic is usually light and often we ride in a semi-pace line depending on the mood of the group.  We still have to be alert to cars and trucks since when they come, they come fast. Once we reach 70 we ride a short while on 70. Before we turn off there’s a Caltrans rest area on the left. After about a mile and a half we turn right on Grizzly Rd. It starts out easy in an area that has some housing and then gets steeper and less developed as we ride up towards the lake.

The total climb is about 975 feet. I like to hold back some on this climb since there’s a lot of riding left. Traffic is usually light, particularly after we pass the Grizzly Ranch Development and golf course. This makes it a good part of the ride to carry on conversations.  At the top of the climb you reach an obvious intersection. On the table it’s labeled Lake Davis and there is a sign straight ahead, but you don’t see the lake yet.

There is a nice side trip. By going straight you can go along the east side of the lake and look for water fowl and other wild life as well as enjoy views of the lake.

This route description has us taking a left at this intersection onto Lake Davis Road and doing a wonderful descent to highway 70 and Portola. There are a couple of cattle guards along the descent. They aren’t bad, but it’s good to show them some respect. At the end of the descent, we turn left on 70 then make a right on South Gulling St. There is a min-mart on the left corner of 70 and South Gulling St.  Usually people like to top off their water bottles, use the bathroom and maybe get some food here.

After that we continue over the Middle Fork of the Feather River into Portola and turn right at the first street. We wind our way through the west part of Portola following the signs for A15. We take A15 through the hills and past the Dragon Golf Couse then make a short descent to 89.

Anyone wanting to do the short option can turn left on 89 and take 89 past Graeagle, up a climb and past Calpine. I recommend taking a left on Calpine Road back to the A23 and returning the way we came. But you can also continue on 89 through a windy section to the intersection with 49 and make a left. From there it’s about a mile back to Sattley. Either way it’s about 20 miles less (52 vs say 72 miles) and less than half the climbing (2300 feet vs 5000 feet), but then you miss Gold Lake, Lakes Basin, Sierra Buttes and the North Fork of the Yuba.

The long option group will turn right on 89 and go about 1.7 miles to Clio. There is an “on again / off again” café in Clio. The last time I checked it out it was closed and had a For Sale sign.

When it was open it was a fun place to stop and see what was going on in Clio. One time I stopped there and there was a group staying at the B&B having something like the 20th Clio or Portola High School reunion.

After Clio we continue 1.7 miles west on highway 70 to Gold Lake Road. At that point we’ll make a decision about going into Graeagle for food and water.  There’s a nice bakery/deli and market in Graeagle which about a mile each way of flat riding that can have uncomfortable traffic conditions.

From highway 70 it is about 7-7.5 miles and 2000 feet of climbing to the top. Last year there was a blue hut on the right.

After that there is a short drop and another 150 foot climb to the road to the Gold Lake boat ramp.  There are restrooms, water and a wonderful view of the lake at the bottom of that road.  From the intersection with the boat ramp road we ride through Lakes Basin and start the decent at Snag Lake down past views of the Sierra Buttes  to Bassetts and highway 49. We often stop at the café for fluids, food and a flush toilet.

Turning left on 49 it is roughly 7 miles and 1200 feet up to Yuba Gap along the North Fork of the Yuba River. At Yuba Gap there are pit toilets on the right.

It is about a 7 mile descent down 49 back to the cars. It’s a wonderful descent, but they patched the road last year and it’s not as smooth as it used to be.

Below is a table of information from my Polar heart rate monitor from doing this ride in 2008.

 

Lap

Dist

Dist from Start

Alt

Asc

Grade %

1

3.6

3.6

4690

0

0.0

Calpine Rd

2

11.5

15.1

4675

60

0.0

Highway 70

3

1.6

16.7

4680

20

0.1

Grizzly Rd

4

5.7

22.4

5625

975

3.2

Lake Davis

5

7.6

30.0

4635

150

2.4

Portola

6

8.1

38.1

4280

255

0.7

Highway 89

7

1.7

39.8

4210

25

0.7

Clio

8

1.7

41.5

4225

45

0.2

Gold Lk Rd

9

1.4

42.8

4205

0

0.2

Graeagle

10

1.3

44.1

4240

20

0.5

Gold Lake Road

11

7.5

51.7

6245

2000

5.0

Gold Lake Lodge and Round Lake Trailhead

12

1.5

53.2

6245

145

0.0

Gold Lake Boat Ramp

13

6.3

59.4

5140

70

3.2

Bassetts

14

6.8

66.2

6385

1250

3.5

Yuba Gap

15

6.0

72.1

4840

0

4.8

Highway 89

16

0.9

73.0

4760

0

1.6

Sattley

5015

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