Hey, hikers: You can thank mountain bikers for the lovely 10-mile Foresthill Divide Loop Trail northeast of Auburn.
In 1998, the Folsom-Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition, a coalition of mountain bike enthusiasts, spearheaded efforts with California State Parks to cut and build the Foresthill Divide Trail. The group had been instrumental in building other multiuse trails, including two popular Salmon Falls routes and the Lake Clementine Connector Trail.
It’s easy to tell that FATRAC built – and routinely performs maintenance on – the Foresthill Divide Loop. The single- and double-track trails are mostly free of invasive weeds (dang you, star thistle) poking out. The fire roads on this loop are smooth and easily navigable. The hills are not gaspingly difficult. Even the few rocky, technical ravines are passable. Sometimes, for a hiker or runner, it’s nice to follow the tire tracks and not to have to forge your own path.
Another FATRAC-inspired feature: great signage. There are many twists and turns to the Foresthill Divide, many side trails and off-shoots to overlooks. But the mountain bike stewards have made it difficult for even the directionally challenged to get lost. Permanent signs, many with arrows and mile markers, show you the way, which is particularly helpful on the second half of course.
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Ninty-nine percent of mountain bikers are polite and won’t run down hikers, but keep your head up for that 1 percent.
Weekend hike: Foresthill Divide Loop
Distance: 10 miles
Directions to Trailhead: Take Interstate 80 to the Foresthill Road/Auburn Ravine exit. Drive east over the Foresthill Bridge for eight miles to the large parking lot on the left, shortly after the junction with Drivers Flat Road on the right. The trailhead gate is No. 128.
Route: From the trailhead, go left onto the trail. At 3.3 miles, cross the gravel road and continue on the trail. Go left at the next fork that will lead to Foresthill Road. Cross the road, veer left onto the dirt trail. Follow the sign saying “Drivers Flat Road 5 Miles.” Follow the trail signs first left, then right. Turn left briefly on a double-track road, and then turn right at the trail arrow. Cross a bridge and then turn left at the trail sign. Reaching the Drivers Flat Staging Area, continue straight through the parking lot to the single-track trail behind the portable toilet. Follow single track to Foresthill Road, cross the road to the finish.
Toilets: Yes, portable at trailhead
Call The Bee’s Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis.