“A little known mountain biking gem in the Central California foothills.”
— James Alcorn on Mar 15, 2014
RestrictionsOpen all year, but hot in the summer. If you're riding here in the summer months start early in the day. Close gates behind you. Don't wear your favorite socks in late summer and fall as the tall grass in areas is sticky and your socks will pick up all kinds of fun stuff to have to pick out later.
OverviewMany of the trails were originally created by cows, not the dairy ones that get milked ten times a day, but the “happy ones” on the commercials grazing with other cows in the lush green grass (in the winter and spring that is). The terrain consists of tight, technical singletrack which bob and weave through trees, up, over and through rocks and with multiple creek crossings. There’s enough terrain here to keep you busy for the weekend or if you’re like some of the locals in the area, keep you coming back week after week, year after year.
Because of the low elevation, 1,200 feet at the trailhead, Skyline can be ridden any time of the year, but the best time of the year is late winter and spring when the intermittent creek is flowing and everything is green. In the summer everything is the opposite of green and the temperature can be toasty, so if you ride in the summer it’s highly recommended to start early in the morning and afterward dip your sweaty self in the Kaweah River to cool off.
Need To KnowHit the We Three bakery in Three Rivers before your ride for great baked goods/breakfast and coffee. After your ride hit one of the many restaurants such as River View Restaurant & Lounge, Pizza Factory, Casa Mendoza, etc. If you ride in the summer bring your suit and hop in the river afterwards.
DescriptionSkyline is located on good ol BLM land approximately 32 miles east of Visalia off Highway 198 in Three Rivers. Three Rivers is about 213 miles north of Los Angeles and 266 miles south of San Francisco and is the gateway to Sequoia National Park. The land was apparently acquired from private landowners in the late 70’s through a land exchange and today is open to mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians with no public vehicular access. Most of the equestrians and hikers stick to the fire roads as the singletrack is narrow, the terrain is steep and the trees and vegetation is dense in spots.
A popular descent after the four mile climb up the main fire road and 2,500 feet of elevation gain is the Creek Trail to Octupus, to Serpent, to Chutes and Ladders. All of these trails were named by local riders and are fitting once you ride them. The Creek.
The trail takes you along Salt Creek with multiple creek crossings and technical rocky sections and logs to clear while Chutes and Ladders drops you out on an old fire road turned singletrack that is fast and steep. Afterwards, your arms will be burning and brakes smoking. This eight mile route feels more like ten or twelve. There are many other trails to explore.
If you live in California and are looking for some place new to ride, or are just traveling through, take a detour from Highway 99 and check out Skyline you won’t be disappointed.
To get to Skyline exit Highway 198 from Highway 99 heading east through Visalia to Three Rivers. After passing through Three Rivers take a right on Skyline Drive and drive up the narrow windy road, about a mile or so, until it ends and park on the side of the road at the green gate. This is the trailhead where you’ll start and finish. Most riders take the fire road up and then take one of the many trails that branch off from the fire road. Route finding can be difficult your first time so grab a map or contact a local bike shop for more information. A trail map of the area is available on Central California Off-Road Cyclists (CCORC) website at www.ccorc.com/SkylineTrailMap.pdf. For additional information or supplies and repairs visit Sierra Bicycle Werks at 123 E. Main Street in downtown Visalia.
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