“Pure singletrack fun that will punch you in the face but leave you smiling.”
— Dan Oakland
Lots of private paths deviating from the main trail, stick to the signed trail.
The Arnold Rim Trail has its own website at arnoldrimtrail.org/
where you can get an intimate "local" perspective on the trail and read about how IMBA got involved with the town of Arnold to create this trail, and their plans to expand it to a complete loop. Although close to town, there is a real sense of adventure to this trail.
Need to Know
While I highly recommend this ride, the climbs from either direction to Manuel Peak are face-punchers. Out from the Museum @ about 3.5 miles you'll hit 'The Beast': +500ft in 1/4 mile and HAB for most. Not as bad in the other direction.
I also suggest getting a copy of the trail map at the Ranger Station in Hathaway Pines & BRING IT on the ride. The map is marked with several post #s that you'll see along the trail and has a contour profile to help identify not only where you are, but what is coming up.
Arnold is about 1.5 hours S & E from Sacramento or 1 hr straight east from Stockton in the foothills of the Sierras off Hwy 4. The trail can be ridden as an out & back, or as a shuttle with multiple jumping-off points. I rode this as an out & back from the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum for 8 miles, then re-tracing back.
From the logging museum (worth a look) for about .8 miles you'll be on a paved Americans with Disabilities Act Path. Be wary of hikers. Once on the dirt, you'll be on lush, sweeping, rolling singletrack. Soak it in while you can, but do *NOT* get lulled in because at about 3.5 miles in you're going to meet 'The Beast' and the trail heads up roughly 500ft in about 1/4 mile of loose dirt. A fantastic westward view awaits you at the top.
From here you'll head to the actual top of Manuel Peak and Cougar Rock, great views looking east or west. Dropping down from Cougar rock you'll get back to the similar lush rolling trail that you saw early on.
Post #32 marks the end of Singletrack at about 8.4 miles. This is the turn around point to keep on singletrack. It's another 2.4 to Avery Sheep Ranch Rd (2nd most common jumping-off point) but all Fire Road from here.
History & Background
The logging museum is an interesting look at the areas history and the machines lumberjack's use. As noted, the trail's web site talks about its history but also the future goals to turn this in to a complete 35 mile loop. Support the town at the Snowshoe Brewery, you'll thank me.