A nice loop ride starting on Burnside Lake Road
(Junction CA 88 & 89) or from Sorenson's Resort. Most of this ride is on doubletrack some of which is open to vehicles (traffic generally not an issue). Hope Valley is a hidden gem and a great escape from the crowds at Lake Tahoe just 20 miles north. Lots of shade and trees with a decent amount of climbing over the 8+ mile loop. For a longer ride go out and back to Burnside Lake before taking the turnoff to Sorenson's. This area can get a lot of snow in the winter and is a popular x-country skiing location but may be rideable in a low snow year. There is plenty of free camping nearby or just splurge and stay at Sorenson's Resort.
Need to Know
Hope Valley Cafe just a few miles down canyon from Sorenson's has some amazing pie and some decent beers on tap. Great place to hang with friends after a ride.
Start this ride at Pickett's Junction (Where CA 88 & 89 meet in Hope Valley). It's a long steady climb up the unpaved forest road 31019 (open to vehicles seasonally) toward Burnside Lake through a beautiful alpine forest. The loop back to Sorenson's takes a left on road 31053 about 3 miles in (before reaching Burnside). The trail will become less traveled and continue to climb as it contours around Pickett's Peak with glimpses of Hope Valley to the north and west.
Eventually the loop back to Sorensons (and the downhill) will bear left on 31053B. The trail gets progressively steeper and looser narrowing down to singletrack as it approaches the valley floor. Since it's a loop, you'll get to enjoy the rewards of the over 1,300' of climbing on the way back down.
The trek will dump you out on CA 88 just west of Sorenson's. It's about a half mile ride on the wide shoulder up the road to get back to the parking area at Pickett's Junction.
The ride can also be done clockwise but expect a steep loose climb out of the canyon from Sorenson's resort.