“Beatiful singletrack trail through lush sub-alpine forests
— J. Bella
Northside permits cost $10 per day or seasonal permits are available, and can be bought at a kiosk 1/4 mile above the trailhead gate and at some local shops; ridenorthside.com/mountain-…
The Sawmill/Steam Engine Trail is the middle segment of the main route up Bull of the Woods Mountain on Northside's northern trails. Access to this trail begins in the Twining campground parking lot in TSV. Ride up Twining road, turn left on Phoenix Switchback and continue to the entry gate to Northside. There is a trail about 100 feet before the gate on the right. Ride up Bull of the Woods road for a mile or up the Gold Camp Trail
to a junction with the Sawmill trail. Turn left on Sawmill where the singletrack is built into an old mining road. Ascend this trail through mixed conifer forests as it makes a couple turns then climbs out of the forest onto an old road grade. There's a shallow stream crossing where wildflowers are abundant during Summer's peak months. Deer
, ermine, and other forest wildlife are often seen here as well.
The trail continues across the stream and descends about 1/8 mile then climbs into the forest again, feeling a bit more alpine as it twists between older trees, there are some more technical features on this section to keep it fun, with a natural feel. Watch on the left for the old steam engine that was used to fire the smelter when the mines were open during the late 1800's, it's hidden in a small meadow across a stream a little ways below the trail.
The trail leaves the thicker forest and enters some more open meadows, then makes a couple smooth, long switchbacks and joins up with the road just below the Bull of the Woods pastures.
Descending this trail is really fun, the upper section in the trees has a nice flow and requires some technical yet smoothly controlled moves, the open and straight lines are fast with a couple rollovers at the bottom. Most of the trail has good visibility, watch your speed where you can't see far ahead.