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You still have about 2000 ft of climbing on your way, but descending Big Boulder is pure bliss!

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7,481' 2,280 m


2,901' 884 m


1,498' 457 m


5,662' 1,726 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (29°)

Dogs Leashed

E-Bikes Allowed


This ride from Packer Saddle starts on the new Gold Valley Rim Trail, for some truly excellent singletrack. The Big Boulder trail is arguably the best descent toward Downieville off Packer Saddle shuttle drop off, but you'll have to do a little climbing to earn your descent. Less skilled riders will have a tough time with the down trail, but those with advanced skills who love fast, flowing, long, continuous descents will be itching for another lap.

Need to Know

The navigation is a little tricky as there is no signage for Big Boulder until you cross Pauley Creek, so until then follow the directions for Pauley creek. Then you have to be mindful of the unmarked fork about half way through the climb where you take a left, I believe the marker says OHV trail or something similar for the trail to the left whereas it says nothing for the section going straight. When in doubt, use the MTB Project mobile app!


Pick up the trail at Packer Lake Saddle (intersection of County Route 621 and Butcher Ranch Rd.), just a short distance from the shuttle drop off at the top of Sunrise Trail. (It will be down the hill from the shuttle drop off. The shuttle drives past it on its way to Sunrise Trail.)

Gold Valley Rim Trail starts with a gradual climb to obtain the ridge where you are rewarded with sweeping views of the Lakes Basin. After riding along the ridge, the trail crosses a couple small service roads where it then deviates from the old PCT and begins to drop down toward "Baby Heads" on new singletrack. The descent is on par with the many great descents in the Downieville trail system with plenty of rocky technical sections. The trail crosses over several sections of rock slab that gives you a little taste of Moab riding, Sierra style. Look out for a great optional slab descent feature about 4.7 miles in.

The trail ends at an intersection with Forest Service Road 93-3. Follow signs straight to continue on to "Baby Heads" and the start of Pauley Creek /Big Boulder trails.

Once you cross Pauley Creek (it's a large meadow), you'll climb out of the creek and then watch for the Big Boulder turn off on your right. Keep climbing until you come to another fork. The trail you want to take is the option on the left; there is a sign proclaiming it an OHV trail; that's the only confirmation you'll have once heading towards Big Boulder.

You'll begin a well-earned descent here, and one that is as much fun as you can find anywhere in the Downieville area. The trail is fast, flowy, a little technical, and a little dangerous. You'll head through exposed sections and through the woods, FAST. Big Boulder ends at Third Divide for some more fast downhill flow. It's all ripping fun until you get to Lavezolla Road and head toward First Divide.

From Lavezolla Road, you'll come to an obvious open area just before the fire road starts upward, where First Divide (upper portion) sneaks off to the right. Look for a little sign that says "Trail" with an arrow. First Divide is relatively flat/descending singletrack, pedaling most of the way. At times it's quite narrow with a rock face wall on one side and a drop off small cliff on the other.

At the end, you can cross the fire road and continue onto First Divide (lower portion), which will be a singletrack on your right. The First Divide (lower portion) is rocky singletrack mostly along a rock edge, with a small bit of climbing. It's a short stretch, but technical in spots, so be particularly attentive. The difference here is that if you go off trail, it's a long way down.

This last portion puts you onto a paved road, which you'll follow mostly downhill about a mile back to Downieville.


Shared By:

Michael Klimek with improvements by Jessica Rockson and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 19 votes


in Gold Valley


  4.6 from 19 votes
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20 Views Last Month
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Get your butt to Downieville!
Jun 29, 2016 near Downiev…, CA
Fast and smooth section of Third Divide Trail.
Sep 2, 2014 near Downiev…, CA
A rescue backboard is strategically located at the intersection of Third Divide, Big Boulder, the Butcher Trail, and Second Divide.
Dec 15, 2015 near Downiev…, CA
Sierra Buttes vista from Gold Valley Rim Trail
Jun 13, 2018 near Clio, CA
Amazing rest spot 20 feet off the trail just after all the hard climbing and eroded cobblestone descents. This is somewhere close to the top of the second ascent. Lots of fun on a fat bike with suspension. (Suspension is a must!)
Jun 13, 2018 near Downiev…, CA
Third Divide getting loosey-goosey.
Dec 15, 2015 near Downiev…, CA


Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


Oct 25, 2023
Jay Austin
Nov 22, 2021
Niko Rochet
Oct 2, 2021
Mike Dahlquist
Aug 1, 2020
Jason Harbinson
Great time on an eBike. Much for fun and challenging than the classic. 21.7mi — 2h 20m
Sep 22, 2019
Dan C
Sep 2, 2019
DnC Twohig
Really enjoyed Gold Rim Trail & 3rd/1st divide, but was disappointed in Big Boulder - it's doubletrack all the way. 22mi — 3h 35m
Jul 25, 2019
Chris Wyatt
21.3mi — 2h 34m
Nov 3, 2018
Jonathan Coupal

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