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Big Boulder from Butcher Ranch Trailhead



19.8 mile 31.9 kilometer point to point
70% Singletrack


Ascent: 1,516' 462 m
Descent: -5,221' -1,592 m
High: 6,839' 2,085 m
Low: 2,897' 883 m


Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 38% (21°)


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Trail shared by Leslie Kehmeier

With a little bit of climbing, you can experience the best descent in Downieville!

Leslie Kehmeier

This has been hidden from our maps to prevent overlap with existing trails, or because our research has found there is no legal access.

Electric Mountain Bikes Allowed

Features -none-


This ride from Butcher Ranch Trailhead starts on a fire road, but leads to some truly excellent singletrack. The Big Boulder Trail is arguably the best descent toward Downieville, 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!


At the top of the Butcher Trailhead, head out north on the fire road and stay on it (don't stray at any intersection) until you get to the Pauley Creek turn off. Once you cross Pauly 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 is an OHV trail; that's the only confirmation you'll have once heading towards Big Boulder.

At the very top of the climb, you can practice pedal kicks off the fallen log or hike up to the ridge for some photos. Then pad up and enjoy the long, fast, and flowing descent toward Third Divide. There is one punchy climb, in the beginning of the ride, you'll likely walk it unless you're the 1%. It's all ripping fun until you get to Lavezolla Road and head toward First Divide.

At the intersection of Third Divide, you may want to head uphill instead of down to connect with Second Divide.

From the end of the route, take a left and pedal back to Downieville.


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Dec 8, 2000
Marcel Mijares

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 1 vote


in Gold Valley


  5.0 from 1 vote
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25 Views Last Month
1,042 Since Aug 25, 2016



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
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
Fun fast descent - Third Divide Trail
Sep 30, 2015 near Downiev…, CA
Downieville Classic Trail guide.
Sep 23, 2018 near Downiev…, CA


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