“Rolling through conifer forests and oak woodlands across historic ditch lines, explore California's Gold Rush past.
— Alan Seegmiller
Race - Jun 9, 2018
For a family ride, look at starting and ending at East Weaver Campground. The easiest route is an out-and-back along the creek for a total of two miles.
No closures. Sections can get muddy in the winter.
As a fundraiser to help build a bike park in Weaverville, CA, the Trinity Trail Alliance is bringing back the LaGrange Classic Mountain Bike Race in both short course and long course formats. From the short course start, it's a quick traverse through the 2014 burn scar and into the oaks, where you'll find a kiosk describing the impact of an earlier prescribed fire. Next, climb up through the prescribed burn to the Howe Ditch Trail
via the heavily wooded area of 10 Cent Gulch. Eventually, you'll leave Howe Ditch and make your way to Serenity Ditch, which contains water much of the year, making for sweet relief from the summer heat.
After a sun-exposed approach, the East Weaver Campground heralds the best entry point to the East Weaver Creek Trail
after crossing the year-round East Weaver Creek on a wide bride. The creek provides plenty of water for the plants and trees to compete for space with this singletrack climb up to the pole bridge. Cross the bridge and begin the best downhill stretch this course has to offer. The Day Ranch Trail
is one of the best gems in the Weaver Basin Trail System and this is where it starts.
The course makes its way back to Howe Ditch, but this time keep going past 10 Cent Gulch. Keep an eye out for the left-hand drop at Teacher's Rock and bomb back down to Garden Gulch. Not long now and you'll be sprinting for the finish.
A lot of roots in the trail? Not so much. Rock gardens? Occasionally. Sandy? What's that? Here you'll get lots of smooth flowing, hard-packed trails with an occasional rock to clip your pedal on or a tree to grab your handlebars. What more do you want in a beginner to intermediate course?
Need to Know
As noted in the description, Garden Gulch Creek is crossed twice at the same point. This is a seasonal creek that will likely have water in June and is covered in round river rock.
Serenity Ditch will likely have water in June but is a trivial crossing.
Here is one local's play-by-play description of the LaGrange Classic short course. At 2,125 feet, the start and finish are on Weaver Bally Road
, a Forest Service road that is open year round. After only 0.1 miles (up to 6% grade), the singletrack begins.
At one mile from the start is Garden Gulch Creek. Although seasonal, expect some water in June in this rocky creek. There is no bridge, but there is a bunch of river rock. Fortunately the creek bed can be ridden across. This creek will be crossed a second time on the way back to the finish line.
Since the start of the race, the course is sun exposed, traversing a burn scar. At mile 1.5, the 2014 wildfire hit a previously burned area and stopped. Did you notice the informational kiosk that you passed? Now the first climb is set to begin as you enter the 10 Cent Gulch area and the oaks. Awww, shade.
With grades up to 15%, 10 Cent Gulch climbs up to Howe Ditch, 2.3 miles from the start. No, you are not imagining it; the oaks really are arching over the trail from both sides.
Now that you are on Howe Ditch, it's easy street. The hydraulic gold miners needed water. To get that water, they built miles of ditches. Howe Ditch is one of many moving water to the mines. There is no longer any water in this ditch. Just a gentle climb as you go, what would have been upstream to Jackass Ridge.
Once on Jackass Ridge at mile 3.4, it will just be 100 feet on this closed road to the Upper Howe Ditch and back to singletrack. For the next 1.6 miles, watch out for trees and rocks that will want to clip a part of your bike. Obscure even by local standards, Upper Howe Ditch will be among the most technical riding of the course with very few passing opportunities. Also along this section will be the transition from oaks to conifers.
Upper Howe Ditch ends at mile five, dumping the rider onto the East Weaver Creek Trail
. East Weaver Creek Trail
is one of the longer trails in the Weaver Basin. The course traverses various sections of this trail, in both directions, transporting riders to different areas of the basin. This particular section is doubletrack with lots of room for passing.
It won't last for long because at mile 5.1 is the start of the Serenity Ditch Spur, a short little downhill to Serenity Ditch, which does contain water for most of the year. If you happen to ride this section in late June or August, budget some time to pick a few blackberries.
Alas, all good things come to an end and Serenity Ditch has its end at Rainbow-Hansen Trail
. How can that be a bad thing? Well, it's sun exposed and a 10% climb (in sections) back up to the East Weaver Creek Trail
. Stay on East Weaver Creek Trail
and it won't be long until you drop down to the campground and the trail's namesake, East Weaver Creek. This year round creek is lush. You'll cross this creek twice, but don't worry there is a nice wide bridge at each crossing. From the campground, the route goes upstream for one mile to the pole bridge.
Cross back over the creek, to the course's highlight, the Day Ranch Trail
. You'll need to go a short distance from the pole bridge to reach the highest point (2,971 feet) of the race, which is 7.3 miles from the race start. Then it is a sweet downhill until Day Ranch Trail
ends, back at East Weaver Creek Trail
. Writing anything more about the Day Ranch Trail
does it and you a disservice as you really should be out riding it, not reading about it.
Back on East Weaver Creek Trail
at mile 8.9, rolling doubletrack takes you back out to Jackass Ridge at mile 10.2. Race down Jackass and back to Howe Ditch at mile 10.7. Howe Ditch crosses the basin to Teacher's Rock. The drop down Teacher's Rock is perhaps the steepest downhill at 13% and returns the rider to Garden Gulch Creek, the same crossing as at the start of the race. At this point, the route retraces itself back to Weaver Bally Road
after which the course crosses the road to Sydney Gulch Road and the final downhill sprint to the finish line.
History & Background
Weaverville, CA, was part of California's famous gold rush. The trails of the Weaver Basin Trail System rely heavily upon the ditch lines the miners created to route water to their hydraulic mines. In addition to the ditch lines, there are many places in the basin to find remnants left behind by the miners.