That plea kept spinning in my head, and we needed a plan for the three days of hot weather on Memorial Day weekend.
Then we got the call to meet at a classified rendezvous point in Mi Wuk Village, located a short drive below Pinecrest. I knew some much-needed chill time was in our future.
With dozens of outdoor hotspots closed, including Pinecrest Lake and Cleo’s Bath Trail, we had to get creative in these crazy times. So we loaded up the kids, a couple of Clydesdale dads and some dirt-thirsty bikes to head up Crabtree Road past Dodge Ridge.
You can navigate this ride as a loop but figure paved road riding for about half the journey. That’s where a shuttle scenario proved to be valuable for the kiddos and for maximizing time on dirt trails.
Just before Aspen Meadow Pack Station, make a hard right onto a short forest road that takes you literally to the top of the world and the beginning of Crabtree Trail. The view was an auspicious sign of a trail that conjured up hoots and hollers the entire way down.
Within seconds of blastoff, you hit a series of drops and jumps that quickly descend into a blur of granite and greenery flashing past every corner.
I would classify this 5.8-mile downhill as challenging terrain that has enough banks, logs rides, creek dips, bumps and other trail features to keep experienced bikers holding their breath. But like all things in life, taking it slow and easy proved to be the solution for the junior riders. As my youngest stated: “Take the first lap SLOW, then on the second and third, let it FLOW.” I couldn’t have said it better.
Using a two-vehicle shuttle system allowed us to take multiple laps every day. Perma-grins were contagious in our group, as each new lap has us riding faster and with more confidence.
For mountain bikers with local knowledge, you have a lot of choices in and around Pinecrest and Dodge Ridge Ski Area. I need more field R&D time to learn the area, unless someone who is an expert emails me.
If shuttling, leave a vehicle at the junction of Dodge Ridge Road and FS-4N689Y near the North Fork of the Tuolumne River (near Camp Oski sign).
Just when you think you’ve found the next best trail, along comes a new place to raise your spirits in these unprecedented times. Go explore a new place, say hello, help others, do the right thing, be good to yourself and get outside.
- Where: Pinecrest
- What: Crabtree Trail (downhill single-track)
- Distance: 5.8 miles (downhill only)
- Elevation loss: 1,896 feet
- Time: 55 minutes (downhill only)
- Difficulty: “Hoot & Holler” factor of 8
- Trailhead: Junction of Crabtree Road & Forest Route 4N25 (near Aspen Meadow Pack Station)
- Closures: Most recreational trailheads and lakes closed, but these trails were open
Contact Kevin Parker with comments or questions by email at LukeHollywood@gmail.com