Pacos Truckee


On the Radar: Mills Peak Trail


This time of year, many of us feel the need to reach beyond our typical Tahoe riding routes to stretch out our perspectives. One of the first areas to explore is the Lakes Basin Recreation Area. The areas most coveted event and route is the well-known Downieville Classic however, the overshadowed and less ridden Mills Peak Trail boasts great views, fresh air, fewer tires, and a tangly ribbon of deep forested berms that drop you into nearby Graeagle, California.


New this year is a 1.7 mile section of trail that cuts out the teeth-shattering jeep road decent about mid-point in the trail.  Now 100% single track. Yuba Expeditions and Downieville Outfitters hosts a daily shuttle to the top. 


Grab a trail map from Graeagle Market then head out to where HWY 89 intersects Gold Lakes HWY, stay focused on spotting the single track beginning immediately along the left side at the start of Gold Lakes HWY from CA HWY 89 just passed the initial dirt parking turnout. Mills Peak Trail will take you up 3,033 feet to Mills Peak Fire Lookout where you can enjoy views of Gold Lake, Packard Saddle, Sierra Valley and more. This trail is far enough away from massive counts of trail riders leaving the moon dust on course – not in the air.

Mills Peak Trail has a great rolling flow, tons of tight, rocky and smooth lines. It’s screaming to be ridden, just hold your line and keep centered on trail. If you’re looking for a few rock slabs, occasional natural bumps and an A-grade 3,000 foot ascent/descent then pen this trail in on your to-do list right above the stop off at nearby Brewing Lair. The sooner you ride it, the better. You can shuttle it if you must, or embrace the burn and push the pedals around all the way up to the fire lookout.

Special note: this is real mountain bike trail. Not to say it’s hard core or anything like that, it’s just the real deal where speed makes for fun – makes for consequences followed by high fives and fist pumps. Thanks to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship for this great trail. These guys are building remarkable mountain biking routes in Northern California.

Matt ChappellPacos