I probably wouldn’t try anything new if I didn’t have kids.
So when my 5- and 9-year-old got all interested in mountain biking, I was like…
“Yeah but what if you spook a horse on the trail
we’ll probably spin out in the mud
OK fine let’s try it
…hey guys wait up for me!” Good old FOMO (fear of missing out) got me on the wagon, er, into the van. As it usually does.
Now, I’ll acknowledge it’s nice when Daddy can take the kiddos out someplace and leave me to my own devices. This does not typically mean a spa day or putting on my party dress. More likely, I’ve just got to finish a work project, or tidy up without anyone immediately messing up the vacuum lines. But I do value time with my peeps, and sometimes I’ve got to go outside my comfort zone to get that time.
So a few Saturdays ago we decided to check out the multi-use El Dorado Trail, in Placerville, CA. Currently most of the 28-mile expanse that lies within El Dorado County is “unimproved” but small sections of it are paved. There are plans afoot to extend the trail farther west, and east all the way to Lake Tahoe, and to build up the parts that are currently just train tracks and ballast (gravel).
From our home in Sacramento the trail is up the hill about 40 minutes on Highway 50. We parked at the Wal Mart and started with our bikes on the unpaved trail going west, next to the tracks.
Recent and much-needed rains had thoroughly muddied the trail, but we stayed mostly clean while on or near the tracks. Riding in big chunks of rock can really slow your forward momentum, so to avoid tipping down the sometimes-steep embankment we got off and walked quite a bit in the first half-mile or so.
Finally we found some good mud to spin out in. I learned to ride well back from my daughter, who hasn’t quite mastered the art of standing in the saddle to go uphill. Not that there are many hills. This section of the trail is mainly flat.
We had lunch on the tracks about two miles out from our starting place, then doubled back. We moved at a pretty slow pace and managed to stay mounted, even while bumping over some gnarly roots.
One thing we know from being trail users elsewhere is to watch out for riders on horseback and always yield to them. We didn’t see any equestrians on that day, but we met a few dog-walkers, and a couple of people camping by the trail.
A woman we met near the Wal Mart told us the police had seized her tent in an attempt to make her move along. She’d have to make other plans for the night. We gave her our best wishes and wondered aloud what good it does to confiscate people’s shelter? Ugh. For future reference, I learned there are services for homeless people in Placerville such as transitional housing, though this may not be right for everyone’s needs.
There’s a pedestrian crosswalk from Wal Mart over to the other side of Missouri Flat Road. It makes for a little detour so if you’re impatient to cross, you can jaywalk I guess. (Yes, that’s what we did.)
For three miles on the east side of Missouri Flat Road up to the intersection with Forni Road the trail is paved, and much more heavily traveled. We went only about one mile, to the bridge at Weber Creek where there’s a gorgeous overlook.
Couples apparently like this spot too, and some choose to proclaim their love by leaving padlocks engraved with their names, initials, and/or significant dates on the bridge.
We headed back tired and splattered but grateful for a beautiful day out and a ride that challenged us all in various ways.
Have a recommendation for what ride we should try next? Share in the comments!