Salmon Falls, also known as the Darrington Trail, is part of the 'Auburn State Recreation Area' and is maintained by 'FATRAC'.
This trail is suited for all levels of riders, as long as a beginner rides carefully, expecting to walk through some of the more technical sections... The most technical section being the first mile!
Your first obstacle will be a short, steep, loose climb, followed by a twisty, steep, loose decent. At the end of the decent, you'll be on a tight, twisty, cliff-side single track that overlooks the South Fork of the American River... Careful, it's about 50 feet down!
Enough of the scary stuff... The rest of the ride meanders along the river, with a few trips inland to cross a stream or two, and is rideable by most everyone. There are several hills that may challenge the Beginner-Intermediate, but nothing major.
You'll find the trail-head, on the left-end of the upper parking lot. After a right turn, you will see the first hill... Climb and descend this, to get to ledge trail above the river.
Follow this trail, which will wind in and out of the woods several times, to reach the first water crossing.
The first crossing is straight-down and straight-back-up the other side and into a clearing... You'll want to stay to the left. Your next crossing is a popular spot to turn around and/or have a sport bar before heading on.
Alright, it's time to pull-up your bike shorts and get back on your bike! You have two choices...
Turn left, for more of the same, which will eventually turn into fire roads and onto the Peninsula Camp Ground, for water and/or another break before the ride back.
Turn right, for a climb up to Flagstaff Mountain... On a clear day, you'll get a great view of Folsom Lake and the Sierras.
Assuming that you have chosen the 2nd option... Continue up, ignoring the left turns, through the old green gate... Keep climbing. When you think you're at the top, turn to your left and keep climbing!
When you reach the top, look for a buckshot car carcass. If you stand on the front bumper and look to the northwest, a vague trail will be apparent, through the manzanita. Portage your bike, for about 25 feet, and you will be on the Mickey Mouse Trail', which I hear was named after a doll that was stuck in the manzanita for a while.
From here, it's a technical knuckle dragger, down to the main trail... NOT recommended for beginners! When you come out on the fire road, go right for about 1/2 mile and then look to the left, for more downhill single track... Leading down to the main trail.
Another route, up to Flagstaff Mountain, is by riding out of 'Peninsula Camp Ground' on the paved road, past the pay station and on up the road. A ways up the road, on the right, there will be a white gate to pass through, to access the top of the mountain... Or, stay to the left and hit the trail down, back to the original stream crossing and eventually to the start.
You'll find the trail-head, on the left-end of the upper parking lot.
Note: You will encounter several cattle gates, along the trail... Please be sure to close them, after you pass through.
Sacramento's Most Traveled MTB Trail:
If you are visiting Sacramento and ask anyone; "Where is the closest MTB ride?"... 99% of the time, you'll get directed to Salmon Falls.
Location: East of Sacramento, near El Dorado Hills
(Salmon Falls Bridge / South Fork of the American River)
Distance: 16-20 miles
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous, mildly technical, technical sections
Skill Level: Intermediate / advanced
Elevation: 500' gain / loss
Ride Type: Out and back
Trail Type: Single track & fire roads
How To Get There:
From Sacramento, take US-50 eastbound, to the El Dorado Hills exit. Go north, on El Dorado Hills Blvd. Note: At the intersection of Green Valley Road, El Dorado Hills Blvd. becomes Salmon Falls Road.
Continue for approximately 6 miles and cross the Salmon Falls Bridge. You'll find the trail-head, out of the upper parking lot, on the left.
Note: If you park in any of the paved lots, be sure that you pay the $2.00 parking fee, as you can expect to be the recipient of an expensive ticket if you don't!