17.1 miles
2,886 ft
-2,875 ft
1 mile
High Point

Nice loop in the Grouse Ridge area. Climbs a paved forest road to dirt road access to the lake. Some smooth and lots of tech to follow. Expect hike a bike duration depending on ability. Many opportunities for playing around on granite along Spaulding Lake Trail. And it's all stunningly beautiful.

Detailed Description
Blue Lake Loop is a 17 mile popular extreme route located near Nevada City California. This mountain bike only route and has a hard overall physical rating. This route includes 6 trails. This route climbs 2,886 ft with a max elevation of 6,312 ft then descends -2,875 ft.
Route Supporters
Local Trail Association
Local trail association
Bicyclists of Nevada County (www.bonc.org)
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23 Reviews & Comments

  • + 1
deln78 (Jul 16, 2022 at 17:38)
Great trail! A lot of effort to get to and from, unfortunately, and the reward is only about 1mile of goodness. Felt like an easy double black. It is not that steep, so it doesn't feel too scary. Some of the comments here made me think it was going to be a lot harder than it was.
  • + 1
deln78 (Jul 16, 2022 at 16:45)
Like many others have posted, frustrating, flat, janky cross-country and hike-a-bike that goes on forever. Too bad this is pretty much mandatory if you want to ride Grouse Ridge Trail, which is excellent.
  • + 1
jdargg (Jul 21, 2020 at 13:12)
@Rideon12 thanks! I’ll go ride it tomorrow. Not sure if it’s legal to post phone numbers but could you shoot me a text at (703) 895-5521 so I can get a bit more details? Thanks! Will delete this post in a few hours if I don’t here from you so my number isn’t out floating around
  • + 0
jdargg (Jul 16, 2020 at 16:51)
Lost my SWAT door for my stumpjumper out here (looks like a black plastic 3x5). Went searching for it the next day and couldn’t find it. Also confirmed my hatred for this trail.
  • + 3
Rideon12 (Jul 21, 2020 at 12:52)
I saw your SWAT door out on the trail on Sunday the 19th. If heading east on the trail it is on the right hand side, easily visible (looks like someone placed it there) seems like it was about 2 miles in near where the lake ends on the east side. I thought perhaps its owner was on the trail so I left it but if you want it it is out there. Might ride again on Friday and can bring it out to the gate if it is still there.
  • + 1
WillieB (Jul 12, 2020 at 9:19)
Nice trail, would honestly label it as a blue -especially compared to the sections of trail above and up towards Grouse Ridge. All easily rideable in the downhill direction, but be ready for a couple rouge spots of strenuous up.
  • + 0
SCflyer (Jul 5, 2020 at 7:29)
The complete package save for lack of serious gnar (unless you ride it west to east and hit that mother of all HABs downhill). I'm a mediocre but veteran rider and would have to disagree with the above comments about how this trail lacks flow. While it's not flowy in a traditional sense, it most definitely isn't a dab fest. I usually get to this trail at the tail end of a big day at Grouse when I'm at the edge of bonking and the only pesky section that I recall is that massive uphill HAB that I referred to above and even that is getting an official bypass. True that route-finding in the open granite section can be challenging but for the most part, this trail is a nice representation of trails in the whole area, raw and beautiful. Only gripe is lack of signage once you get to the flume, easy to get lost there if you've never ridden it before.
  • + 1
WillieB (Jun 29, 2020 at 10:41)
Several shit sections can be avoided by freeriding north onto slabs for 1/4 mile or so. Trail lines in the vegetation and other bike tracks make me think I'm not the only one who has paid attention to these shortcuts. Can help eliminate most of the hike-a-bike if you're attentive and creative.
  • + 1
WillieB (Jul 12, 2020 at 9:25)
Changed my rating to 5 stars after riding it again. Honestly one of the best trails around, but will take a few laps to figure out all of the ride-arounds and tech line routes that make it 99% rideable semi-flow. Patience patience. Who needs Moab when you've got slabs like this?!
  • + 1
WillieB (Jun 28, 2020 at 21:28)
Reminds me of the tech section of Mr Toads, just jankier. Then it lets up into some dream slabs. Amazing trail.
  • + 1
WillieB (Jul 12, 2020 at 9:29)
Gets better and easier with a few laps to figure out the lines!
  • + 1
WillieB (Jun 28, 2020 at 21:25)
Very fun, but where was the loam?
  • + 1
chrisjeans (Nov 15, 2019 at 17:11)
Fun trail in both directions. Not too technical but there's a lot of loose chunk which gets a bit sketchy on the switchbacks.
  • + 2
chrisjeans (Nov 15, 2019 at 17:04)
Awesome trail - if you like chunk and wilderness. Some hike-a-bike, mostly at the Eastern end. Varied terrain - granite slabs, rock gardens, tight singletrack through dense forest. Rode as an out and back from Bowman Road, it was hard work in both directions but a lot of fun.
  • + 1
whoisadam (Sep 6, 2018 at 13:11)
This part of Grouse was a blast it had speed, rocks, flow, loam, fun logs to boost off of. It was a nice degree of difficulty where could enjoy it and not feel you might die Smile Enjoy this section because when you come to the Double Black Section of Grouse things are going to get a lot more hectic. This part of the trail starts at 1:01 - 1:35 of the video Entitled "Grouse Ridge" posted under the video tab. Its true further down the trail logging has begun and its all torn up and hard to find the trail, we found it with a bit of searching, if you use common sense and your instinct on where you think it would go you shall find it. Its off to the left.
  • + 1
mtbingadventures (Sep 19, 2018 at 9:38)
BONC fixed up that part of the trail that got torn up by the loggers. I helped out a bit and got to ride it. It's great and I can't wait to do that again.
  • + 2
whoisadam (Sep 6, 2018 at 12:55)
I agree with the above comment. This is a hard trail, at first you don't think its going to be hard but then it picks up in difficulty. It is like your riding down a dry river bed of rocks through the forest. I ended up cleaning it for the most part 1st time down with one dab/bike drop. You can see the downhill for this section in the video titled "grouse ridge" starting at the 1:36 mark. I yell lots and cuss because it was intense. Its hard to see the lines, its full commitment, letting off the brakes and trusting your bike and its physically demanding because it doesn't let up for a bit.
  • + 1
mtbingadventures (Aug 13, 2018 at 15:48)
Not to many places you can find a fast downhill loamy section in this area. Awesome fun and highly recommend it if you have the endurance to get there.
  • + 2
mtbingadventures (Aug 13, 2018 at 15:46)
One of the most challenging lines I have ever done. I can ride a good portion of it but have not been able to clean it all the way. Serious pay to play trail here.
  • + 3
bkxc (Jul 9, 2018 at 15:16)
Who knew we had loam in California?
  • - 2
Joshbibbee (Jun 22, 2018 at 10:52)
This is a serious hike-a-bike. This trail wasn’t enjoyable. At most, I only rode .25mi before stopping. Trail has some fallen trees. Not my type of riding. Agree with previous comment.
  • - 2
Sheady (Jun 9, 2018 at 7:10)
They should rename this thing “go fund me”,
because it needs one. I like a techy trail as much as the next guy, but even a tech jedi would have to ride this thing 5-6 time to ring any flow out of it, and no one is going to do that. This trail is what hike-a-bike nightmares are made of, each dismount thinking “maybe it gets better around this corner, or THIS corner.... THIS CORNER?!” With a lot of TLC this trail could be great, beautiful setting, nice geographic changes. In its current state, it’s a pretty lousy experience.
  • + 1
hisdudeness47 (Jun 4, 2018 at 8:45)
I'd consider myself an intermediate rider, and there's certainly some easier sections, mainly towards Blue Lake, but using this trail to connect up to Beyers Lakes was the worst ride of my life. I was hiking/carrying my bike constantly, including parts of this trail. Rocky, muddy, rutted, creek crossings, steep, loose rock/needles. Not fun. I was so exhausted I couldn't even enjoy it on the way down, and got off for rocky/steep sections even coming down because I was solo, on the verge of collapse, and the sun was going down because the ride took so much longer than expected. Needed to be safe. Maybe this is more a function of my fitness level, but I thought I was relatively fit before I did this out and back. Anyway, not very flowy on the way down and not much fun for me. I'll be back for backpacking this though, for the destination (Beyers Lakes) was awesome. This will be the first and last time I ride this, but I'll absolutely be back to backpack.


  • Riding area
  • Primary Activity
    Mountain Bike
  • Difficulty rating
    Double Black Diamond
  • Route Type
  • Bike type
  • Physical rating
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More Stats for Blue Lake Loop mountain bike route
  • Altitude min
    4,466 ft
  • Altitude start
    4,466 ft
  • Altitude end
    4,475 ft
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    8 miles
  • Distance down
    7 miles
  • Distance flat
    2 miles
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Trail Conditions
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Recent Trail Reports Along Route

Pioneer Trail--Lang's Crossing to Spaulding Lake Tr.
Jul 16, 2022 @ 10:00pm
Jul 16, 2022
It’s hot out there and the trail is dusty dry except for the stream crossings which are actually flowing nicely.
Blue Lake Trail Access Road
Jul 18, 2021 @ 12:35pm
Jul 18, 2021
trail next to blue lake was rough and almost non existent, better for hiking,
Spaulding Lake Trail
Jun 19, 2021 @ 9:26pm
Jun 19, 2021
4 trees down across the trail in separate places along the "lower" half of the trail (towards Pioneer). Dry except for a few stream crossings and puddles. I can't speak for anything past 2.6 miles from the Pioneer Trail
Grouse Ridge Trail: Blue Lake Trail to Lookout
Oct 31, 2020 @ 11:23am
Oct 31, 2020
Super dusty but still running fast reporter
Grouse Ridge Trail: Spaulding Lake Trail to Blue Lake Trail
Jun 28, 2020 @ 11:03am
Jun 28, 2020
Trail rules, bring A game
more reports »
  • By Redhawk BONC STC & contributors
  • #4633 - 3,241 views