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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've heard about a long loop ride starting in Foresthill and heading out Mosquito Ridge road towards French Meadows. I can't seem to find much online about this ride, and I'm wondering if anyone has more specific info - distance, elevation gain, etc. I've heard it's about a 70 mile loop with lots of climbing. The closest thing I could find on here was this description (from this thread):

The other climb in this area that will grab your attention is the Corkscrew Wall at Ralston Powerhouse. As mentioned above take the Mosquito Ridge road out of Foresthill, after descending and crossing the pretty bridge you will begin a short climb that will lead to a right hand turnoff on F.S #23 to Ralston Powerhouse, this is about 11 miles out of Foresthill. A nice tricky descent takes you to Ralston (NOT OXBOW!) where you can begin the 2200 ft, 4 mile climb up the Ralston Ridge road. You can proceed on Ralston Ridge road and ride to French Meadows or Hell Hole, returning either back down the Mosquito Ridge Road to Foresthill or if going to Hell Hole, return back through Georgetown to take Hwy 49 through Cool back to Auburn. There is water at French Meadows in the rest rooms at the boat dock. I would never count on this water being available though.
I'm wondering if the Ralston/FS 23 turnoff is pretty easy to find, and if anyone has any more detailed directions for completing the loop. Thanks a lot for any info/maps anyone can provide.

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
More information on this awesome route!

Well, I'm going to answer my own question, since I went and did this ride on Memorial Day Monday.

If the lack of responses to my post are indicative of a lack of familiarity with this route, people are definitely missing out on a great ride - it's one of the best I've done in Northern California (the only ride I like better is Bear Valley to Markleeville on Hwy. 4).

Basic description:
76 mile lollipop loop through gorgeous Sierra scenery on lightly traveled roads. Mosquito Ridge road gets some traffic (mostly motorcycles) but even on Memorial Day weekend it was pretty light and not much of a distraction. There's a LOT of climbing, probably around 6-7k, with one particularly steep climb up Ralston rd.

We parked at Morton's in Foresthill (on Foresthill Road, just west of the turn off to Mosquito Ridge). Head east on Foresthill for about a mile and turn right on Mosquito Ridge road. Begin a long (about 9 mi.) descent down to a bridge across the river. After the bridge, climb for a little while until the road makes a sharp left, and you see a sign for Ralston Powerhouse - make a right here (FS road 23). Descend steeply for a bit to the river and powerhouse and then... start climbing... and climbing... and climbing. There are three "sections" to the climb, with some brief respites of flatness in between. The overall grade is pretty steep, and every time you think you're done, it throws a bit more at you. You're at the top when you turn around and see a "18% grade" sign in the downhill direction (ie: the opposite of the way you came). Next comes mile and miles of rolling terrain (there's basically nothing flat on this ride). The views keep changing from dense forest to sweeping vistas, it's always beautiful though. You'll pass through a burned out area and then descend towards French Meadows reservoir, where you'll make a left and cross the dam. After this, you'll climb for a bit more and reach the high point of the loop (we had to walk through about 200 feet of snow on May 29) and then begins a 18 mile uninterrupted descent - it's not technical at all, so you're pretty much cruising at 30-35 mph the whole time, without pedaling, and you don't need to touch your brakes once. At the end of the descent, you'll be back at the bridge you crossed over much earlier, and now you've got a 9 mile gradual climb back up to Foresthill road, make a left and you're back where you started.

This ride is highly recommended to anyone who likes climbing in the Sierra at lower elevations than many of the classic Sierra rides. Some caveats: much of the ride is fairly remote, except for the part on Mosquito Ridge road, you might not see any cars at all.

There is NO WATER on the ride - you can fill up from various streams or the reservoir (which is what I did) but there's no faucets out there. I went through about 5 bottles (carried three and filled up two of them en route using Iodine tablets.)

Enjoy!
 

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Yep I know that one well. If your really down for a ride. Hang a right and head twards Goergetown and park at Safeway in Auburn . It'll make it Epic at 112mi and 12,000 ft of climbing. It almost killed a teamate of mine. It was Great. Keep a look out for Aggies/Davis Bike Club. We're almost locals out there.

Garrett
 

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Glad you enjoyed your ride up this way. That's a fun loop, the nine mile climb back out Mosquito will roast you on a hot day.

For another ride, you can skip the right turn to Ralston and instead head up the 18 mile climb you came down on your return. When you hit the summit of that climb, you'll see a left hand turn for "Robinson Flat." It's about five or so miles of dirt road that will climb and lead you to Robinson flat. You can fill up with water at the pump and then take the pavement back down to Foresthill. The pavement back down is all rolling with the last miles having you cruising in a pace line at about 35 miles an hour.

Another loop is to start in Auburn head up to Colfax, take Iowa Hill road to Iowa Hill. Take Big Dipper road after Iowa Hill. Follow the roads all the way toward Sugar pine Dam (it'll T into the same road you were on earlier, Big Dipper is just a much better ride). Head right and follow all the way to Foresthill road. Head right back to Foresthill and back to Auburn. This ride has about 8k of climbing.

If you want to be really sadisitic, loop this one in with the Ralston ride you did. ;0)
 

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A day late and a dollar short...

I did this ride about two years ago (I live above Auburn). The ride is just as you described it. I found the hard part was coming back up Mosquito Ridge Rd. Mid August, hot and no shade. One of the guys wife's meet us before French Meadows so we could stock up on water and get some food into us.

I found Iowa Hill Rd to be more demanding.
 

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Water

There is water available on this ride at about the 32 mile mark (pipe coming out of the hillside on left) and also at the Placer Big Trees grove(half a mile in from Mosquito Ridge) at about 50 miles.Great ride and unbelievable downhills, your neck will hurt from tucking for so long!
 

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Foresthill Local Rider

I've lived in Foresthill over 10 years and ride Mosquito Ridge road frequently. Most of the information in the previous posts is accurate. I'll add a few comments. First off here is a link from one of the motorcycle guys that did a nice report with lots of pictures to give you a better idea of what this area is like (check out all 4 pages)

http://www.pashnit.com/forum/showthread.php?t=57

The full loop to French Meadows lake is a serious ride -be prepared for 75 to 80 miles and around 10,000' of climbing + if you go up the Ralson Ridge you will have some 15%+ grades that will have you standing with a 25 on the back. There are no services until you get back to Foresthill, it is very remote especially on the Ralston Ridge side. Water is available in 4 areas - Nine+ miles from FH near the bridge there is a spring that usually runs most of the year, I drink the water and haven't had any problems... if nothing else this is a good place to wet down your jersery before the last climb out ( 9 miles at 6%) which is very exposed and often is over 100 degrees. If you continue up Mosquito Ridge road and don't turn right on Ralston Ridge there is water at 24+ miles at the Big Trees turn off 1/2 mile from the road ( this drinking fountain is usually turned back on around Memorial Day). If you choose to go out Ralston Ridge, there is a spring with a white pipe on the west side of the road about 40 miles +/- from FH, a few miles before you connect to the road that takes you to French Meadows/ Hell Hole. At this point you will need water, it is 10 miles +/- to the water at French Meadows. The water at French Meadows is available at the boat ramp about two miles in from the dam.

Here's a few suggestions you might want to consider:

As others have said the last 9 mile climb out to FH is exposed an very hot. When I know it is going to be a scorcher I'll drive down to the bridge at the bottom of the hill leave the car, and ride up to FH in the cool morning then ride back out Mosquito Ridge to French meadows and finish my ride at the bridge- jump in the car and turn on the A/C drive back up the hill.

Your first time riding out this way I would recommend riding Mosquito Ridge road out and back ( 70+/- miles R/T to French Meadows). You have the option to turn around at any point ( Big Trees is almost 50 miles and probably 6,000'+ climbing....) The climbs are long ( 9 mile+ and 14+ miles non-stop) mostly in the 6% to 8% range. You also have more access to water, which is much more critical on the Ralston Ridge loop.

Doing the Ralston Ridge loop you are much more commitied - Be prepaired this is a remote area- you need to be self sufficient, and realistic about your abilities. The only water is a long way out ( 3+ hours with some hard climbs) and you WILL need to find it. The corkscrew grade is a real brake burner and not much fun to decend - Ride up Ralson so you get the 18 miles decent down Mosquito Ridge...

This is a great area to ride - in general the traffic is light. However, watch for the motor cycles - most are fine but there are some packs that race by at over 60 mph using every inch of the road. There are lots of turns and blind corners - be prepaired to meet motor homes or trucks with a boat trailers.

Please try and be nice to everyone on the road, we don't need any cycling conflicts...
 

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Finally did this ride yesterday. I've been wanting to do it since I read the post that started this thread. Did the Corkscrew route. Just an awesome ride.

At the spring on the bottom of Mosquito Ridge, I stashed a frozen water bottle. It was a welcome relief when I got back 5 hours later. The Corkscrew reminded me of Hamilton. The hill never ended. Just when I hit the hardest grade, a procession of 5 cars came by and passed me. However, I was rewarded at the top by a cute hawt looking CDF blond. I didn't feel like chatting to her so I just answered a few questions and kept riding.

We regrouped and then took off toward French Meadows. It broke my heart to see the destruction of last years fire. Found the spring and filled up the water bottles. Another rest stop at French Meadows and some of us were cramping as it started getting hot.

The climb began again and it was over soon enough. The downhill run began. Beware of the Tar Sealant on the road. It melts in the sun. I hit one going around 35 mph and thought I was going down like Beloki did in the Tour. I slowed down to about 25 and took then head on. They lasted about about 3 miles.

As expected, my water bottle stash was perfect. A few of drank from the spring too. The 10 mile slog took about an hour. I knew cold beers awaited me at the top. That was my inspiration. Well that and Maria's Taqueria after the beer fest.

I can't wait to do this ride again in the fall.

jps
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
imjps said:
Finally did this ride yesterday. I've been wanting to do it since I read the post that started this thread. Did the Corkscrew route. Just an awesome ride.
jps
Funny timing on your post - I just got back from a Mosquito Ridge/Ralston (corkscrew) ride - it was great, as usual (rode it last weekend too). Man, that ride does kick my butt! The Ralston climb at the beginning seems to sap my strength, and when I look down later to see I've only gone 20 miles and am already tired, I know it's going to be a long ride! It usually takes us about 6 hours car to car, including a few regrouping stops, and a stop at the spring or reservoir for water.

Great ride, and the Ralston route is particularly nice since the last two weekends we have not seen a single car for 35 miles!
 

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Mosquito Road in El Dorado Co.= Different ride...

SadieKate,

The I believe the link in your post shows Mosquito Road on El Dorado county.

Mosquito Ridge road that goes to French Meadows is in Placer county.

FYI - The water at Big Trees has not been turned on this year ( Forestry budget cuts ?)
 

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Really old thread, but wondering more about connecting mosquito ridge route with Robinsons flat and back down forest hill road.

1) Does that mean you ride gravel to link it up and should probably take a gravel bike?
2) Is it actually quicker to go onto Robinsons flat and then have the long descent back to FH and avoid that hot Mosquito Road to FH climb in the afternoon sun?

Thanks,
 
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