Fall Color Spectacular
We just got back from the Fall Color Ride organized by BLM at the end of October on the Biz Johnson. We met at the Railroad Depot in Susanville at 8am on Saturday and loaded bikes in a truck and about 20 people in a very nice bus. They drove us up to the top of the trail at Mason Station while Stan Bale from BLM, who has been a 30 year champion of the Biz, filled us in on the history of the line and trail.
The first 10 miles are slightly up grade or down through a pine forest, without much color, and you do have to keep an eye out for rocks. We never encountered any loose sand or gravel that gave us any trouble riding hybrids.
From the first of twelve Susan River crossings 2.5 miles above Goumaz, the ride is easy and spectacular with lots of color and beautiful rock cliffs as you crisscross the Susan and pass through two great tunnels on your way down to the Depot.
We started riding at 10am, had a nice lunch at the Goumaz rest area, and stopped many times to take pictures and enjoy the view. We were back to our car at 3pm. One Hint: after you cross the longest trestle at Devils Corral there is a sign directing you down a steep grade to pass under Hy 36. Instead, you can stay on the rail grade, open AND close a large green gate, and walk carefully across the highway and right back on to the trail. Much easier.
Great trail, unlike any I've ever ridden. Started in Susanville on a beautiful November day. The caboose trail head has ample parking & an interpretive to give a little background. The trail gets off to a gravelly start but soon turns into a packed gravel/dirt/mixed hard-pack sand surface. Perfect for mountain bikes, hybrids or cross bikes, which is what I rode on this ride - a road bike would be torture. Riding up grade, you can tell you're going up, if barely perceptible, but it isn't too taxing. The scenic beauty is great - you have the clear river running alongside, basalt cliffs & rock/boulder fields, hard wood, pine & cedar forests, meadows spreading out here & there. The trail crosses numerous bridges & through two cold, dark tunnels. There are plenty of handmade wooden benches to when you want to take a break, lots of paths down to the river if you want to fish or take a dip & mileage markers all along so you always know exactly where you are on the trail. I turned around at the 21-mile mark & then it was back down & you realize that you really were going up hill – it’s a breeze coming back. This is a wonderful trail for any type of rider, young or old or anywhere in between.
a must do!
We followed the advice from other reviews and road west to east. Recommend parking in Westwood close to Shell station (intersection of 38 and A21) if you are staying in Susanville (recommend - nice small Museum, beautiful murals around town, eat at The White House and Pioneer Lodge/Lassen Ale Works). You can then catch the Lassen Rural bus in the early evening to retrieve your vehicle.
The path officially starts about 3 miles from this intersection. We drove into Westwood to see Paul Bunyan. The surface is mostly fairly fine gravel and in some places sand but not deep, all very nice surface. The trees are beautiful, and landscape changes along the ways. The most spectacular portion is for the last 7 or so miles, riding right along the Susan river; two short tunnels and several tressels. There is one segment, crossing under the road where we did walk since pretty steep and rocky. We enjoyed the whole trail. There is a great place to lunch about halfway at Gaumez with picnic benches and porta-potty.We road the the 3rd week of October and the towards the end of changing of seasonal leaves.
Side note - while in Susanville consider also riding at Ranch Park, a beautiful 27 acre park. Miles of unpaved trails, both fairly flat and mountain biking. We did a loop of Paul Bunyan to Canyon trail, about 6 miles.
Easy going...West to East
I had ridden this trail for the first time back in July, 2000. We made a Loop from the Westwood junction to where Hwy 36 cuts the trail and then we traveled back up the highway.
However, this time we used two vehicle's, one at each end. In August of 2010, we made a one-way trek from Westwood junction to Susanville.
Personally, I think it a great place for an experienced trail rider to introduce a younger/novice rider to a long day on a bike trail. Particularly, if you travel West to East. It's mostly all down hill.
Nevertheless, a rider has to maintain the will to reach the end. Also, one can gain an understanding of preparedness. No where on the trail can one just bail...pull into a Starbucks, drink a cafe mocha and wait for the rest to come back with the car. It helps build discipline and commitment.
It's difficult to get lost on this Trail. Not many splits to navigate. Very well signed. The terrain is suited for most all bikes. Although, I wouldn't recommend taking an old "ten-speed". But it's not necessary to have "RockShox" forks either. We did encounter a section with small boulder's or large rocks(depending on your point-of-view) that we had to steer clear.
All the while, this trail offers some of the wonderful views. Plenty of interesting spot's to stop and take in the scenery. Dip your toe's in the water or jump in !
You can see some of our highlights at: http://www.youtube.com/user/MrBwaddle#p/u/6/BwgmgVtqj8o