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Passing through California’s historic Gold Rush country, the El Dorado Trail runs more than 35 miles from Camino west to the line between El Dorado and Sacramento counties, just south of Folsom. The route follows two former rail lines, the Southern Pacific Railroad and Michigan-California Railroad.
The rail-trail is a work in progress. For 8.5 miles on its eastern end—between Camino and Placerville, where the trail winds through the Sierra Nevada foothills—it is largely paved and can be enjoyed on road bikes. For the remainder—from El Dorado westward—the trail has a single-track, dirt surface best suited for mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians.
A small section of the railroad tracks in the corridor are still in occasional use, although gravel has been placed between the ties to make mountain biking easier. The El Dorado County Historical Museum operates excursion trains on the El Dorado Western Railroad on Sundays between the Shingle Springs Depot (4241 Mother Lode Drive) and the El Dorado Station (6000 Oriental Street).
In Placerville, one can easily hop off the trail to enter downtown and enjoy the historical buildings and charms of an old gold-rush town. A highlight of the trail in this area is the breathtaking Weber Creek trestle that dates back to 1903 and towers about 100 feet above the creek; it lies just 1 mile east of Missouri Flat Road.
Farther west, trail-goers can take a break in Shingle Springs, where amenities can be found along Mother Lode Drive with several restaurants within a few blocks. On the south side of the street is Bradford Park, which offers restrooms and covered picnic areas.
From Shingle Springs to the county line, the views are pure wild west, where goats and cattle roam alongside the trail.
Future possibilities include extending the trail farther east from Camino to the Lake Tahoe Basin along the old Pony Express Trail.
On the east end of trail, parking is available in Placerville at the following locations:
On the west side of the trail, parking is available at the following locations:
Had my wife drop me off behind Walmart and took the ED trail for the first time to Shingle Springs. I hit record on my Strava app but didn't hit start until I was well into the trip. Darn. No stats this time.
Riding a FS MTB and it had rained about 2 days previously so the weeds weeds were growing in the sun. Super cool to see weeds almost cover the trail. What was left was just a line in the fox tails designating the trail in some spots hiding any rocky, rutted out surprises. There was also some mush and it made me wonder if I was really following the trail into deep water but I was committed.
Absolutely loved the ride and the trail but it was over too soon. Need to expand my use of the trail up and down.
I ride mountain bikes, and not full suspension...the trail from Folsom to Latrobe, or Latrobe to Folsom, is garbage, for me, on a bicycle. Maybe if I was on a horse, or a dirtbike, or on full squish mountain bike, it would be OK, but the section from Folsom to Latrobe is ugly and very bumpy.
From Latrobe to Shingle Springs, or Shingle Springs to Latrobe, this trail is a lot of fun. Keep an eye out for the single track switching sides of the railroad as it is very frustrating to be off trail. There is a huge difference between the single track and the "trail" along the tracks. Ride the single track. The intimidating uphills are short and very manageable once you get going up (or down) them.
From Shingle Springs to Placerville, or Placerville to Shingle Springs, the trail is good. Not great, but good. There are sections that are fantastic and sections that leave a bit to be desired. Some of the single track climbs are tough. Be prepared to walk some if you are not a very good mountain bike rider. Even then, I hit a few wet roots or leaves or rocks and the rear tire just gives out with moisture, cold and steepness. Once you get to cross the road by Walmart, the opportunity for dirt reduces. It is there, you just have to keep a constant eye out for it. And if you do not run tubeless, don't go off road between Placerville and Diamond Springs as there are a ton of thorns just waiting for your tires...
This 36 (72) mile trail has a lot of potential and it is fun to ride up and back from Folsom to Placerville and back. Great training and the elevation is just under 4000' total so it makes it possible to hold good speed. A little too much tarmac and getting battered for the last 5-7 miles into Folsom is no bueno.
When you experience this trail you first need to realize it is actually about 37 miles long but is longer than that to Folsom or to Tahoe (Epic Trail System). That said, the El Dorado Trail is a "trifecta of trails" with rail, earthen trail and Class I bike path under construction. This is the goal of the entire corridor to the El Dorado County line BECAUSE it is the goal of the organization that manages it, the SPTC JPA.
The El Dorado Trail or Gem of the Western Sierras, is a rough, somewhat untamed trail testament to the folks who built it and many with legacy family members in the area. In fact, many with less than 75 years in the are do not know about the EDT. Come out and ride the rail now in Shingle Springs in the depot at Sam's Town Cyclery or rent bikes to ride the earthen trail. You can also ride the rail in El Dorado and soon they will have a Class I (ADA approved) bike path along with improved earthen trail.
The Placerville Trail (Missouri Flat to Camino) is great with some nice views and the tressle bridge over Weber Creek. However, watch out for cars and homeless in Placerville. Making way out of Placerville you can get to Camino with a little bit of a climb (estimate 600').
In the next few years projects will start to build the Class I trail next to the rail and hopefully we will see connects to Cameron Park, El Dorado Hills and Folsom.
Oh yeah, wildlife are plenty on the EDT having seen over the years many deer, fox, skunk and even a mountain lion!
Started 7:00am on trail and it was a challenge through some of the obstacles... freeway construction zone, Saturday Farmers Market, Gold Rush festival but that was the easy stuff. Problematic areas began after Missouri Flat Road / Walmart. Here the trail was either rocky, on an edge next to tracks or on the tracks. At least the worst was riding on tracks which is ok if you have good dual suspension and are dialed in. Views were awesome, no loose dogs, trails were challenging at times. We eventually abandoned the rails due to low air and low water I’d do it again but start in Camino and end in Walmart.
The main problem with the trail are the folks that cannot figure out the little stick figures (and text) painted on the pavement surface at most major crossings.
The pedestrian figure and the bicyclist figure are obviously travelling in the same direction of travel---pedestrian limbs and leaning into the walk, bicycle sitting on the bicycle facing forward. Pedestrian is on the left side of the trail as you read the right-side up text, "Left", and the bicyclist is on the right side of the trail as you read the "Right" text.
All the clues are there, but so many people don't seem to figure it out, so it is a bit annoying to have to go around them as they walk towards you on the trail.
I hope this helps.
In selfishness, I wouldn't write about this trail, because I wouldn't want to have to share it with anyone else. But I just have to say, riding this trail from the Placerville Station east to the end of the paved portion is a neat, tidy, beautiful workout, which you can fit into less than an hour start to end. It's only something like 4.9 miles each way, but going eastward, it probably averages about a 6% grade, I would guesstimate. It's just a pure, honest workout riding east, if you push it, and then the return trip is an excellent reward. It's a pleasure to ride on my Trek hybrid.
There are now 3 parking areas for the El Dorado Trail on the class one sections.
1) Missouri Flat Road (Placerville/Diamond Springs) – From U.S. Highway 50, exit Missouri Flat Rd. and go south. The parking is just past Walmart on the left, next to Sierra Door & Supply. Parking in Sierra Door & Supply’s parking area is illegal. If the parking lot is full, please park at Walmart. The businesses on the same side of the street near the trail also allow parking in designated areas.
2) The Bus Station on Mosquito Rd (Placerville) – From U.S. Highway 50, take the Broadway exit. Heading east, turn right and go back under the freeway. Heading west, you can make a right into the parking area. There is paved and dirt parking presently available.
3) Camelia Lane (Placerville to Camino section) - This is also referred to as the Jacquier Parking. From U.S. Highway 50, exit Point View Drive and go north, continuing on Jacquier Road (the main road.) You will see the sign for the El Dorado Trail on your right at the corner of Jacquier Road and Camelia Lane. There is room for horse trailers.
A GPS track of the single track portion of the unimproved trail along the railroad tracks, along with additional info, is available here:
This trail has a breathtaking railroad trestle that crosses Weber Creek and is about 100 feet above the ground. From the trestle you have a spectacularl view of the surrounding California foothills countryside and the meandering creek. On a bright spring day you will be rewarded with birds singing, flowers blooming and bicyclists, walkers and runners and the occasional equestrian. The fall is a wonderful time to visit for the fall colors and the nearby apple orchards. Any time is a good time to come to El Dorado County and visit 30+ wineries making superb, award winning wines. Many of the wineries can be reached by bicycle and are just a few miles from downtown Placerville.
This section of the trail is the newest addition to the El Dorado Trail. The Forni Road to Missouri Flat segment is a 2.64 mile long multi-use paved trail. After you finish walking or biking the newest section of the trail, go into downtown Placerville (you can take the trail to Forni Road and zoom into town) and enjoy this charming old gold-rush town. Don't forget to visit the historic buildings and enjoy the great shops and restaurants in downtown. If you still want more bicycling, The El Dorado Trail continues for another 4.6 miles east (paved). Check out the trail maps for more information on access points for the trail.
See the trail maps and more information at http://www.trailsnow.org/maps.htm
For information on visiting the farms and orchards in the area go to http://www.edc-farmtrails.org/ProductDirectory.html
For information on visiting the wineries go to http://www.eldoradowines.org/wineries.html
Parking at Transit Depot, ( N38.73299 W120.78924 ). Uphill to the Curved Overpass over Hwy 50 is as far as I rode. Well used trail and interesting tunnel. Shade the first 1.8 mile, 0.6 along noisy Hwy 50. Use Jacquier Rd to large parking lot at Trail head ( N38.73640 W120.75436 ) Some open space then trail returns to Curved Overpass over Hwy 50. Noel Keller 30 Apr 09
"Out of towners, like us, found the directions a bit confusing because if you are approaching Placerville from the east there are two Broadway exits. If you take the first one (Smith Flat School Road and Broadway), turn right and go a half block to Smith Flat Road. Turn left on Smith Flat and go about three blocks to Jacquier Road. Turn right. In less than 100 yards, you'll find a tiny parking lot (3 spaces) at the trailhead of the segment heading west toward Mosquito Road. If you continue on Jacquier another 1/4 mile, you'll find a large parking lot with a rest room. This new trail segment heads east.
If you get off Hwy 50 at the western Broadway exit westbound, you exit right on to Mosquito Road. Turn right to find the large transit system parking lot on your right in about two blocks. The trailhead is across the street. Coming from the west, you exit onto Broadway, turn right (West) one block to Main, turn right on Main and cross under Hwy 50 where it runs into Mosquito. Bear right on Mosquito and go two blocks to trailhead.
After wandering around lost for a while since we came in from the east, we finally found the tiny parking lot on Jacquier (after passing the big one but not seeing the sign). We headed west toward Mosquito Road. We had a very pleasant walk on Thanksgiving morning, 2006. There were a lot of people out wearing off a few calories before their Turkey day celebratio and the weather was ideal. This is an execellent neighborhood trail."
"The first three miles or so are paved and incredible to ride with a mild grade the entire way. There are plans to extend the trail from the county line with Sacramento to the beautiful logging town of Camino.
Once fully completed, this will allow bikers to ride from Old Sacramento to Camino on trails, a distance of 50+ miles!"
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