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South Fork Trail

Average Rating:    (3.5 of 5)

No. of Reviews: 2

The first three miles are a narrow road for jeep access by the few people who have summer cabins along that lower stretch of the river. After recrossing the river on a steel bridge, you will encounter rolling single track that alternately swoops along the river's edge and climbs along the walls of South Fork Canyon. You will mostly travel through deep forests of oaks and mixed conifers, but at other times you will be out on exposed ledges that offer spectacular views of the river. Most of the trail is fast hardpack dirt and rock but there are a couple of slide areas about five miles in where it is best to use caution. The first eight miles are a National Recreation Trail that ends at a collasped log cabin on Smokey Creek, but once the creek is crossed the trail continues for 10 more miles up to Forest Service Road 30. The upper trail is less used but it is for the most part an excellent trail. In one section (from St Jacques Place to Dog Gulch on the Trinity National Forest map) the trail can be a little hard to follow in some places, but this has improved in the last few years. If you plan to come here early in the summer, it is wise to check with the Wildwood Ranger Station to see if it has been cleared; it can have alot of treefall on it, epecially after wet winters. Because of the remotness of this trail, people who want to ride more than a few miles of it should be intermediate to advanced riders who are experienced outdoor types. Also be aware that there are summer cabins along the lower trail and an occassional settler's cabin along the upper trail that are sometimes occupied. These are strictly off limits to trail users; trespassing is a sore point with the locals so please stay on the trail and off their property.
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Trail Directions
From Red Bluff head west on Hgwy 36 for approx 75 miles to the Hell Gate campground exit. Don't enter the campground but follow the road for about a mile to the trailhead parking lot. Cross the footbridge over the South Fork of the Trinity River and follow the trail upriver.
Trail Length
18 miles one way
Trail Level
Trail Type
Mad River

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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

Review Date
January 18, 2011

Overall Rating
 3 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 4 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Once a week

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Reviewed by: Dipster1 ,  Cross Country Rider

Road on 7/6/10, full lenght of the south fork trail and looped back via south fork mtn for 50 miles and 6,500ft climbing. Trail in good condition with a few sections recently cleared. A few downed trees and some over grown sections with poison oak. Saw a big black bear on forest road while riding over to south fork mtn. The river trail is 18 miles and about 2,000ft. Not technical but based on it being fairly remote need to have going backcountry experience.

Recommended Route:
I did it as a loop with south fork mtn, doing the loop by going up the south fork river trail then back via south fork mtn. 50 miles 6,500ft. Take a map and check it frequently, but route is pretty straight forward but this is remote country.

Other recommended trails in the same area:
South Fork Mtn, Black Lassic, Mad river Rock ridge, Kneeland Road, any lonely remote forest road.

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Review Date
January 6, 2003

Overall Rating
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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Reviewed by: Chris , from Fortuna

Ridden in early January and trail conditions were good with exception of lots of blow down. Easy grade and non-technical except some of the larger stream crossings and narrow bridges. Trail suitable for beginners. The "South Fork Trail" is approximately 16 miles out and back, however there is much more. All trails are depicted on the Forest Glen 7.5-minute USGS map (1979).

Recommended Route:
As described above.

Dipster1 (07/14/2010)
Did a ride on 7/7/10, trail crews have done a good job on the first 8 miles or so, the rest had a few downed trees but not many. Did it as a loop with forest road 30 and then back via south fork mtn forest road 23 to horse mtn lookout, then down 1s04. The loop was 50 miles, 6,500ft climbing. Saw a black bear on forest road 30.
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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)