Ready to explore some Mt. Hough mountain biking? Here’s everything you need to know about riding the singletrack around Quincy, California.
Many mountain bikers are familiar with the famed northern California mountain bike destination of Downieville or they’ve at least heard of it. Right? But have you heard of Quincy, California or Mt. Hough mountain biking? Probably not (or maybe you have since you’re reading this…). The small town of Quincy is located about an hour and a half north of Downieville and it’s been the focus of much trail building over the past few years (big thanks to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship!). The trail network around Quincy is primarily centered on Mt. Hough (pronounced “Huff”) and it is fun. The main descent down the mountain is about 11-miles and it’s fast, smooth, buff, and flowy – the perfect compliment to Downieville’s more rugged singletrack.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting Quincy several times, usually combined with a few laps in Downieville, and I’m always impressed with the quality of these trails, the amazing views, and the backcountry riding. What’s even more exciting is that the trail builders aren’t nearly done yet! There are plans to lay out dozens of more miles of Mt. Hough singletrack in the coming years (there are currently about 35 miles). My prediction is that Quincy is going to become just as big of a household name as its neighbor Downieville. More mountain biking = more fun 🙂
(There’s a good chance that affiliate links are scattered throughout this post. If you click on one I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you and I’ll definitely be using it to buy bike gear.)
Where is Quincy, California & Why is it an up-and-coming mountain bike destination?
Quincy is located in the Lost Sierra of California about an hour and a half north of Downieville and 4 hours northeast of San Francisco in Plumas County. Quincy’s rising stardom as a mountain biking destination is thanks to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, a non-profit organization located in Quincy that is dedicated to “building strong, healthy communities; one trail at a time”. This non-profit was originally established in 2003 to mitigate the impact of high trail use in Downieville by mountain bikers, dirt bikers, and hikers, and their work involves erosion prevention, getting the local community involved, fundraising, building new trails, and maintaining already established ones.
Since its founding, the SBTS has expanded in region and scope to include Quincy and surrounding areas, but their vision continues to be the same:
To restore, maintain and build recreational trails that can be enjoyed now and by future generations.
To date, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship has completed or planned over 80 trail projects and they show no sign of slowing down. In addition to applying for grants to fund projects, they also organize several fundraising race events and they operate Yuba Expeditions bike shops and shuttle services in Quincy and Downieville where ALL proceeds go back into the local trails.
The SBTS was recently approved to build 35 miles of new trail on Mt. Hough, which is huge! They employ a full-time trail crew (how amazing is that!), so it’s not a matter of if, but when these trails will be cut. Quincy is up-and-coming for sure! Learn more about the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and all the good they’re doing here.
Mt. Hough Mountain Bike Shuttles & rentals
Shuttle Companies & Rentals
Mountain biking on Mt. Hough requires a shuttle to the top (I guess you don’t have to shuttle, but it is a looong and steep climb to the summit). Yuba Expeditions has a full bike shop (including rentals) and shuttle service in Quincy and you can book a shuttle with them either over the phone or on their website. It’s $40 per person per shuttle and I recommend doing at least two laps (or three!).
If you book a shuttle with Yuba Expeditions, I recommend following the shuttle bus in your car to the South Park Trail Head so that you don’t need to pedal all the way back to town, which is about 5.5 miles. If you’re doing a second lap, the shuttle can pick you up for round two at the South Park Trail Head.
Yuba Expeditions require at least four people to sign up for a shuttle in order for them to run it. This usually isn’t a problem during weekends in the summer, but it’s a good idea to call ahead to check how busy they are (or just bring some friends!).
Adventure Monkeys is another shuttle company based in Quincy that offers rides to the top of Mt. Hough. They require a minimum of four riders for a shuttle, but they typically run more often than Yuba Expeditions.
If you plan on doing multiple shuttles, you’ll need to plan your shuttle timings. It takes about an hour to get to the top of Mt. Hough from Yuba Expeditions. The classic Mt. Hough descent (more on the trails below) can take anywhere from 40 minutes if you’re really cruising to an hour+ depending on trail traffic and how often you stop. The Indian Falls route is a lot longer – about 2.5 to 3 hours on the bike.
Also, take into account where you need to pedal back to – Yuba Expeditions in town or the South Park Trail Head near the base.
You can shuttle to the top of Mt. Hough yourself if you have two vehicles or someone willing to be the shuttle driver. The road up is very steep in places and loose, so I recommend a high clearance 4×4 vehicle if possible. (We did it in our front-wheel-drive van and were fine, but it definitely wasn’t ideal).
How To ride the Mt. Hough Mountain bike Trails
There are currently two main descents down Mt. Hough and a small network of trails at the base. The Mt. Hough DH Trail is Quincy’s equivalent of the Downieville Downhill but it’s not nearly as challenging and doesn’t take as long to descend. The other descent down Mt. Hough is Indian Falls Ridge. This is more of a backcountry ride with a lot more cross-country pedaling, but it’s absolutely stunning. Lastly, I haven’t really explored the trail network at the base of Mt. Hough because the two shuttled descents are so much fun, but they look and sound to be mostly cross-country pedaling along ridgelines and Spanish Creek.
Mt. Hough DH
Beginner/Intermediate | 11 miles | + 170 ft | – 3,667 ft
The classic route down Mt. Hough is the Mt. Hough DH. It’s 11 miles of fast and flowy singletrack with very little tech but amazing views and little kicker alt-lines on the side if you want to have some extra fun. The trail ends at Spanish Creek and then it’s a mellow road ride back to the South Park Trail Head or Yuba Expeditions (if you’re doing a second lap, sometimes the shuttle will pick you up at the bridge on Oakland Camp Road).
Indian Falls Ridge
Intermediate+ | 25 miles | + 1,335 | – 5,091 ft
DO IT. If you’re up for a big backcountry ride that isn’t well marked and has quite a bit of pedaling but amazing views and awesome singletrack, this Indian Falls Ridge descent from the top of Mt. Hough is 100% worth it. I recommend doing two shuttles up Mt. Hough and taking the Indian Falls Ridge trail on the second run. It’s completely different from the Mt. Hough Trail in both scenery and terrain.
The trail isn’t well marked and the turn-off to Indian Falls 2 trail is especially easy to miss, but if you have TrailForks downloaded you should be fine. Indian Falls 2 winds through a cluster of really cool towering rock slabs and a short technical section. This is the highlight of the route, so don’t miss the turnoff!
The second half of this ride is currently an 11-mile mellow fire road spin back to the base of Mt. Hough. I have a feeling the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is working on a singletrack connector, but for now, you’ll be pedaling along a dirt road. It’s actually really pleasant with great views and very minimal climbing. When you exit the Indian Falls Ridge singletrack, just turn left onto the fire road follow it for 11 miles until you run across the last section of the Mt. Hough trail. Alternatively, you can take Berry Creek trail, which is fun, but quite a bit steeper and more rugged.
Where To eat, drink, & Camp in Quincy
Food & Drink
Quintopia Brewery – Eat here! You’ll thank me. The loaded fries are ridiculous and the beer selection is great.
Moon’s – This rustic little Italian restaurant has a really nice patio in the back (with misters!) and their pasta and pizza are really good. Big portions too 🙂
Morning Thunder – Get your coffee fix at Morning Thunder Cafe. They also serve delicious omelets.
Snake Lake Campground – If you’re looking for a quiet, free place to camp Snake Lake is a great option. It’s about a 20-minute drive from town, but it’s a bit higher in elevation so the summer temps are more manageable.
Have you visited Quincy and ridden the Mt. Hough mountain biking trails? What did you think? How do they compare to Downieville? Leave a comment below!