Mountain Biking the Mt. Hough Trail & Other Riding Around Quincy, CA

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Female mountain biker riding on scenic section of singletrack trail with expansive views of rolling forested mountain range
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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 the Mt. Hough trail?

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. The trail network around Quincy is primarily centered on Mt. Hough (pronounced “Huff”) and it is fun. The main descent down the mountain is 10-miles of fast and flowy singletrack – the perfect compliment to Downieville’s more rugged terrain.

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. 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 🙂

(Note: the feature image was taken from the Indian Falls Ridge trail, not the Mt. Hough trail).

Learn everything you need to know about exploring the Mt. Hough trail and Quincy mountain biking


A quick Rundown on Quincy Mountain Biking

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.

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. 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:.

SBTS Website

The SBTS is continually building new trails on Mt. Hough and Quincy and they employ a full-time trail crew (how amazing is that!). Learn more about the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and all the good they’re doing here.

Woman facing away from camera looking out over small lake in northern California from rock ledge high above
The views out over Crystal Lake from the top of Mt. Hough are stunning

Mt. Hough Trail Networks

Quincy mountain biking can be broken up into two main trail networks:

  1. Mt. Hough
  2. South Park

1. Mt. Hough

The ‘main attraction’ of mountain biking in Quincy is the 10-mile Mt. Hough Trail that descends over 3,500 feet through beautiful forest on fast, flowy singletrack. But Mt. Hough is also home to several other trails like the remote and beautiful Indian Falls Ridge and the new Chandler Trail loop.

Learn more about Mt. Hough shuttle options and route recommendations below.

2. South Park

I haven’t ridden or explored the South Park trail network at the base of Mt. Hough because the Mt. Hough trail is so darn fun, but the trails look and sound to be mostly cross-country pedaling along ridgelines and Spanish Creek.

The beginner-friendly Cascade Trail that parallels the river is supposedly beautiful and a great ride for the family.


Mt. Hough route recommendations

Here are my two go-to rides when I visit Quincy. I’ll typically do the Mt. Hough DH as my first run and then catch a second shuttle to do the more challenging and longer Indian Falls route.

Note that the 2021 Dixie Fire tore through the Quincy and Mt. Hough area. I have not visited since this fire, so I don’t know to what extent the area and trails have been affected. They are open, though.

Also, the Sierra Butte Trails Stewardship has built several new trails since I last visited including the 4.8 mile Chandler Trail loop which looks and sounds fun, but I can’t comment on yet since I haven’t ridden it!

1. Mount Hough DH

TRAIL STATS

  • Route difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Mileage: 10 miles
  • Elevation gain: 170 ft
  • Elevation loss: 3,667 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks
Screenshot of a map of Mt. Hough DH mountain bike trail in Quincy, California
Mt. Hough DH

This is the classic route down Mt. Hough. It’s 10 miles of fast and flowy singletrack with very little tech unless you choose to play off some of the alt-lines. There is some narrow sidehill and tight switchbacks toward the end, but overall it’s a great trail for all levels of riders.

The trail starts at the top of Mt. Hough with amazing views out over Crystal Lake and surrounding mountains. Once you enter the trees, the views are hidden by beautiful pine forests until you reach the last few miles where the trail opens up again.

Mountain biker riding bike on forested singletrack trail in California

The Mt. Hough trail ends at Spanish Creek where you can take a dip to cool off 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).

This trail, like all trails that the Sierra Butte Trail Stewardship builds and maintains, is open to motos, so just keep that in mind. You’ll most likely hear them before you see them.

2. Indian Falls From Mt. Hough

TRAIL STATS

  • Route difficulty: Intermediate (with good fitness)
  • Mileage: 25 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,335 ft
  • Elevation loss: 5,091 ft
  • Map/GPS: TrailForks

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. It’s a great second ride after you’ve done the Mt. Hough trail. Indian Falls 2 is the highlight as it winds through a cluster of really cool towering rock slabs.

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 a pleasant ride with great views and very minimal climbing.

It’s important to note that these trails are not well marked and the turn-off to Indian Falls 2 trail is especially easy to miss. If you have TrailForks downloaded you should be fine, but I don’t recommend attempting this ride without some sort of navigation. Also, bring more water than you think you’ll need as much of the riding is not shaded.

Mountain biker riding on narrow rocky section of trail with expansive views out over forested mountain range
The Indian Falls route is a bigger backcountry ride with awesome views and more technical riding

Mt. Hough Shuttles

The Forest Service road up to the top of Mt. Hough is very steep and very sandy in places. Unless you really like climbing, it’s best to book a shuttle. Actually, book two because you’ll want a second descent!

Shuttle Companies & Rentals

Yuba Expeditions

Yuba Expeditions is a full bike shop (including rentals) and shuttle service in Quincy. You can book a Mt. Hough shuttle with them either over the phone or on their website. It’s $40 per person per shuttle and they run Friday through Monday or if you have a group of 5 or more you can set up a mid-week shuttle.

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 have to pedal all the way back to town, which is about 5.5 miles on the road. If you’re doing a second lap, the shuttle can pick you up for round two at the South Park Trail Head.

Yuba Expeditions requires 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

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.

Shuttle Timings

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 can take anywhere from 40 minutes if you’re really cruising to an hour+ depending on trail traffic and how often you stop. I recommend giving yourself at least 2.5-3 hours between shuttles or more if you plan on taking your time.

The Indian Falls route is a lot longer – about 2.5 to 3 hours on the bike – so you’ll need at least 4.5-5 hours between shuttles.

Also, take into account where you need to pedal back to. Yuba Expeditions in town is another 5.5 miles or the South Park Trail Head is near the base of Mt. Hough.

Self-Shuttling

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-ish, but it definitely wasn’t ideal and we wouldn’t do it again).

Rear of van with four mountain bikes hanging on vertical rack covered in dirt after driving up dusty forest road
The Forest Service Road to the top of Mt. Hough is steep, dusty, and loose!

Where To eat, drink, & Camp in Quincy

Once you’re done your descends, check out some of these great places to eat, drink, and camp around 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.

Camping

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 trail? What did you think? How does it compare to Downieville? Leave a comment below!

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Plan your trip to Quincy, California to ride the Mt. Hough trail with this complete guide including trail descriptions, routes, and more!
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