Launching my bike down Mt. Hough on worn brake pads was a mistake.
But everything else about my experience on this awesome Northern Sierra trail was fantastic.
The views, easy access and flat-out fun single track make this new trail by the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship a worthy destination.
The stewardship’s Greg Williams described Mt. Hough as “not too steep but steep enough you can scare yourself pretty good.”
But if you want more justification for checking it out, the trail is a great introduction to the burgeoning single-track scene in Quincy, Calif.
The stewardships professional crew built the trail, which opened in early 2015. The Grinduro, a combined gravel road and single track race, launched for the first time last year, helped elevate Mt. Hough on many riders’ radar.
It’s also connected to the non-motorized South Park trail network.
We made our maiden voyage to Mt. Hough on Father’s Day and managed to combine trail time with some grilled steak and cold beer after the ride ended.
From Reno it’s about 80 easy miles to Quincy via highways 395 and 70.
If you’re planning to shuttle to the top of the trail and riding down, you could make the entire round trip in as little as five hours.
If you want to make a loop from the bottom of the mountain add a couple hours for an ascent that clocks in with about 4,000 feet of elevation gain over nearly 11 miles.
Since we wanted to make time for a post-ride meal and we had non-riders willing to drive us to the top we decided to shuttle.
To get to the top from Highway 70 turn north on Chandler Road about four miles east of downtown Quincy.
Follow Chandler Road a little less than three miles until you get to Quincy Junction Road. Turn north then make a quick left onto Mt. Hough/Crystal Lake Road.
The road turns from pavement to gravel and goes all the way to the peak of Mt. Hough, which tops out at about 7,200 feet in elevation.
Just before the peak there’s a parking turnout where you can access the trail. But first you’ll probably want to go to the peak to check out not only the fire watch tower but the amazing views in all directions.
The view of Lassen Peak to the north is particularly epic. But Crystal Lake and a rural valley to the northeast make for nice photos as well.
Once you’ve had your fill of the views it’s time to tackle the trail.
The top of the trail, which is open to motorized and non-motorized travel, is steep.
This is where my worn rear brake pads finally gave up the ghost.
The top half of the trail parallels the road and has plenty of steep, flowy terrain where riders can build a lot of speed.
It’s mostly wooded terrain with occasional views where the trail briefly pops out of the trees.
Eventually it drops into a valley overlooking Tollgate Creek. Riders will find some fun switchbacks and nice views of Quincy on this stretch.
At the bottom the trail crosses some railroad tracks and reaches Oakland Camp Road, a paved road to a summer camp.
The road runs along the creek and there are a few spots where locals cool off in the water.
It took me more than an hour to make the 10.5 mile descent on single-track, but the fact I was limited to my front brake contributed to a slower pace. Faster riders with help from a shuttle could easily squeeze two, three or even more laps into a day trip.
People who want to push themselves further could ride up Mt. Hough/Crystal Lake Road instead of shuttling.
If you go: Biking Mt. Hough
Location: Quincy, Calif.
Trail distance: 10.5 miles one-way
Descent: 3,911 feet