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Trail Conditions

Bear Creek Climb

April 16th, 2014: We will be open for business this weekend 4/19-20, by reservations only. Contact us via email for shuttles and bike rentals!

The Nelson trail is clear from fallen trees and large debris. We removed four fallen trees that were blocking the trail in mid-March. Sticks and debris have been raked off of the trail too. The snow covering the trail from the last storm has melted below the the meadow at the top of the trail. This moisture will help to solidify the recent dirt work and bring some much needed water to the creeks and springs, which have been in drought conditions over the last couple of seasons. The creeks are flowing with more water that we saw in March as the snow melts.

The current condition of the Freeman Trail is unknown, however, there is some snow at the top and it's likely that there are a few trees down across the trail, as is usually the case each Spring.

The Summit trail to Bear Creek trail is not ready to ride yet, as there is still quite a bit of snow on the face of Slate Mountain, visible from Camp Nelson and the Jordan Peak web cams. Number of trees down is unknown and we plan to have a trail work day in late April or early May. Contact us if you're interested in helping to clear the trail from debris and move fallen trees.

The condition of Summit Trail from Jordan Peak is unknown since the gate to the North Road is currently locked and there is still visible snow in that area as seen on the Jordan Peak web cams.

Camp Nelson Trail Bear Creek Trail
The Nelson trail is ridden as a downhill with a shuttle, and it descends approximately 1,800' in six miles with a couple short climbs. The top is more technical than the bottom half and there is something for everyone on this trail. Typical round trip time with shuttle: 1 to 2.5+ hours
With a shuttle, the Bear Creek trail starts with a five-mile, 1,800' climb on Summit Trail to Slate Mountain. After the Bear Creek turn off, it's (almost) all downhill to Coy Flat (descent of ~4,000'). Typical round trip with shuttle: 3.5 to 5+ hours

Camp Nelson Trail
Jose getting ready to drop-in and cross the Roman bridge in Spring

Bear Creek Trail
Shidan riding through "blood alley" on a warm summer day
The top of the Camp Nelson trail is located right off highway 190 at the turn-out where the Summit Trail crosses the road. The trailhead is at the meadow/turn-out about 1/2-mile below Quaking Aspen Campground. The trail ends in the McIntyre Tract at the end of Nelson Drive in Camp Nelson. The uppersection of the trail is rocky, steep and there are a lot of roots, making it more difficult and technical than the lower section.
There are a couple small climbs and about a dozen creek crossings along the way. Some are ridable, others you must carry your bike across a fallen tree that spans the creek. Trail speed on Camp Nelson will put a big smile on your face, but be aware that this is the most popular trail in the area for all visitors and it's not unlikely to see a family hiking or a group of equestrians coming up the trail. This it the kind of trail that makes you want to do it again and again. It's way better than a video game, but the trail should be on Downhill Domination.
The shuttle route for the Bear Creek trail starts from esentially the same place as Camp Nelson, but in the opposite direction, on Summit Trail toward Slate Mountain. The climb is fairly steep and takes most riders between 1.5-3 hours to reach the top of the climb,just below 9,000'. The descent to the Bear Creek crossing is about 15-20 minutes of fast and smooth singletrack in the high-country.
After crossing the creek, a short climb puts you at the top of the downhill. From here to Coy flat, the terrain will change so many times you won't believe you're on the same trail. From ridgeline, to sequoia groves, to fast and twisty berms, then to a younger part of the forest, and when you round a corner, it changes to an exposed traverse through some amazing manzanita. With all this change in topography, Bear Creek is the longest, steepest, most strenuous and technical trail in the area, which also makes it the most fun.
The Camp Nelson trail is the most ridden trail in the area and it is in great shape, but will get even better when we get some rain this fall. There is an improvement to the skinny log bridge about half way down. It wants to be ridden. Come ride!
The Bear Creek trail is in the best condition it has been in for many years. Combined efforts from volunteers all over southern California have made the climb and long descent pure bliss.
Freeman Creek Summit Trail
The Freeman Creek trail is ridden as an out-and-back , typically as a bonus lap with a shuttle, descending and climbing approximately 1,800' in six miles with a moderately steep, consistent climb. The trail is not as technical as Nelson, but it has a lot of water bars and was recently renovated. Typical round trip time with shuttle: 2.5 to 4+ hours
The Summit trail from Jordan Peak is ridden as a shuttle, with some climbing to the peak and from meadow to meadow. With roughly 1,800' of climbing and just under 5,000' of DH, when connected with Nelson trail and inlcuding a bonus loop to Jordan Peak Lookout, the Summit trail makes for a similar experience to Cannell. The trail is technical off Jordan Peak, but then becomes easier along the way down. Typical round trip time with shuttle: 3 to 5+ hours
Freeman Trail Rider turning near Giant Sequoia
Carl rounding a corner created by a giant sequoia tree
Summit Trail climbing in Fog
The Freeman Creek trail is frequently added to a Nelson shuttle as a crossy-country out-and-back, starting just above Quaking Aspen Campground on the North Road to Jordan Peak and descending to the George Bush Sequoia Tree. The top of the trail begins with a re-route extension, crosses a new bridge and then rolls up-and-down through a sequoia grove and along a meadow. There are some rocky, technical sections, but the trail is predominantly smooth with lots of turns and a waterbar around every corner.
After crossing the third new bridge, the trail ends at the George Bush tree. This location is a good resting and refueling spot before turning around and pedaling back up the trail. When combined with a Nelson shuttle, this is a two-down, for one-up delight!
The shuttle route for the Summit trail from Jordan Peak starts from the top of the North road just beyond Jordan Peak. Riders will find the start difficult to find off the road, but it is near the road, on the north-west side of the road. After riding the first segment, rides can add a bonus loop by climbing to the Jordan Peak lookout tower that overlooks Camp Nelson, Slate Mountain, Springville and the Golden Trout Wilderness. The first descent from Jordan Peak is steep and technical, but a lot of fun. Continuing down Summit trail, the singletrack flows through trees and along meadows.
Summit eventually joins the top of the Nelson trail, so starting at Jordan Peak is one way to make a longer day out of one shuttle. Or if you're hungry for maximum elevation, start early and do a double shuttle, with Bear Creek in the morning and Summit from Jordan to Nelson in the afternoon.
The Freeman trail is in great shape, with no trees across the trail. A few years ago, the Forest Service installed three large bridges, re-routed steep uphill sections to be more gradual with switchbacks, and installed some excellently placed water bars, in mass quantity.
The Summit trail from Jordan Peak is in the best condition it has been in for many years. Several groups have contributed to open the Summit Trail and restore it to a fun, back-country experience. Due to the lack of signage, stray cow trails and the trail connections across roads and through meadows, riding this trail without someone who is knowledgeable about trail connections is not recommended.
Needles Lookout Trail Maintenance
Needles Look Out
The former Needles Lookout Tower
Trail Work
There's always one guy "supervising"
Unfortunately, the Needles lookout tower burned in 2011, after 75 years in place. The trail to the Needles is still open, but the main attraction of the lookout is no longer available and the area is closed off until the end of September due to hazardous materials from the fire. See photos of the lookout burning down and the press release from the Forest Service on our facebook album. If you enjoy riding the trails, and are passionate about keeping the trails fun and free from fallen trees, debris and overgrowth, contact us and we'll add you to our list for the next trailwork day.