Slayin Stellar Susanville Singletrack

Today I learned that Nadia Comaneci tried to commit suicide after the 1976 Olympics by drinking bleach.  Heavy.

I also learned that Susanville used to be named Rooptown (until 1857) and nearly half of the population is incarcerated in three nearby prisons.  These prisons also employ half of the non-incarcerated adult population of the town.  No wonder PBS made a documentary about Susanville in 2007 called “Prison Town”.


So corny, I just had to…

I already knew that there was some stellar singletrack on my “to-do” list.  When we arrived, I was surprised by the town’s quaint historical charm.  The natural beauty of the Susan River and surrounding mountains were an added bonus.

Rolled into town around 5p – headed straight for Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon.  Cool historic building, over 500 ranch brands hand drawn on the wall behind the 30′ bar.  Pretty OG


Lassen Ale Works at the Pioneer Saloon

Got a flight of beer = so-so.  Food took forever.  Burger = so-so.  At least the vibe was pretty cool.

Woke up early the next morning, amped up to start riding!  Town bike path along the Susan River is a peaceful way to get the legs warmed up.  No humans, but I did share the path with Mother Goose and her fam.


Peaceful morning jaunt on the Susanville Town Bike Path

Next up was the Bizz Johnson Trail – a converted rail trail that winds gradually up the Susan River Canyon.  This is a very relaxing uphill climb at a gentle railroad grade.   The soothing lullaby of the always close river adds to the enjoyment.  Throw in some stellar views and a couple spooky old railroad tunnels and you’ve got a pretty memorable trail 🙂


This was actually taken at the end of the ride when the sun came out.


Meandering along the Susan River – Bizz Johnson Trail


Approaching one of the “spooky” railroad tunnels  on Bizz.  Pretty dark inside and I kept thinking a homeless guy would jump out and shank me.  Ha!

After climbing Bizz for about 6 miles, it was time to jump on to the singletrack South Side Trail that everybody raves about.  My thought was to make a loop (climb up Bizz, cross river, descend South Side).  One hitch.  When the river is flowing too high (i.e. Winter and Spring), they pull out the temporary bridge that allows you to cross at Devil’s Corral.  Oopsy.  The river was flowing strong and deep.  Couldn’t cross.  Bummer, but no biggie.  Rode back down Bizz to a lower connector by the eastern train tunnel.  This connector is 2.9 miles below Devil’s Corral.  Being me, I couldn’t “not” leave without riding ALL of South Side so I did the top portion as an out-n-back.  Totally worth it!


Hard to tell, but the river is flowing fast and deep.  Normally there’s a bridge here.

South Side is a 7.2 mile gem of a trail.  The skinny singletrack is way more fun to descend than Bizz Johnson, and it keeps a higher line for much of the ride – meaning drastically different views to compliment those found while climbing Bizz.


View looking down at Susan River from South Side Trail.  If you look closely, you can see the bridge and railroad tunnel on Bizz Johnson trail (where my bike is resting in the photo above).

As you get lower in elevation, the ebb and flow of tacky singletrack along the river is fantastic!  Too much fun to stop for photos 🙂  By the time I reached Hobo Camp, I’d done 23.5 miles and 1,850 climbing.  Time for a break!

I met up with the fam.  Found a nice spot along the river to let the dog play and the girls dip their feetsies in.


Playing along the Bizz Johnson Trail / Susan River

Then we were off to Susan Creek Ranch Park.  This was the main reason we were here after all.  My buddy Joel Rathje, who is now the Trails Coordinator in Mammoth, built miles of purpose-built singletrack here before coming to Mammoth.


Molly always wants to lead.  Lucy is such a good big sister.


Angela and Molly enjoying the beauty.  Bad weather constantly threatened, but it never rained.


We started with a family ride on the lower trails, which were a blast for the kids.  Once the girls were spent and wanted to go back to the motel, I explored the southern trails some more.  I particularly enjoyed Beaver Trail, Hot Shot, and Rattlesnake.  Lots of short trails with many options.  Kinda confusing for a newbie, but fun nonetheless.  I eventually started following the “Ridin’ High” signs that were already placed for the upcoming race on memorial weekend.  I always figure race courses offer the “best of the best”.  This did not disappoint!

Next thing I knew, I was climbing Heart Attack Hill into the “upper” trails.  This is the toll everyone has to pay to get to the “goods” and the reward was definitely worth it.


This is the only photo I took in the upper area – too much fun to stop!  Just followed the “Ridin High” signs and I was high the whole time!

The view to old Susanville is great and the Old Courthouse sits prominently over the town.  Ear to ear grins kept the oxygen flowing easily into my lungs.  It was that good.  Just when my legs started yelling at me, another slithering descent would take over… berms galore, grade reversals, and an endless natural pump track.  Then you climb some more, rinse and repeat.  The only speed limit is your skill set.  Trails of note were Lo Go, Low Flow, Never Sweat, Wild West, Playground, Hi Go, etc – Unfortunately night was creeping up and I knew the girls would be starving… so I pulled the plug on the ride after about 20 miles and headed back to town, ready to EAT!

We hit the Chinese joint in town – Happy Garden.  Loved it!


I make a lot of mistakes, so hopefully I do something!

We ate like kings and queens.  The owner/waitress (Margaret?) gave the girls free won ton soup, edamame, egg rolls and ice cream.  No joke!!  She was also wearing a t-shirt from Justice (which Lucy tells me only makes kids sizes).  Pretty awesome for a 60’s ish Chinese woman with cray cray eyeliner… The main dishes were fantastic, portions large, and service was spot on.  Perfect post ride meal to end a great, albeit short, trip to Susanville… Oregon bound… stay tuned!




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1 Response to Slayin Stellar Susanville Singletrack

  1. Pingback: Oakridge, OR – A Slice of MTB Heaven in the Cascade Range | Dirty Teeth – Alan's Mountain Biking Adventures

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