When we go on trips, we usually keep our eyes and ears open for future mountain biking adventures. One of those to show up on our radar was the Bass Lake Mountain Biking scene. The mountains looked big enough, but there wasn’t too much written about it. One trail did pop up though and that was 007, like the secret agent.
007 Has A Long History Dating Back To The 80s
As usual, we begin to do some research. We ask a few friends that have been in the scene for a while including our mountain biking mentor / coach. His first remark, “Oh yeah! They used to have this INSANE mountain biking race.” Digging deeper, sure enough I found some old articles talking about it. It was considered a XC-Style / Old School DH that ran until 2004 from what we can tell. We learn later that the trail itself has been around since the 80s. With our curiosity piqued and the crowds coming to Tahoe, we made a plan to get outta Dodge and check this place out.
Pedal Forward – Gateway To Yosemite / Bass Lake MTB Scene
Talking to our connections, we come to find out that there’s a new mountain biking shop in the area. About twenty minutes outside of Bass Lake in Oakhurst is Pedal Forward. When you first head to a new trail network, it’s always a good idea to get some beta from the locals.
A Welcoming Environment
I’ll be honest… one of the worst things about the outdoor shop scene is the bro/bra attitude. A lot of times you walk into the shop, and there’s a sense of “get out of my backyard!” Pedal Forward isn’t like that at all. Their story is an uplifting one from the turbulent pandemic. Furloughed by a lodge in town, they followed their dream and opened in 2020.
Support The Local Scene
Even if you don’t need a new bike or parts, stop by and say hi. Better yet, buy a t-shirt or some stickers of the trails you’re going to ride. Mike and Jorge are more than happy to give you the scoop on the Bass Lake Mountain Biking trail system as well as the surrounding area. Be sure to let them know Local Freshies® sent ya!
All Thanks To The YSGTC
Trails don’t keep maintained by themselves. You need volunteers and a passionate group of souls willing to work with the USFS and other government agencies to make this happen. While the riding is fun, all this additional blood, sweat, and beers MAKES the Bass Lake mountain biking scene happen. In this region, it’s the Yosemite South Gate Trail Cooperative. At a minimum, give them a like on Facebook or make a one-time donation under the Membership tab.
With an idea of what to expect, we head to the trailhead the next morning. The day dawns a bit chilly with a chance of rain. Winding around the northern side of Bass Lake, only a boat or two are out this early in the morning. The glassy waters reflect Goat Mountain on the other side. Before heading over to the trailhead, we stop at Ducey’s located within the Pines Resort for a leisurely breakfast. The restaurant itself overlooks Bass Lake.
Upscale With A Welcoming Feel
The dark wood interior harkens back to my childhood and visiting Union Pier Michigan. A bit of a mix where a welcoming 1940’s country club meets a relaxed lakeside resort atmosphere. Since today we’re mountain biking, I carb load and pick the Rice Krispy crusted French Toast. Despite sounding overly sweet, it isn’t. The chef makes sure that it’s balanced and more European like a danish with Bavarian cream than a donut.
Call Me Bond. James Bond.
With our stomachs full, we venture to the trailhead. Less than ten minutes away, we pull up to the northeastern tip of Bass Lake at the intersection of 274 and Central Camp Road. Parking across the street we gear up. The first thing to know is that the 007 trail has MULTIPLE sections. From what we can tell, there’s AT LEAST six. With a time constraint, we plan on getting up to level 3.
You can of course climb the actual trail, but since we got a leisurely start, we decide to follow Central Camp Road. This might be one of the EASIEST ascents a mountain biker can do. The low angle climb is about five miles long and slowly ratchets up to 1,000 vertical feet of gain. If you do it at a descent pace, you can get to the top of this level in about 45 minutes. The views off of Central Camp Road are worth the ride too. In between the dense covered forests, you’ll get glimpses of Shuteye Peak, the highest mountain in the region at over 8,000+ feet.
As we continue to ascend, the dense oak forests transition to more evergreen trees. Unbeknownst to us, the LONGEST climb of the entire day is the first one. To our left, we’re given glimpses of Bass Lake now more than 1,500 feet below us. Like a carrot dangling in front of a rabbit, our pace begins to quicken. The second ascent climbs about another 500 feet of vertical and a little less than half the distance.
We look up the 007 Third Level ending, and we can tell that Pedal Forward’s indication that this section is the rowdiest is definitely true. Since this is out first ride in the area, we make the decision to hit Octopussy instead. This is an alternative option for the third level. We make the final tight switchback turn and head forward, zipping by the entrance where a truck was sitting. Stopping for a second and looking at the map, we realize that the huge opening for parking is the entrance to the trail.
Down The Rabbit Hole We Go!
Slapping on our pads. Clipping on our helmets. We look at each other and grin nervously. What does the Bass Lake Mountain Biking trail have in store for us? We make a few mellow turns through tight manzanitas and take the path to the right for Octopussy. The fun ratchets up to 11 almost immediately.
The manzanitas hang over the trail barely wide enough to allow a person through. This adds a sense of excitement as we take the first tight switchbacks leading to a rock garden. Boulders strewn the trail that reminds me of our home trail called Cold Creek. They bounce us down the mountain like we aren’t in control (but we are). I yelp out of excitement.
007 Second Level
Zipping out of Octopussy, we slap high-fives. Man oh man! We cut over to the 2nd level. Immediately we’re greeted to the mountain bike version of rocky road ice cream. Not too steep. Not too bouldery. Just right to keep you entertained and challenged. Not knowing which way to go, we end up taking the right at the fork leading us to the lookup point on the lake. We heard later that if you go left, it’ll feature more techy goodness.
Last, But Not Certainly Least – 007 Level 1
The first two sections were quick hits that took ten minutes each since we didn’t know the area. Almost like warm-ups. If there’s one section EVERYONE should do, it’s 007 Level 1. HOLY MOLY! The hits just keep coming throughout its full descent. It has EVERYTHING you can imagine.
What To Expect On 007 Level 1
Smooth flowy sections. Countless tight banked corners. A bunch of water bar jumps / roll overs. Rock gardens that you can hit at a descent clip. Techy sections that you need to navigate correctly. Even a tight trench that’s maybe as wide as your shoulders or at least feels that way.
Rowdy Fun For Everyone
Finally at the end, I can’t hold back the sheer joy. I yell out for everyone to hear even those in the water on Bass Lake. It literally had everything and forced me out of my comfort zone. Are there more difficult trails? Absolutely. This isn’t about extreme to the limits. Rather, it’s a perfect trail for intermediates to push themselves and experts to get after it.
Taking It All In
Sitting at the car for a moment, we both smile. Man this was fun. Jaime pulls out the trail map and we look over ALL the trails that it has. Goat Mountain. Blind Squirrel. We make a promise to ourselves we’ll come back and spend an entire week hitting ALL the Bass Lake mountain biking trails.
Things To Know
Since the area is still new to mountain biking, these trails are NOT marked. It’s a good idea to have a trail map and GPS running (like Strava or Trailforks) to help you figure out where the entrances are located. Also, be sure to keep in mind WHERE each section starts and ends on the road.