KickStand, BananaSeat, DangerBoy, and Ben rode Red Hills on December 22nd.
The Red Hills is a region of 7,100 acres of public land located just south of the historic town of Chinese Camp in Tuolumne County. The Red Hills are noticeably different from the surrounding countryside. The natural serpentine in the area causes the plant assemblage to be limited to those species that are tolerant of such minerals. Included among the buckbrush and gray pine is a rich diversity of annual wildflowers that put on a showy display every spring. The endangered bald eagle is a winter resident of the area.
We’ve been riding Red Hills for years, collectively, and have gotten used to the way that new trails seem to pop up out of nowhere every time we ride there. Trail signage (and mapping) is less-than-clear and the only way you’ll really get to know where you’ve ended up is to make your own map in your head by riding all of the trails and/or by keeping a watchful eye on your surrounding landmarks.
Red Hills is rocky. Usually, climbs are loose, descents are loose, and only a fraction of the rolling areas are smooth and rock-free. When we rode, however, it was obvious that someone had been hard at work, removing much of the rock and improving the trails. Much of the stuff we hadn’t been able to ride in the past was built up and made smooth and rideable. We got lost and found a narrow track through a section of rolling grassy hills and oak trees that brought us out to a parking area that we figure must be the access to Red Hills from Highway J-59.
All in all, Red HIlls didn’t disappoint and delivered everything we expected in terms of technical cross-country riding. Steep and rocky ascents with plenty of technical downhill as a reward.
Red Hills is really good as of now, get out there before the next storm exposes all of the loose rock that’s just been smoothed over.