Peoria Mountain is at the south end of the New Melones Dam. The area is under the jurisdiction of the US Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and is accessed from the end off Shell Road which in turn is accessed off of Rawhide Road just north of Jamestown. There is some street parking at the gate at the end of Shell Road, or proceed on the dirt road past the gate to a dirt lot used mostly by rock climbers and hikers using the Table Mountain Trail. A trail map is available from BOR.
The access road is dirt and starts as a wide tangle of tracks forged by vehicles trying to avoid the mud bogs of previous tracks. It’s a bumpy mess in a car, but rather like a mega motocross track on a bike. Past the Table Mountain lot, the gates are locked, so the bike ride is car-free. The road heads west along the south end of the lake and then turns north through another gate as the Peoria Ridge Trail toward Peoria Mountain. I used to bring my kids here when they were younger (seven +). The hills aren’t terribly steep or long, so if your kids are up to it, it’s a good place to work on basic mountain bike skills.
The terrain and trail conditions change as the road approaches Peoria Mountain. The Peoria Mountain trail gets steep with one rocky and eroded section on the way up, but the views of the lake and river canyon from the top are worth the work.
There are two potential loops at the end–the Peoria Mountain Trail continues and descends at a crazy-steep slope to an equestrian staging/ parking area at the end of New Peoria Flat Road. The trail is crossed by deep ditches instead of water bars. The trail is open to bikes, but it is really more of a horse trail. For most riders the Peoria Mountain Trail will make a better out-and-back with a turn around after the dam overview area.
There is another two-track road that descends from the Peoria Mountain Trail to the Green Springs Trail. The upper end of this road is also very steep and badly eroded with lots of loose rock. If you decide to descend or scramble down to New Peoria Flat Road, the mostly single-track Green Springs Trail has a couple of challenging sections, and provides an alternate route back to the Peoria Ridge Trail and Shell Road.
Download file to view the rides on the Google Earth bike map
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- Downside—Out-and-back unless you’re up for some challenging riding/scrambling to make a loop, very hot in summer.
- Upside—Very scenic with a mix of oak woodland, lake, river canyon, and Table Mountain views.
- 11 miles out-and-back to Peoria Mountain and dam overlook
- About 1,800 feet total climb
- roads and trails: dirt
- terrain: rolling to mountainous
- tires: cross to mountain
- seasons: all, with precautions for summer heat
- current weather