The Sugar Pine railroad grade makes a fine ten-mile (total) out-and-back bike ride for families or casual riders. The rail trail is wide and flat and easy. Expect springtime mud and summer/fall dust. At the Twain Harte end, the trail is more open and exposed. Look for views across the canyon to the north. At the Lyons end, the trail is down in the river canyon and the vegetation is lush on the north side of the canyon wall. Look for dogwood and big leaf maple for springtime flowering and fall color.
From Twain Harte, look for the start of the trail on the east side of Confidence South Fork Road just north of the intersection with Middle Camp Sugar Pine Road. There are a few parking spots scattered along the edge of Confidence South Fork Road and additional parking on the shoulder of Middle Camp Sugar Pine Road in front of the substation just west of Confidence South Fork Road. This trail gets a lot of use, so take the usual precautions about securing your vehicle with valuables out of sight. Look for the following sign and gate at the start of the trail. Welcome! This is it!
For a formal parking area with restroom, start at Lyons Reservoir. Access is via Lyons Reservoir Road off of SR 108 in Sierra Village. Follow the road from the parking area to the dam; the road turns into the trail as it continues past the dam.
If riding with kids, it’s a good idea to ride (very slightly) uphill from Twain Harte since whatever climbing you do will be on the way out instead of on the way back. There is a substantial washout on PG&E property about 2/3 of the way from Twain Harte. It is passable, but requires dismounting and walking bikes. Unsteady riders may need help with their bikes.
Lyons Reservoir is under PG&E jurisdiction but is open to the public for day use. Water contact is prohibited at Lyons, so it’s pretty much fishing, picnicking, hiking, and biking.
Ride with GPS map: Sugar Pine RR Twain Harte-Lyons (9 miles, 200 feet of climbing)
This is one of three Sugar Pine segments that form a continuous route along the South Fork Stanislaus from Old Strawberry Road in Strawberry to Confidence South Fork Road in Twain Harte. See the pages for the other South Fork Sugar Pine segments for additional description of the route:
- Downside—Limited parking at the Twain Harte end of the rail trail. Don’t look for helpful signage at either end of the trail–there is none, but once you are on the trail it’s pretty much impossible to get lost.
- Upside—Short quick ride out of Twain Harte, RR grade is a great trip for kids with lake and dam to explore, the elevation takes the temperature down a notch in summer heat.
- terrain: Very mild on RR grade.
- tires: cross to mountain, most will prefer mountain.
- seasons: Lyons Reservoir Road is subject to seasonal closure Dec 15–April 15.
- current weather