Bullards Bar Trails


Trail overview

A great trail with year around riding. The trails are carved into a deeply forested hillside and skirt the edge of the lake shoreline on narrow winding rolling single-track. There are a number of routes to choose from.

Trail Map

The south end from Dark Day to the Vista Point is a little wider and less intimidating for beginners and bikers not use to single-track and steep drop-offs.

There is poison oak in abundance but the trail is usually kept trimmed. Large Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Fir along with the Oak and Madrone trees have a dense canopy over most the trail providing a deep shade. This with small creek crossings covered in moss and ferns and lake views make this one of my favorite trails…especially for winter riding. Originally built for mining tailing control this dam was rebuilt in 1969 and is the 2nd highest dam in CA., and the 6th highest dam in the US. It's 194 feet tall and floods 4790 acres {about 8 square miles}. Its name is the New Bullards Bar Reservior although most folks just call it Bullards Bar.

Access to the trailhead

From Nevada City Take Hwy. 49 north. It's a 30-minute drive from Nevada City to the Marysville Road.

Start spots

Depending on which trail route you want to take the favorite start spots are Rebel Ridge store, Dark day road turn off, Dark Day boat launch and campgrounds, or the Vista Point.

Bike routes and favorite loops

Beginners will want to ride between the Vista Point and Dark Day Picnic and Boat Launch area.

For folks that want to do all the trails in one loop start at the Vista Point and ride the 8 Ball to Rebel Ridge Trail, to Bullards Bar Trail, then up the 7 Ball Trail, then back on the 8 Ball trail past the Rebel Ridge Trail to the Rebel Ridge Store and up the Old Camptonville Road to the Bullards Bar Trail, and then back to the Vista Point. Wew!

I started at Rebel Ridge the other day and dropped down to the Bullards Bar Trail, headed to the Vista Point and looped back on Marysville Road and the 8 Ball trail. That was a 16 mile loop...very nice.

I like starting at the Dark Day and Marysville Road intersection. Take the 8 Ball Trail to the 7 Ball, then you can drop down the 7 Ball or continue to Rebel Ridge trail. Then drop to Bullards Bar trail and head to the Vista Point. There are a number of ways to loop back...

Another cool place to start is at the Rebel Ridge Store. Park near the store and access the northeast end of the Bullards Bar Trail and ride to the Vista Point, then take the 8 Ball Trail back to finish the loop.

Bullards Bar Trail:

13 miles long. This is the lake trail and runs from the northeast end of the lake to the Vista Point (south end).

To access the north end take the Old Camptonville Rd which starts near the Rebel Ridge store {sorry but Doc Willy's burned down}. After passing some houses the Old Camptonville Rd. turns to dirt and in about a mile there is a slight downhill. Look for the trailhead on the left.

Riding Up Hill There's an 800 ft. elevation change as you drop down to lake level on winding single-track. Bullards Bar Trail contours along the lake heading south through dense forest on a steep and narrow single-track. The lakeshore is accessible only in certain areas because of the steep 45-degree hillside grade. There are occasional trails that drop to the lakeshore at scenic spots if you look for them.

Its about 3 miles to the Rebel Ridge Trail and a few more to the 7 Ball Trail intersection. The Dark Day boat launch area is another mile.

At the boat launch you will want to cross the parking area to the other side where you will pick up the trail again. Just a short section of single-track and then you will drop down a short paved road towards the Dark Day picnic area. The Bullards Bar trail continues to the left (south). From here to the Vista Point the trail is a little wider and not so steeply rolling.

It's another 5 miles to the Vista Point from the boat launch. After the School House Trail intersection there is a point where you come onto a dirt road. You will want to keep to the right around the bend to stay on the trail.

The picnic area is a good place to stop and recoup. There is water and outhouse facilities available here, as well as a easy place to access the water for some summer swimming.

8 Ball Trail:

Above Dark Day 3.5 miles long. This trail runs along the north side of Marysville Road from the School House Campground {look for it where it starts at the intersection of School House campground and Marysville Road} to the 7 Ball Trail. Here it switches to the other side of Marysville Road to the Rebel Ridge Trail.

The 8 Ball Trail is best from where it crosses over Dark Day Road heading northeast to the 7 Ball Trail. Heading this direction its uphill as you follow the road but you are back in the forest where the Marysville Road isn't visible which is nice. A little over a mile it spits you out at the Old Scaling Station and the top of the 7 Ball Trail.

7 Ball Trail:

This is a great 1 mile long trail that drops you down to the Bullards Bar Trail. A 550 ft. drop on a narrow single-track with switchbacks makes this trail a delight to ride.

Rebel Ridge Trail:

Rebel Ridge Trail 1.6 miles long Possibly more switchbacks on this trail than any other in the Tahoe National Forest! I thought I counted 20 switchbacks, but I was having so much fun I lost count…that's what always happens. I enjoy going up or down this trail. It's a 600 ft drop on narrow winding trail. The best!

School House Trail:

This is the easiest trail to climb from Bullards Bar Trail out of the lake canyon to Marysville Road. It's a mile long with 500 ft of drop. Nothing to special about this trail. At school House Campgrounds the trail starts at camp # 13.

Trail hazards and critter report

These trails have quite a bit of poison oak but its usually trimmed back from the trail. So as long as you stay on your bike you can avoid it.

There are steep lakeshore edges along a few spots on the northeastern part of Bullards Bar Trail. (No trees to grab in case you fall.) This section of trail is rather remote too.

As far as critters, be aware that there are rattlesnakes especial near the shoreline in the driftwood. In the spring there are ticks. I find them mostly on the grassy areas of the trail. I check myself every 15 minutes I ride. And there are mosquitos in the late spring and early summer. Of course they don't bother you if you don't stop. Watch for salamanders, millepedes, slugs and other small critters on the trail. Enjoy

-The Fish