Three Knobs


Summary

Difficulty 3 Intermediate
Length 5.3 miles round trip
Starting
Elevation
6450 feet
Cumulative
Elevation
Change
+950, -950 round trip
Navigation Road, marked trail, map and compass
Time Most of a day
Season Late December through early April
Snowmobiles Not permitted. [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]
USGS Topo 7.5' series, Haypress Valley, Clio, Calpine
Start On Highway 49, 1.1 miles west of Yuba Pass.


Description

The Three Knobs tour is a challenging intermediate tour offering a broad array of terrain. Although it is relatively short, only 5.3 miles, the steep sections and navigation challenges will slow your pace. In return for the extra effort it takes to complete the Three Knobs route you are rewarded with a tour full of varied terrain where snowmobiles are prohibited.

At times the roads followed are very difficult to discern making it is necessary to carefully follow the markers and/or refer to your map and compass. The 0.8 mile of the route that does not follow a road, but is marked, cuts through meadows as well as through sparse and dense woods.

Unfortunately, at the time of the writing of this tour description many of the blue diamond markers have fallen from trees and the paint has peeled from signs. Regardless, the description given here can be used to successfully follow the route. You can retrace your path if at some point you cannot find the route forward.

The Three Knobs tour is described in a counterclockwise direction and in this direction the steepest sections, on a very narrow road, are all uphill. In the first 0.5 mile you climb 350 feet and in the next 0.6 mile you climb 250 feet.

The steepness of the tour combined with the navigation challenge make the Three Knobs tour significantly more difficult than it's nearby cousin the Lunch Creek tour although they are both rated intermediate; the Lunch Creek tour is on the easy end of intermediate and the Three Knobs tour is on the difficult end of intermediate.

As described in the mileage log, it is possible to connect the Three Knobs tour with the Lunch Creek tour to create an assortment of interesting tours. The Beartrap Meadow Loop tour is one example and combines the less steep sections of the Three Knobs tour with a portion of the Lunch Creek tour.

Lodging is available in Downieville with its historic main street and in Sierra City which is nearer to Yuba Pass. But Yuba Pass is only 35 miles away from Truckee. The drive passes through the little town of Sierraville and not much else as it winds through the undeveloped mountains north of Tahoe.

The Three Knobs trail was marked by the Nordic Voice, the predecessor of Snowlands Network.

Mileage Log
Numbers in parentheses
correspond to mileage points on map

Miles: 0.0 - 0.0
Elevation change: Nil

From the trailhead (10) ski north on the snow-covered road for 200 feet until you reach a fork in the road (11). Here the larger road makes a sharp turn to the west (left) while the tour continues north (straight).

Miles: 0.0 - 0.5
Elevation change: +350 feet

Continue north (straight) on a very narrow road for 0.5 mile until you reach the second sharp left turn (12).

Miles: 0.5 - 1.1
Elevation change: +250 feet

Continue northeast on the narrow and steep road for 0.6 mile until you reach a road junction (13) located to the south of a small knob.

Miles: 1.1 - 1.2
Elevation change: -50 feet

Continue on the road in a generally northeast direction for 0.1 mile until you reach the open area where Lunch Creek is located (14).

Miles: 1.2 - 1.4
Elevation change: +50 feet

Ski northeast (right) uphill through the meadow where Lunch Creek is located for 0.2 mile until you reach three dead trees (15).

Miles: 1.4 - 1.4
Elevation change: Nil

Turn northwest (left), ski through a few trees into an adjacent clearing for about 200 feet until you reach a single snag with an arrow pointing to where the route enters the trees (16).

Miles: 1.4 - 1.5
Elevation change: +50 feet

Turn northeast (right) and ski through the clearing and into the woods for a total of 0.1 mile until you reach a snow-covered road (17). The road is very small at this point and difficult to discern. Be sure to follow the arrows in this section.

Miles: 1.5 - 1.7
Elevation change: +50 feet

Follow the road and marked trail northeast for 0.2 mile until you reach the trail sign indicating that the route turns north (left) (18). You have passed this point by about 200 feet if you encounter a road junction and the groomed snowmobile trail (mileage point 19).

Miles: 1.7 - 1.9
Elevation change: +150 feet

Turn north (left) off the road and ski through scattered woods for 0.2 mile until you reach an east-west snow-covered road (20). The signs at this point are unreadable because the paint has peeled. In this section you are paralleling the snowmobile route located a short distance to the east.

To connect with the Lunch Creek tour, ski east (right) on the snow-covered road for 200 feet to a road junction and groomed snowmobile trail (21), and then ski north (left) on the snowmobile trail for 0.2 mile until you reach the Lunch Creek tour (6).

The following description continues on the Three Knobs tour.

Miles: 1.9 - 2.2
Elevation change: Nil

Ski west (left) on the snow-covered road for 0.3 mile until you reach a trail marker indicating that you leave the road to the north (right) (22). A small open area is located 75 feet beyond this point and the road begins to curve to the north. Backtrack to the trail marker if you reach this point.

Miles: 2.2 - 2.4
Elevation change: +50 feet

Turn northeast (right) off the road and follow the marked trail around the north side of a knob for 0.2 mile until you reach the knob's southwest side where the marked trail leaves the woods and enters more open terrain (25). This point is just north of a broad ridgetop. Many of the blue diamonds have fallen off trees in this section making the marked route difficult to follow. Waypoints 23 and 24 are provided for additional help in navigating with a GPS.

Miles: 2.4 - 2.5
Elevation change: -50 feet

Ski west along the open, north (right) side of the ridge and then down what may appear to be a very small road for a total of 0.1 mile until you reach a large snow-covered road (26). On the ridgetop there is a wooden arrow in a tree indicating the direction in which you must ski to descend the ridge. Regardless, this section takes careful navigation.

Miles: 2.5 - 3.1
Elevation change: -200 feet

Ski west on the snow-covered road for 0.6 mile until you reach a road junction (27). There is a sharp right turn in the road 0.1 mile before reaching the road junction and in the 0.1 mile before reaching the turn the road is very difficult to discern. Look for the markers.

Miles: 3.1 - 3.7
Elevation change: -200 feet

Turn south (left) and follow the snow-covered road for 0.6 mile until you reach a very large snow-covered road (9). There is a Y in the road 0.1 mile before reaching the large road. Make sure you follow the west (right) fork if you see the Y. The large road that you intersect is part of the Lunch Creek tour.

Miles: 3.7 - 5.3
Elevation change: -450 feet

Turn east (left) onto the large rosad and follow it generally south for 1.6 miles until you reach a road junction (11) and then turn south (right) and ski 200 feet until you reach Highway 49 (10).

Elevation Profile
Elevation profile
Link to elevation profile
Link to waypoint data
Map 1 for tour Map 2 for tour
Link to full page map
Link to see and submit reviews and corrections about tour