|Length||7.9 miles one-way|
|+1000, -1250 one-way|
|Navigation||Road and marked trail|
|Time||Most of a day|
|Season||Late December through early April|
|Snowmobiles Use||Varies from moderate to high between mileage points 1 and 2 depending on day of week and time of day, moderate between mileage points 6 and 7, and not permitted elsewhere. [Please report illegal use of snowmobiles in this area.]|
|USGS Topo||7.5' series, Sattley, Calpine, Clio, Haypress Valley|
|Start||Yuba Pass Sno-Park on Highway 49, 11 miles east of Sierra City.|
The marked Lunch Creek ski trail follows roads its entire length as it makes a giant loop to the north of Highway 49 in the Yuba Pass area. It passes predominantly through timber with good views where the roads cut across hillsides. The roads are easy to follow except for two very flat sections; one at the start and the other along Beartrap Meadow. But all the roads are marked with blue diamonds and arrows.
The initial trail marking was done by the now defunct Skiers and Hikers for Outdoor Enjoyment (SHOE) and it was remarked by the Nordic Voice, the predecessor of Snowlands Network.
Although rated intermediate in difficulty, this tour is a good choice for beginner-intermediate skiers who want to taste a moderately long, but not difficult tour. Navigation is relatively simple and the terrain is generally mild. However, there is one short, steep section on a narrow road, but if you ski the tour in the direction described it it will be uphill, which is the preferential direction for most skiers.
As described in the mileage log, it is possible to connect the Lunch Creek tour with the Three Knobs 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.
The Yuba Pass area is a very popular snowmobile area, but the Lunch Creek tour is an ideal way to minimize contact with them. Of the 7.9 miles of trail, only 2.4 miles coincide with snowmobile trails while 5.5 miles are designated non-motorized.
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.
Waypoint 1 to 2
Miles: 0.0 - 1.0
Elevation change: +100, -150 feet
From the trailhead (1) ski north on the snow-covered road for 1.0 mile until you reach a fork in the road (2). It would be difficult to exactly follow the road, which is very flat for the first 0.4 mile, if it were not groomed for snowmobile use. Beyond the first 0.4 mile the road is very obvious as it cuts across a hillside.
At the fork the snowmobile route goes left and the ski route goes right.
Waypoint 2 to 3
Miles: 1.0 - 1.5
Elevation change: -150 feet
Ski on the east (right) fork for 0.5 mile until you reach a location where the road turns north and a minor ridge heads southeast (3). Yuba Pass Vista is located 200 feet out on the minor ridge.
Waypoint 3 to 4
Miles: 1.5 - 2.0
Elevation change: +100 feet
Ski north for 0.5 mile until you reach a location where the road no longer traverses a hillside, the terrain is more open, and just ahead the road starts to climb gradually into the trees (4). This location is well marked with arrows indicating a turn to the northwest (left).
Waypoint 4 to 5
Miles: 2.0 - 2.8
Elevation change: +400 feet
Turn northwest (left) and ski on the snow-covered road for 0.8 mile until you reach a fork in the road (5) located to the southwest of a small knob (Peak 7028) . For the first 0.4 mile the road climbs very gradually and the markers will help you follow it. The final 0.4 mile is the steepest section of the entire tour.
Waypoint 5 to 6
Miles: 2.8 - 3.4
Elevation change: +200 feet
Continue on the west (left) fork for 0.6 mile until you reach a road junction and the snowmobile route (6). The start of this section of road is very obvious because the road makes a sharp left turn and then a sharp right turn before leveling out.
To connect with the Three Knobs tour, turn south (left) and follow the road and snowmobile trail for 0.2 mile until you reach a road junction (21). The road junction will not be obvious; look for signs indicating that the Three Knobs route is to the west (right). Turn west (right) and follow the snow-covered road for 200 feet until you reach more signs and the Three Knobs route (20). At this point the Three Knobs route continues in two directions: west (straight) on the road and south (left) on a marked section of trail.
The following description continues on the Lunch Creek tour.
Waypoint 6 to 7
Miles: 3.4 - 4.8
Elevation change: +50, -250 feet
Ski west (straight) on the road and the combined ski and snowmobile trail for 1.4 miles until you reach a major road junction (7). During most of this distance you will be paralleling Beartrap Meadow and at times it may be difficult to discern the road; look for the blue diamond markers if in doubt. The route will also probably be groomed for snowmobiles.
Waypoint 7 to 8
Miles: 4.8 - 5.6
Elevation change: +100, -100 feet
Make a 180 degree turn to the southeast (left) and ski on a wide road in a generally southerly direction for 0.8 mile until you reach a high point (8). In this section you will first descend to a low point where you cross the Beartrap Meadow outflow. This section marks the beginning of 3.1 miles of road closed to snowmobiles.
Waypoint 8 to 9
Miles: 5.6 - 6.2
Elevation change: +50, -150 feet
Continue generally south on the road, at first descending and then climbing, for 0.6 mile until you reach a high point (9). At the high point, to the east (left) the Three Knobs tour intersects the road you are skiing on.
Waypoint 9 to 10
Miles: 6.2 - 7.9
Elevation change: -450 feet
Continue generally south on the major road for 1.7 miles until you reach a road junction (11) and then turn south (right) and ski 200 feet until you reach Highway 49 (10).