The Smith River in Del Norte County, California has a vast network of gravel roads and mountain bike trails. The Smith River Guide produced by the Six Rivers National Forest is an excellent resource and includes an overview map as well as descriptions of all the mountain bike trails. One major note- the guide shows a permanent road block on the 17N05 road, which was repaired the fall of 2020. This is an important road to access the Bear Basin Lookout from Highway 199 or to complete various gravel loops. Some of the scenic drives in the guide make good gravel exploration rides.
There are many reasons to visit the Smith River including:
Amazing forests of old growth trees and rare plants to view along your ride
Great swimming spots in crystal clear water after a hot ride
Scenic vistas at fire lookouts make great cycling destinations
Multiple campgrounds making great base camps or bikepacking stops
I started a Smith River Collection of routes on ridewithgps. This is a new format for me. Instead of describing each ride here as a separate blog post, the rides are grouped by zone and described in ridewithgps. I'm focusing on gravel and mountain bike routes in the Smith River Collection.
Clicking on the map below will take you to the collection too.