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From the outside looking in, it is probably hard to imagine a California beyond its iconic coastal megalopolises. Even for the residents it’s hard to fathom parts of the state so remote that their formal name could include the adjective “Lost.” Yet, Downieville–home to the famed Downieville Classic Mountain Bike race–sits in the heart of California’s Lost Sierra. At an hour north of the northern edge of Lake Tahoe, Downieville is indeed remote terrain.
It sprang to life in September 1849 when Francis Anderson struck gold at the confluence of the North Fork of the Yuba and Downie Rivers. Named for its founder William Downie, a Scottish expeditionary miner, Downieville sits in the Northern Mines route of California’s famed 19th century gold rush. Those mines, and their once thriving towns and camps, have long since disappeared, leaving behind a few ghost towns and lots of wild backcountry.
Follow the rest of the story and photo gallery at clif.downieville.pelotonmagazine.com.