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Level: Advanced
Length: 6 mi (9.7 km)
Surface: Fire Road
Configuration: Network
Elevation: +2,555/ -2,281 ft
Total: 32 riders

Mountain Biking Top Of The World

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#118 of 1,003 mountain bike trails in California
#1,603 in the world

The Western Interface Recreation Trails known locally as Top of the World are located just west of Highway 4, between Avery and Arnold, California. The area is managed by the Calaveras Ranger District of the US Forest Service. *There exists a Northern area of this trail system, north of White Pines Lake, which allows motorized access throughout. This area is separate from this listing;details are not included.

Overall Description: This trail system is for me what MTB is all about. It's got a little something for everyone through some absolutely gorgeous terrain. Want a smooth jaunt with the family? Check. Want some heavy climbing? Check. Want smooth flowing singletrack? It's there. Want some black diamond technical stuff? Yup. Want a ~3 mile downhill run? Got that too. (several, though not necessarily all in one piece.) Want some scenery that'll make you go 'ooh?' It's there everywhere... Elevations range from ~3350' to almost 4400.'

Suggested Route: Depends on what you want, but for starters, stop at the ranger station linked above and grab a paper map. Document# 'MAP ROD-1' titled 'Interface Decision Map - Interface Recreation Trails Project Area Map.' Start at the southern end, off Avery Sheep Ranch Road, approx 1.5 miles west of hwy4. The ranger overseeing the new trail construction has hilit a 'blue route' on the map, with matching blue arrows on the trail signs at every intersection. This route will carry you through the entire length of the network, grabbing a ton of great singletrack and most of the peaks including Cougar Rock and Top of the World. At the time of this writing, a new track is in the planning/early construction stages which will connect Top of the World with Manuel Peak and the Waterfall Overlook. The route was designed to not exceed intermediate skill, however numerous diamond runs are available either directly connected, or near to the blue route. In general, the trails & roads on the east side of the network are flatter and avoid heavy climbs, while the further west you proceed, the more abrubt the climbs. This can be handy on the return trip if you find yourself out of energy, as you can return via the fire roads on the east side without any significant climbing (if you started at the south end.)

First added by Juan_Gear on Jun 25, 2005. Last updated May 11, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there

Top of the World aka Avery/Arnold Interface is located just west of Hwy 4 between Avery and Arnold California, about 70 (road) miles east of Stockton.

Access Options:
  • Avery: From Hwy 4 in Avery, turn West on Avery Sheep Ranch Road. Proceed West approx 1.5 miles to an unmarked (except for park info signs slighly off the road) dirt road on the right. (County Rd 323) Several parking areas are available at varying distances up this road on the left side.
  • Lake Mont Pines (Arnold): From Hwy 4, turn West on Lake Mont Drive. Turn left (SW) on Valley View Drive. Turn right (E) on Pine Lake Drive. Trailhead is at the end of the road at the residential circle. Alternatively, stay on LakeMont Drive. Follow to the northernmost end. Gated trailhead spurs north of LakeMont drive, just as it bends to return South.
  • Meadowmont (Arnold): From Hwy 4, turn West on Country Club Dr. Rt on Black Oak. Rt on Venado. Lt on Chapparal. Rt on Placer. Lt on Fairway Drive. Trailhead is west of intersection of Fairway and Nugget Ct.
  • White Pines (Arnold): From Hwy 4, turn NE on Blagen Rd. Trailhead and parking are near the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum at 1605 Blagen Rd, near the southern end of White Pines Lake.
Ranger Station: USDA Forest Service:
Calaveras Ranger District
5519 Highway 4, P.O. Box 500 Hathaway Pines, CA 95233
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Top Of The World Trail map

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Cali Swift (on Jun 20, 2020)
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Trail conditions

Good (on Jul 10, 2016)
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Mountain Bike Trails Near Arnold, California

Intermediate | 10 mi
Beginner | 12 mi

Rider questions

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  • danonash

    I made the mistake of reading a hiking review which stated this as easy, most definitely was not easy for a beginner like me. All that said it was fantastic it pushed me going upwards and the fast decents were supe fun and challenging for me. One you hit the top of the world every ache and pain is forgotten! Will be coming back. Big thanks to the people that look after these places!

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  • ****

    Only gets 4 star because the trail signage kinda sucks. A few things to know:
    1) Awesome awesome awesome views. Such a gorgeous ride. My man and I spent 7.5 hours all over the Arnold Rim Trail and Top of the World was a highlight you shouldn't miss!
    2) Get a trail map before you go. We got lost several times. One time was a 1.5 hour slog up and down an awful trail from hell that wasn't marked and should have been marked "Closed". Also, there is a right way to approach your ride - don't get stuck walking your bike up a 3 mile hill like we did. Plan ahead.
    3) If you're super ambitious and really strong, start off at Avery Sheep Ranch road (approx 2 mi west of Hwy 4) btw Avery & Arnold after grabbing your map from Ranger station in Avery (note station open M-F only - download and print hi res Arnold Rim Trail map before you go on a wknd and pay attention to topo map on google maps to plan it out). Plan to spend at least 4 hours and experience half super gnarly trails and half chill ones and lots of areas you'll need to walk your bike near summits.
    3a) If you're not that strong there is an inlet in neighborhood off valley view rd - ask locals how to get to Top of the world.
    4) Poison oak. If you're allergic buy the wash before you go at the market in Arnold. Ticks too! Check yourself over.
    5) As mentioned, the signage isn't good and the map not much better. There are designated MTB trails marked with more and most difficult. We did some of both but wish we'd known where they all were so we could plan ahead and hit them all.
    6) I'm a novice rider. Handled it okay, but I was out of my league. Thankfully my guy was with me to drag my bike up 3 mile hills when I bonked at the end. This isn't a place for beginners or young kids unless you do small portions of the trail. And make sure your bike is tuned up before you head out - you'll be burning up your rear brakes and first gear for sure.
    7) The most challenging routes were deemed such because they were so damned steep and slippery! Some parts has tons of rocks but not like fun boulders just loose rocks on steep parts. Several nice long downhill runs with little jumps for a breather if you plan it right. To get the best of that and not spend all day bike the fire road to top of the world, then double back kind of and head south back to your car on the long trail stretches - hitting some More and most difficult shortcuts along the way, down to the creek and back up to the hills before where you parked off Avery Sheep Ranch Rd.
    8) Stop at Snowshoe Brewing Co after the ride for your reward: Grizzly Bear Brown ale. :)

    We'll definitely be returning again and again - next time with a better plan/map, more sports drinks, GUs, maybe bug repellent, and better shoes for the hiking portions. :) Loved every second except the getting super lost part - but even that was totally worth how beautiful, challenging, and fun it was.

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  • Todd_Airola

    Mtn. bike here with my 12 yr. old son. He was extremely challenged and we probably hiked with our bikes as much as we rode them, but he was valiant in effort. AMAZING views and even he stated "it was worth it."

    If in the area, I highly recommend this ride!

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  • Xerien

    This is one of those trail systems that runs the entire range of emotions, from 'Wow' to 'Ow.' It's got everything from gentle, wide doubletrack & fireroads on the east side, to flowing but still beginner/intermediate singletrack, to some pretty gnarly technical singletrack to the northwest. The area is just gorgeous throughout. If I had to complain about something, it would have to be that it's too pretty; I kept having to stop to grab pictures, it was just that breathtaking.

    On your way to the system, stop at the ranger station at 5519 Hwy4, Hathaway Pines CA ((209) 795-1381), and request a paper map of "Arnold Interface," "Top of the World," or "Cougar Rock" Depending on the ranger, one of those will ring the right bell. :)
    I had the pleasure of meeting the ranger overseeing a trail crew cutting some new singletrack, who steered me onto some freshly cut trail (Arnold Rim Trail), and later to a wonderful waterfall overlook. Can't say for sure, but might have gotten (nearly) first tracks. The newly signed route has signposts with blue arrows matching a blue trace on the paper map, which covers the best of the best along the network. If/when you bonk, the return trip is made easier by sticking to the fireroads on the east side of the network.

    There's something here for every skill level. The fire roads are very doable by families with youngsters, and there are many black diamond spurs dropping to the sides of the main trails.
    * Review edited 7/11/2009

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  • DesertDragon

    This is an incredible network of fire roads that is off limits to motorized vehicles. The view from Top Of The World is beautiful. If you follow the ridge down about another half mile to the left you will get to Cougar Rock which is another spectacular view of the valley.

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