The Decker and Grouse creek drainages are tributaries of the Yuba River, which wraps around Atlanta Hill south of the “town” of Atlanta. Note that there are some access issues due to washouts on the Yuba River (see below). The Atlanta Region overview provides a lot of general information about the area. The Grouse Creek Trail is open to ATVs and has a few lakes at the head of the canyon. The Decker Creek Trail is singletrack and a better hiking option. This particular adventure was a done on a mountain bike loop out of Atlanta.
Decker Creek drains the southeast corner of the Yuba River drainage. The mining town of Yuba City was once located at the mouth of Trail and Decker creeks, but it has long since vanished. Fires in 2000 and 2003 swept through at least three quarters of the drainage, leaving nothing but a forest of ghostly tree trunks. After 12 years of recovery a few small saplings are beginning to appear among the thick underbrush.
The upper half of Decker Creek was spared from the burn, so the hike/bike offers an interesting opportunity to transition from a stark, sun-baked, and fire-ravaged landscape to the seemingly lush and shady confines of a healthy forest. The upper canyon offers a combination of dense forest and open wildflower meadows.
Due to washouts on the Yuba River and Decker Creek roads, the trailheads to both Grouse and Decker creeks are not accessible by car. Hikers must walk (or ride) an additional 1.8 miles from the junction of Trail Creek and Decker Creek. If the McGuire washout is not repaired, an additional 2.7 miles will be necessary. For this reason, these canyons are better explored on a mountain bike, motorcycle, or ATV (Grouse Creek only).
Decker and Grouse creeks are connected by the steep switchbacking Senator Creek Trail over their shared divide, which makes a convenient loop. For bikers who want a longer ride without driving from Atlanta, climb up the Montezuma Creek mining road to divide with Flint Creek. From here, the Flint Creek trail traverses through the burn into Decker Creek. After riding up Decker and down Grouse, follow the Yuba River down to the Middle Fork and back to Atlanta for a loop that is 19.8 miles long and has 3,986 feet of elevation gain. The riding up Decker is moderate singletrack, while Grouse Creek contains a wide two-track ATV trail. Decker also connects over the divide to Willow Creek for longer adventure rides into the South Fork of the Boise River drainages.
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