Sierra Nevada Adventures Single Day Rides

Covered Bridge Ride


Covered Bridge Adventure ride EXPLORES the perfect combination of curvy back roads, single-lane goat roads, and scenic OFF-ROAD routes to the historic Knights Ferry Covered Bridge. California's longest-covered bridge stands frozen in time across the Stanislaus River from a bygone era when ADVENTUROUS gold-seekers traveled during the California Gold Rush.

When gold was discovered in California in 1849, Dr. William Knight rediscovered a pass he had crossed with John C. Fremont and established a ferry boat there. Soon, the ferry boat prospered and Knight and Captain Vantine built a hotel and trading post near the crossing. Knight was killed by a gunfight on the town’s main street and he was buried in an unmarked grave. Knight’s family believed Dr. Knight was stabbed to death in his bed and was buried near the gate in the yard of John Dent’s house, which was Dr. Knight’s place at the time. The Dents immediately took possession of Bill Knight’s property at Knights Ferry following the murder.  After Knight's death, Vantine operated the ferry alone until he formed another collaboration with John and Lewis Dent. In 1852, Vantine sold his properties in the area to the Dents and moved elsewhere. A new townsite under the name of “Dentville” was laid out by John Dent. The inhabitants continued to call the town “Knights Ferry” and “Knights Crossing”. In 1852 a toll bridge replaced the ferry.

From there Vantine partnered with a local, Dent, and the old whaling ferry was replaced with a more modern ferry. In 1854 Knights Ferry saw another substantial business go up as David Locke set up a flour mill (the ruins of which can still be seen today). As the flour mill became a huge success, Locke eventually bought out Dent and retained the control of crossing the Stanislaus at Knights Ferry. Instead of keeping the ferry, however, Locke brought the idea of a bridge to the people of Knights Ferry, and in early 1857 the first bridge spanning over the river in Knights Ferry became functional. This bridge, however, is not the bridge that is seen today. Under conditions that now seem unfathomable, a heavy winter and an early warm spring rain created an abundance of water in the Stanislaus, and floodwaters raged through Knights Ferry at levels that were close to 35 feet over present-day low watermarks (As you raft between the two bluffs, the river nearly reached the tops of the cliffs during the spring of 1862!).

Fortunately, the bridge was built sturdily, and the water could not take it down. Unfortunately, the bridge upriver at the two-mile bar was not built as sturdily and eventually washed down and destroyed the old Knights Ferry Bridge. This series of events led to the creation of the bridge that can still be seen in Eastern Knights Ferry. The present-day covered bridge (which is a must-see if you are in the area) built in 1863, spans 330 feet, and is the longest covered bridge west of the Mississippi. As successful as the building of the new bridge was, however, Knights Ferry’s prosperity that was seen during the gold rush began to fade, as commercial roots began to move closer to Oakdale and Modesto. In 1871 Knights Ferry relinquished its status as the center of government for Stanislaus County, and when the Stockton-Visalia railroad station was posted in Oakdale, Knight's Ferry quickly lost the power it once held when it controlled the river crossing. Eventually, Locke sold the flour mill, and the mill was eventually transformed into a power plant owned by Stanislaus County. So too the county bought the rights to the covered bridge in the mid-1880s. As the 20th century rolled in, Knights Ferry gradually moved away from the limelight and became the community it is today.

Many of the relics of the gold rush, the old mill, the covered bridge, the fire station, as well as general stores and hotels, can still be seen in present-day Knight's Ferry. The general store has been in operation for over 100 years as well as the local bed and breakfast. A makeshift iron jail that is over a century old resides to the east of the “center” of town- although this is (thankfully) no longer in use. The covered bridge, which has undergone a few renovations since its building, is closed to automotive traffic (even after nearly 100 years the bridge still easily could carry machines that were unimagined at the time of its building!), but the public is still welcome to cross the bridge on foot. Today Knight's Ferry is a small tight-knit community that varies its look depending on what time of year you visit. During the later fall months, as the Stanislaus River begins to drop, one can see the salmon run upstream as they molt. Nearly extinct in the early 1990s, local park and recreation efforts have created environments in which the salmon now thrive. During the spring and summer months, the Stanislaus River swells and provides an excellent place for amateurs and locals to test their rafting skills, and the popular Knight's Ferry to Orange Blossom rafting run.

Event Details:

Single-Day Tour: (15 to 20 riders with 20 riders max)
This adventure ride is designed for (650cc+) to (1250cc+) dual-sport adventure bikes.
Off-road terrain is rated mild to moderate and lots of adventure.
Ride distance approx. 200 miles round trip (65 miles dirt roads)
Gas stops (125-mile range required)

MEETING TIME: 8:30 a.m. (ride starts at 9:00 a.m.) 
MEETING LOCATION: Starbucks in Folsom CA.
195 Placerville Road Folsom CA. 95630
Arrive in the morning with a full tank of gas.
Ride returns to Folsom CA. (approx 5:00 p.m.)

MEALS: (Meals not included)
Bring water, snacks, and lunch.

OPTIONAL HOTEL Prior to Event: (Hotel not included)
Riders are responsible to book their hotel reservations.
-Hampton Inn and Suites Folsom, CA 155 Placerville Rd, Folsom, CA 95630 (916) 235-7744
Additional hotels are available in Folsom CA.
Truck/trailering your bike? Parking is available at the meeting location.

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