Description: A few miles off Interstate 80 in the Tahoe National Forest, this southeast facing site overlooks the North Fork American River canyon. This site, besides having a spectacular view, complements the others sites with flying during both the summer afternoon SW “delta breeze” and the stronger winter prefrontal SE winds. Access is via a paved road, and you can drive to within 50 yards of the flying site.
Location: This site is located about 28 miles and 39 minutes from Grass Valley, and is a little more than half way from Sacramento to Tahoe on I80.
From Grass Valley, take 174 to Colfax at the junction with I80. Travel NE on I80 from Colfax about 11.3 miles and exit at Alta. This exit is about 2.5 miles beyond Gold Run and about 1.5 miles beyond Dutch Flat. At the Alta Exit, turn right at the stop sign, then an immediate left on Casa Loma Road, more of a zigzag than two turns. Set your odometer here. At 0.8 miles, turn right still on Casa Loma Road to avoid going under the railroad tracks. At about 1.3 miles, stay left at the fork, and cross the railroad tracks. At 2.2 miles, turn right down off the road into the cul-de-sac parking area in the clearing with the telephone poles. Gather up your stuff, and walk on the path south and to the right. Scramble down the little embankment, over the dual set of railroad tracks, and set up at the edge overlooking the valley to the south.
Flying and Cautions: Some of the best wind in this area is the pre-storm or pre-frontal winds from the southeast, and this site provides near ideal exposure to the SE. The other issue with the prefrontal winds is exposure of the pilot—I’m not too willing to climb mountains or drive on steep dirt roads to a slope when I know a storm is on the way—and this site has paved access.
Of the several slopes here, I’ve been flying the one most to the right/west, mainly because of plane retrieval and landing issues. You can see and admire the other part of the slope, but retrieval looks too scary for me, and I can’t catch the plane every time yet. The lift is reasonably good for a given wind, and you can easily find focal areas of higher lift. On light days, expect to see some thermals cycling through. Spend a few minutes before you launch to “pre-flight” your plane—that is a mighty deep canyon, and the only access is by foot. Also think about landing for a few minutes. A small ridge extends out south from the launch site and there are small grassy areas on each side of the ridgeline. Some grass is also along the edge of the slope launch site that provides a reasonable—if somewhat small—landing area.
Pictures: The picture above is looking south, toward “Lover’s Leap”, overlooking the American River. This sixty-inch span Fun-1, built light with RDS, makes a nice inland slope ship for light lift.
TerraServer Sat Photo: the thing that looks a big road is the double railroad tracks. The parking area is the small clearing along the north side of the tracks just below the center of the image.
Topozone topographic map of the site: Just to the right of “BM 3866” is the site, just to the right of the spring (blue circle with squiggly tail).
Looking SE at the primary site.
So where are you planning to land? Brian McLean with his Extreme.
Looking back from the above rock, south toward the primary site, down the canyon.
View of the Casa Loma site from another location down the canyon at sunset.