If you live in Tahoe, you often hear talk of Downieville as the mecca of mountain biking. I actually think that Tahoe itself is the mecca. It just goes to show "the grass is greener" mentality of people. However you can not deny that Downieville does provide some fabulous riding, especially the world famous Downieville downhill. The DV DH is a 15 mile long ride which links several trails, drops 4000', and has about 1/4 miles worth of climbing. It is of moderate technical difficulty, except for a couple of challenging obstacles.
The ride starts at the top of Packer Saddle. From Highway 49 turn north at Bassests onto Gold Lake Rd. Take the fist left over the bridge onto Packer Lake Rd. Take the first Right to stay on Packer Lake Rd to Packer Saddle. Once over the saddle take a left at the "T", and you will find a well established parking lot a few hundred yards from the "T".
The most difficult part of the DV DH is setting up the car shuttle. To avoid the grueling Downieville Uphill, most people shuttle the ride. Setting up the shuttle takes two cars, a long time and a lot of driving. A good option is the use Downieville Outfitters. Each van ride to the top cost about twenty bucks. These guys also rent bikes. http://www.downievilleoutfitters.com/
There are two basic options for the downhill. Pauley Creek, or Butcher's Ranch. Butcher's Ranch Trail is the most popular and starts almost immediately from the top, where as the Pauley Creek Trail requires a few miles of dirt road riding to the trail head. Actually the true start of BR starts a little bit down the dirt road, but most people take Sunrise trail to link to BR. Sunrise at the time however still had many snow patches, which resulted in mud holes. I felt bad about having a ten person crew tear through those holes, but we did not know of its condition. The beginning of the trail is south facing and great. It isn't till a little ways in that you find yourself on the cold, snowy, muddy, north face.
BR seamlessly joins up with Pauley Creek trail. Then onto the third divide, dirt road, through the campsite, first divide, and into town.