The Site

A controlled access site regulated by the local club, it is in the “mountainous foothills” of the Sierra Nevada range. USHGA Hang 3 rating, helmet and parachute required. H2’s allowed with Instructor or Observer. There’s a quick 20-minute turnaround up the hill from the LZ. Road access to the top is by improved 4WD dirt/gravel road. Locked gate at bottom; you must be with a key-holder for flying access. The club rents the launch area from a private landowner; the LZ is permitted by annual fees paid to Merced Irrigation District (they manage the lake and surrounding recreation property). Please help keep the launch and landing litter-free, and abide by the rules to keep this site open.

The Flying

Launch is a sloping mountaintop, facing west, elevation 2000’ MSL, 1000’ above the landing area. Launch ramp is improved, built up from rock and dirt. Launch is possible in winds from the N, W, or S. 2 lesser-used launch sites are nearby. LZ is rolling grassy terrain with several emergency alternative areas. Takeoff and landing have no direct obstructions. Conditions range from glassy smooth ridge lift to smooth or trashy thermals, but flying is consistent and fun year-round. Flying is possible (and sometimes surprisingly sweet) in a wide range of weather and winds. On many days you can fly all around the valley and across the lake. The locals routinely get several hours of airtime when they want. Altitude gains of 2000’ – 6000’ are typical. Cross-country flights of 50 – 90 miles have been made. The main launch ridge is only about a mile long, but it’s a springboard to many ridges in the surrounding area: Greeley, Hunters, Pinon Blanco, Bullion, etc… Some pilots have ventured into the Yosemite Valley from this site. Great scenery, consistent conditions, easy launch and landing, and year-round flying make this site a “sky of opportunity” and a place to come and “get you some!”
GPS Coordinates: 37.712450° -120.234300°

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Landing Zone
GPS Coordinates: 37.704442° -120.245129°

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Driving Directions

The site is 50 miles east of Modesto. Depending on the area you are coming from, Manteca, Modesto, and Merced are all good portals from Hwy 99. Via Hwy 132, go about 17 to 18 miles past the La Grange Saloon, turn right at the sign “Horseshoe Bend Recreation Area” for the trailer park and campground, or go another mile east on Hwy 132 to a pullout on the right with a gate, windsock, and signs taking you in to the LZ.

Access to both the Launch and/ or Landing Zone is retstrcited and behind locked gates. Inorder to attain access to either please contact one of the Mother Lode Sky Rider pilots.

Map of LZ


Right next door to the LZ is Horseshoe Bend Recreational Area which has a full range of available facilities; camping is $18 per vehicle and $24 for trailer hookup with water and electricity. 100 Camping Units, 35 RV Water-Electric Hookups, 5 Restrooms, Fish Cleaning Stations, Hot Showers, Picnic Day Use Areas, 2 Boat Launching Lanes. 1-855-800-CAMP (2267) ~ 7 days a week 9:00am - 4:00pm

And next door is the Shore Fun Trailer Park. Several pilots live at Shore Fun full-time, or have a trailer there for weekends. If you are a guest of a local resident (or you get to know a local and bribe him with beer), you can camp in tents or trailers or cars or under the trees. Warm showers are available. The landlord requests $5 per car per night if you camp here.

Coulterville Hotels and B&Bs

Hotel Jeffery
1 Main St
Coulterville, CA 95311
(209) 878-3471
“Historic Gold Mining Era Hotel”. Over 150 years old, this hotel has the oldest working saloon in California! Great restaurant and frisky bar. Located at the junction of Hwy 132 and Hwy 49. Room prices from $80 - $120.
Rose Cottage B&B
5004 Main St
Coulterville, CA 95311
(209) 878-3478
“Quaint Comfort”. In the heart of historical Coulterville, this bed & breakfast is located above an antique store, in what used to be the town’s general store in the gold rush days. $90 - $110 a night.
Penon Blanco Lookout B&B
4705 Penon Blanco Rd
Coulterville, CA 95311
(888) 257-4397
“Pampered Luxury and Vista Views”. Unique bed & breakfast located on 200 acres, overlooking Lakes McClure and Don Pedro. Cocktails served in the evening, gourmet breakfast in the morning. $120 - $180 a night.

Yosemite Springs
6986 Greeley Hill Road, Coulterville, CA
(209) 742-7340

Yosemite Gold Country Motel
10407 Hwy 49
Coulterville, CA 95311
(800) 247-9884
“Affordable & Cozy”. Your basic traveler’s motel, ¼ mile from Coulterville, and about 5 minutes drive from the flying site. No luxury but clean and comfortable for your budget, rooms from $58 - $62, and gives 10% AAA discount.

Historical Information

For many people, the Sierra Nevada—California’s Range of Light—is the most conspicuous, if not revered geographic feature in the Golden State. In Spanish, sierra means “jagged range” and nevada means “snowed upon.”

Nearby Recreation

Driving for the hang gliding pilots, camping, fishing, boating, water-skiing, hiking, swimming, rafting, house boating, motocross, mountain biking, antique shops, gold panning, dining, barhopping, table dancing, etc…

Nearby Point-of-Interests

Coulterville: One of the last unspoiled gold towns, many of the old buildings from the Gold Rush Era are still standing along Main Street. Chamber of Commerce (209) 878-3074. Historical Center (209) 878-3015.