I was long overdue for a ride with Steve and Brian so Wednesday, I met them out in Santee for some play time on the “Mel Brooks” trails. The loop we did was only about nine miles but the trail was a beater. This trail is all about the play not the distance. With names like Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, Mongo and Spaceballs how can you not have some fun.
It was time for a dawn patrol ride in the Cuyamaca Mountains and Anza Borego Desert State Park. I was at the trailhead bright and early. Too early was my first thought as it was quite brisk (mid-50’s) and I was dressed for the heat to come.
I started out at the San Diego River Staging area. The early morning temps made for a zippy start to help keep the blood flowing.
I made my way up the west side single track and then cut over to the at the visitor center and picked up the Green Valley fire road.
I saw turkeys and some deer along way. When I got to the bottom of Soapstone grade fire road, I took the Upper Green Valley single track. About half way up the climb you leave the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and enter the Anza Borrego Desert state park. Now it looks nothing like a desert up here.
Normally, I hookup with the La Cima Trail and head west toward Lake Cuyamaca and the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CRHT). Today I turned east on the La Cima trail where I went for just over a mile up and over a ridge to the La Cima Trailhead. This was a nice bit of trail. At the La Cima trailhead I picked up the Sunrise trail and continued east.
What a nice bit of trail. There were one spot where you could look down into the Anza Borrego Desert and see the Salton Sea.
I took the Sunrise trail out to its end at the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch and the northern terminus of Deer Park Road (private property). This was my first time on this bit of trail and I must say I liked it. I have heard that there is a trail planned that would stay on the south side of sunrise highway and connect the Sunrise trail all the way over to top of Noble Canyon. I am all about new trails and I would gladly welcome such a trail. Interestingly enough there is already a trail that connects those two points together. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is that trail. There are access points to the PCT at the the entrance to the Lucky 5 ranch as well as at the top of Noble Canyon. Unfortunately bikes are off limits on the PCT. Now this particularly section is not off limits to bikes because it is in wilderness. No it is strictly off limits to bikes because the PCT has a blanket ban on bikes mostly because the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) feels bike should not be on “their” trail. (I’m grossly generalizing their position that from their perspective makes sense) To me it seems to be a nearly a no brainer that allowing bikes on the PCT section that is on the north side of the Sunrise Highway from Lucky 5 to Noble would alleviate the need to build a trail between those two points on the south side of Sunrise Highway. This makes me wonder, would the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) rather see additional environmental impacts created in this area to create a redundant trail just so they could continue to keep bikes off of the PCT? Is their need to maintain a certain trail experience greater than their land stewardship goals? Would the organizations that support the PCTA simultaneously oppose the creation of the new trail on the south side of the trail due to environmental impacts while also opposing the sharing of the section PCT on the north side of Sunrise highway? Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm.
Well after my deep thoughts I started working my way back the California Riding and Hiking trail. It was well into mid-morning at this point and things had warmed up to near perfect cycling temps. Along the way I came upon the fellow above.
After a bit of snake and camera juggling, I was back on my way and rejoined the CRHT which took me to Soapstone and Stonewall fire roads followed by the Coldsprings trail and the then back to the staging area via the westside single
Fresh back from working in the Puget Sound area it was time to hit up some of the local stuff. I got up at O-Damn Early to hit up a new bit of trail and the Black Mountain Truck Trail near Ramona.
Ramona this time of year can get really toasty and Pamo Valley can really turn into a pizza oven. The plan today was to get some elevation on me before things got to really cooking.
I made it out to Pamo Valley good and early. The new staging area is quite large and can accommodate plenty of cars and horse trailers. I made quick work of getting ready to roll as it was only going to get warmer. The trail starts out in the northeast corner of the lot and parallels the road for a short bit before crossing over. A word of caution, the first section of trail near the road was ate up with goat heads. If you are not running some type of sealant system you may find yourself having a frustrating day right from the get-go.
This new section of the Coast to Crest Trail eliminates the need to ride along the Pamo Road to connect the Lower Santa Ysabel Truck Trail to the Black Mountain Truck Trail. It is 3.2 miles long and overall I think it is a nice addition to the trail system. It undulates on the hillsides following the general route of the road but is not just paralleling the road. It does cross the Pamo Road several times but I really don’t consider that much of a detractor.
Shortly after I got onto Black Mountain Truck Trail, my dropper seat post started acting up. It started sagging about 1/2″. I was able to just raise my post up some in the seat tube to compensate, but it was not long before it dropped about 2-2.5″ down. I did not have enough seat-post to compensate for this. The first thing I tried was wrapping some duct tape around the upper part of the post. It worked for just a short amount of time before the whole tape mass just slide up the post. Next I tried reposition the table and give some extra clamping power with some zip ties. This worked better but not for long. Trying to do a long climb without full leg extension can be rough. I was about to throw in the towel an head back down the mountain when I saw a sizable stick. I was able break and trim the stick to just the right length to wedge between the seatpost clamp and the bottom of the seat. Once I got it jammed in place I zip-tied the stick to the post. This fix held up and I was back in business.
The remaining five miles or so of climbing I had ahead me after fixing the post when well enough and while the temps were climbing they were not bad at all. I was joined at the summit by a couple of jeepers and their dog and I had an enjoyable time shooting the breeze with them for a while before heading back down the mountain.
As I descended you could feel the temps climbing and it was really hot down at the valley floor. I opted to not take the new connector trail back at this point and just zipped back on the road. I did a total of just at 20 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing.
The first few miles of the Lower Dungeness trail can be brutally steep and amazingly pretty. A lot of people opt to take the fire roads around to 3 o’clock ride and then take a connector trail down to the Lower Dungeness cutting out much of the brutal climbing section of the trail.
I have done both options and decided to take the forest service roads/3 o’clock ridge option.
The views from along the forest road are really nice and grades are reasonable but you are missing out on pristine stuff my bypassing those first few miles.
Once I reached 3 o’clock ridge there was quite a bit of zippy downhill singlet rack goodness down into the creek watershed. Once down there it was just sublime Pacific Northwest loamy, mossy forested goodness following the creek up stream.
There is plenty of undulations along the Lower Dungeness trail and since you are heading upstream you know you are trending uphill. You probably will not care as the experience is pretty incredible.
Once the trail reached the junction of the Dungeness Creek trail and another fire road it was time for some more climbing to get to the top of the Gold Creek Trail and the Tubal Cain Trail at the edge of the Buckhorn Wilderness. It was not a horrible climb, but you certainly did some work.
The Gold Creek is pretty awesome section of trail that spends a lot of time along the a steep hillside with the Lower Dungeness Creek far below.
It was not recently that I learned that a portion of this trail is also part of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Established in the 2009, the Pacific Northwest trail is 1,200 miles long and goes from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Oceans.
Hmmmm, I was a little lite on pictures through much of the ripping downhill sections of this trail. Gold Creek will eventually drop down off of the high ridge sides. Where you will enjoy some more creek-side riding before you have to a wee bit of climbing on an decommissioned forest road back up to the trail head.
On this day I logged right at 20 miles with 3,900 feet of climbing. My legs were drained and my soul was full!
Plan A was to ride on the Olympic Peninsula today but that whole area looked socked with clouds. Plan B was to head east for the big ride I had planned for the following weekend. A return to the Ranger Creek and Palisades Trails.
I first rode out in August of 2010 and it was fantastic. This time was still fantastic and slightly different.
As I climbed further up the trail, I could see that some fire damage had occurred in 2017 up near the ridge tops.
I would guess during the last mile up to where the Ranger Shelter would be, started going through some fire damage along the trail. The trail was in pretty descent shape
Once I got rolling on the Palisades Trail, the views did not disappoint!
What also did not disappoint was the riding on Palisades as well. Fast, tight and technical root bits made for a banging good time shedding off the elevation gained on Ranger Creek Trail. One thing is for certain, it did not suck to be me today!
This trail is located turn the town on of Purdy, WA in the Gig Harbor Area. It is good example of what good city, county and user group relations can get accomplished. Here is a link to the park’s map.
Most the forest here is new growth, kinda recently worked land is the vibe I get. There are is a lot of purpose built MTB trails. Some of them are even one way.
Most of the trails area XC type trails with a little bit of tech here and there. There is a pump track as well as pump trail.
Even a wee bit of a log riding as well.
There is a set of jump trail near the upper end of the trail system that allows for some progression as you develop your skills.
Down near the bottom of the trail system are a couple of serious jump lines (not the ones pictured above) they are not joke jump lines. (Marvik and NWT3K)
Not all of the trails are on the current city map of the place, but if you check out Trailforks, you can see the delta. Interestingly enough trailforks is missing some trails that is on the city map of the place.
It is well worth a visit, but I have to admit, it does not have the same classic Pacfic Northwest trail appeal that I get at some of the other nearby places like Green Mountain State Park and Banner Forest.
Green Mountain State Park is located within about 15 minutes of where I am working here in the Puget Sound area so it is part of the post-work ride rotation.
There are plenty of way to ride the trails out here at Green Mountain State Park. I have not created a dedicated page on my site for this place yet. Here you can find some of my previous posts on this area.
Most of the trails in this area are on Trailforks.com. The Wildcat Trail is one of many trails out in the area. It is well worth a look see for the network out there.
The Wildcat trail is one of the hardest ways to get up the mountain and it will certainly test your lungs and how well you can handle redlining into the anaerobic end your cardio reserves. Lately I have been taking a longer series of fireroads up to the top of the mountain and then take Wildcat down. Well mostly down there are some uphills even on the descent to keep you honest.
A great workout with good views on clear days. A good way work out the stress of a solid day’s work.
So I am working in the Puget Sound area of Washington for the next few weeks. This is a great time be up in this area of thr country. Last year I went out to Mt Saint Helens and rode the Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham trails. It was a pretty incredible ride but the weather did not cooperate so my views were quite limited. Here is report from that day
On the top of my MTB list for this trip was a return outing to here when the weather was clear. My first weekend here and the weather report looked good so I pulled the trigger. Boy was I rewarded for it.
Along the Ape Canyon trail looking at the south fsce of the mountain.
I saw a lot more of the mountain than last year even before I got to the trailhead. The climb up Ape Canyon was fantastic and the further up I went the better things got. The tops of Mt Adams and Mt Rainier were even visible in spots.
The view from the top of Ape Canyon
The view when you reach the top of Ape Canyon is incredibly impressive. In the pan shot above you can see the Rainier, Adams and of course Mt Saint Helens.
The south-southeast slopes of the mountain.
It is crazy to think that much of the foreground was forest before the eruption in 1980. The mountain used to have a typical volcano shape to it but the eruption blasted off 1,300 feet off the top. This is just the non-blast side of the mountain.
From here I rode the Plains of Abraham trail over the eastern slope of pumice and lava rock. Riding through here I once again felt very small seeing what the power of Mama Earth can do. There were also lots of wildflowers and other low growing stuff.
The northestern slope as seen on the fireroad out Windy Gap.
The trail takes you around to the northeastern area of the mountain where you can get your first view of the side of the mountain that was blown off. In the picture above you can see the trail in the ridgeline.
Spirit Lake and the “log raft”
The singletrack dumps you off a ridgeline and onto a dirt forest service road. I took that out to Windy Gap and the onward to the Smith Creek trailhead. Here I was treated to a nice view of Spirit Lake and the “Log Raft”. The lake took the brunt of the blast and most of the water was thrown up into the higher elevations in the form of a wave estimated to be about 850 feet high. When the dust settled and water drained back into the lake it was a much larger and shallower lake that had 40% of it surface area covered in the floating trunks of the trees between it and the mountain. Check out this wikipedia article on it. Moat of those trunks are still floating on the lake.
I thought about dropping the Smith Creek trail to do a more epic loop, but I wanted to retrace my steps and descend Ape Canyon to finish the ride.
Retracing my steps was plenty of work but I was once again rewarded with killer views and the descent down Ape Canyon was the source of multiple joygasms. What an opener for this trip!