What does an epic mountain bike ride look like?
Epic isn’t easy to define in the mountain bike world. Miles and vertical gain don’t always tell the whole story. This loop fits my personal definition. While I’ve ridden bigger, harder, longer rides this one has it all. When my wife and I started driving up the East Fork Salmon River Road I think we were both sort of surprised by the scenery. Having just spent a week in Stanley riding in the forests and alpine, albeit arid with many burned areas, it was not where we were expecting to start a high altitude alpine ride. Riding up the Big Boulder Creek Road is hot and exposed and pretty long, but a gradual grade with good tread makes it go fast. Pretty soon you arrive at the trail head. You are greeted with an abandoned mine and the beginning of the single track.
After winding through sparse arid forest with short steep climbs you suddenly find yourself in the White Clouds.
From here the ride just gets better and better. You soon start getting peek a boo views of the 11ers of the White Clouds.
I know these peaks quite well from the opposite side, so it was interesting to see them from this direction. From the left D.O. Lee, WCP-9, and Caulkens Peak.
After climbing in shady stands of pine with small flowery meadows you start to make your way up to the tree line.
After cresting the pass, it’s basically all down hill and the scenery is just incredible the whole way, which can be quite distracting to your downhill flow. Castle Peak and Merriam Peak loom over you most of the way down.
Frog Lake becomes visible right off the pass and is the second lake along the journey, after an un named less scenic one on the way up.
View from the shore of Frog Lake.
The trail goes right by Willow Lake, which is the Eastern most lake in the Boulder Chain lakes. From here the trail heads to Little Boulder Creek for a fun descent out of the alpine.
Castle and Merriam peak looming over the trail.
The transition back into high desert is sudden.
This was our last ride of a 5 day mountain biking trip to Stanley. While we hit some amazing trails, this was easily the best ride of the trip. Just a really good ride and it easily makes my personal top 5.