The sweetest mixture. Road, Gravel, Climb, Pick, Drop, Descend, Rip, Shred, Berm, Tuck and Speed. A 42mile loop with amazing views of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood, 90% car free.
Mileage: 43 Miles
Elevation 5,500ft mainly in the first half of ride
Terrain: Road 10% Gravel 50% MTB Trail 40%
Ride Route: here Ridewithgps
Bicycle: Cyclocross, Gravel Bike with 34c or larger or Hardtail MTB
Mixed terrain, Constantly stoked, amazing pacing, never a dull moment, and athletically challenging. I found the perfect route…first, you need a Cyclocross bike or a gravel grinder with some 34c or larger file tread tyres. Second, you need to be pretty darn fit, a few marbles loose upstairs and a gluten for punishment – this ride is only 42miles but with 6000ft of climbing, some challenging gravel climbs, some of which are pretty technical and 17miles of mtb sweeping, berm ripping, rocky singletrack you gotta be in shape for this. For perspective, it took two pretty dang fit guys about 5hrs to ride. You could ride this on a mountain bike, but we think because of the mix of road, gravel climbing and mtb it’s best ridden on a cx, gravel or hardtail bike.
The Basic Route
Starting in Welches. Up to Timberline Lodge via Trillium Lake then back down. Sounds easy right?
A mellow up, the road starts smooth, only the width of a car and lined edge to edge with mt. hood forest weaving through land littered with cabins. The road then quickly widens into mild gravel pack, passing by a couple of hiking trails as it gradually climbs towards Trillium Lake. Expect to go up about 1,700ft over 12 miles with no traffic.
As you reach a 4-way junction (still in gravel) you will continue straight to skirt the East edge of Trillium Lake. Part way round you will hit a great southeast side view of Mt.Hood. Snack up here, as it’s about to get upness, fun and probably hungry.
East Leg (Mile Point 17.4)
Exiting Trillium Lake following smooth top roads you will reach highway 26, crossing and immediately taking a right, you will find a small road at the back of the car park. This is East Leg Rd, not marked and probably a service road in the past, this is rough and rocky with a few sections of large rocks. The going is not bad, it’s refreshingley isolated and feeling like you are venturing the road that was forgotten or overlooked by the multiple smooth roads near by. It climbs about 600ft and is about 1.25mile long
Reaching the end of East Leg you will cross Timberline’s main road to a hidden trail, it sort of doesn’t look like anything at all. Venture on – this is it. This is the connector to West Leg, secluded, shaded, and pretty flat as it transverses the mountain. In here you will find a splendid area, Still Creek that runs through the trail. The connector is only about a mile long. If you have a water filter this is a great and easily accessible place to top up.
West Leg Rd
The connector puts you in the middle of West Leg, a road that leads up underneath the lower ski lifts to the Timberline car park. The annual OBRA uphill time trial is conducted up West Leg to Timberline. It’s a winding, switchbacky, fun road, that you will have to put some working into, as it goes up 1,400ft to reach Timberline Lodge averaging about a 5.5% grade. Amazing views can be had across the valley looking down on Trillium Lake and mt. Jefferson in the distance.
Skiing happens all year here so don’t be surprised to get a few odd looks from the skiers. Head to the main lodge, inside the entrance to the left, is a water fountain, down the corridor, the toilets, but while inside peep out the inside in all it’s grandeur-ness. I have heard that the restaurant here is pretty good, so don’t be too tempted by a cheeseburger at this point. Fill up your bottles and stop for a rest, the next section is gonna be fast, fun and despite being downhill, it will soak all your energy.
TimberLine to Town trail.
Ever so slightly Northwest of the lodge is the Timberline to Town trail. It’s marked pretty well and It’s mainly a mountain bike trail, but there could be hikers on it, so watch out. It starts off sandy and sometimes a little rocky but it’s all descent with amazing berms and pump transitions. A really fun trail for 5 miles.
4 Way Burger or Not?
Shortly you will reach a 5 way, turning left onto Glade or Town trail will plop you straight in Government camp, where you could stop for a craft brew and burger, so choosing the path to the right “Cross Town Trail” will skirt you on the outside of government camp via trail. It’s marked pretty well and signs tell you to slow down on approach. We chose the cross-town trail. Cross Town trail can be a little rocky and after a little while you will come to another intersection for Maggies Trail (mile 30.2), ignore it and carry on.
Pioneer Bridal Trail
Right about mile 30, the trail turns into Pioneer Bridal Trail, this is a mixed bag of good and bad. The route optimizes the sweet stuff and cuts out the ultra rocky not so fun crap. From this point on we are hitting trail, bombing down some of HWY26, (it has a wide shoulder)then popping off the trail at about mile 31.5 to meet up with a side road that leads to highway 26, bombing down 26, then at mile point 34.7 we are popping back onto the trail. (That’s 3 miles of fast highway descending on 26).
After you are done stop in for some good eats at Wraptitude a few miles from where you started, they have a back patio and are bike friendly.