It’s that time of year when it’s too chilly or dicey to get caught in cold rain on a long ride. Maybe you want to get a workout or even a quick ramble into nature and soak up great scenery away from your regular routes. In essence you’re looking for that short winterish type ride.
Winter Creek 2019 route is a 95% car free route through mild gravel and small roads in the Mount Hood / trillium area that also takes on a splendid view of the mountain top from Trillium lake.
Location: Rhododendron, Oregon
Mileage: 36 Miles
Elevation Gain 3,300ft
Elevation profile – Gradual climbing all up front. Fun flow on way back.
Terrain: 10% Road 90% Gravel, and 6 Miles of easy trail
Ride Route: here Ridewithgps
Bicycle: Offroad touring, Cyclocross, Gravel Bike even a road bike with 28’s
We rode this at the end of November 2019, typically rainy and low clouds, the advantage of the damp conditions is that the gravel is not dusty and overheating is not a problem. Temperatures on my ride were 36-45 degrees. If you are riding at this time, take a stout jacket, waterproof. Winter gloves and a change of gloves if you get hit by rain. Standard winter fare otherwise, legwarmers or bib tights. Booties or winter shoes. After all we are riding at the end of November on a mountain!
The route starts off on a little side road that turns into a trail. This trail used to be a road until it was washed out many years ago and is now a hiking / walking / biking trail and a great connector for us.
After crossing the highway, the first bridge, lots of signs saying no bikes. Im not sure which nut of Rhododendron wrote that.
The backbone of the route is Still Creek rd to Trillium Lake, the lowest section is smooth as it weaves through forest land cabins then soon turns to unpaved, light gravel with a few sections of deeper but manageable gravel and if the snowline is too low on the day you ride you can turn around wherever you like (highest point near Trillium is 3700ft ).
The road is rarely travelled and makes for an enjoyable almost car free ride. Off to the sides of the road are beautiful small creeks flowing into Still creek while immersed in that quiet wintery vibe nature.
Trillium Lake Milepoint 16, on a clear day the mountain view would be in the center of this photo. Still it was good to be up there in the clouds.
Right around milepoint 18 you will come across a Pioneer Cemetery. On a clear day to the right views of the mountain can be had also.
We head our way up Chimney Rock Drive and head back down Still Creek Rd for about 8miles before turning.
Turning up FR2632 at milepoint 26 you cross a bridge and enjoy a nice climb about 300ft up, at this point it feels very remote before headed towards the Bridal Path.
Here is a super fun part, at mile point 28 we jump onto the Pioneer Bridal Path, smooth flowy single trail in the trees. Small ruts and bumps to hop off of. Generally down hill this is a fun trail, not technical at all, highly visible.
Tollgate Campground at Mile point 31 has some bathrooms and creepy buildings! The outdoor fireplaces at the campsites are of an notable design.
From here (mile point 31)on the Bridal Path ends so we left turn up Rd 20 and go back down the smooth section of still creek, to cross the highway and retrace our steps back to the start.
- No point in being a hero, it gets cold up there at elevation (4,000ft) so turn around if you get soaked or the weather gets too rough. Its flippable at most points and easy to figure some shortcuts back.
- If you do this late in the year, there maybe snow around milepoint 13. The gate might be closed after Dec, but its fine to go on, they don’t want motorized vehicles past the gate.
- Take 2 pairs of gloves
- Expect to get slightly dirty
Why I like this route
It’s close to 100% car free, thats really nice. Its not particularly hard gravel or trails, more accommodating than that and fits the time of year. This south side of 26 route is smoother the trails on the north side, which can be a bit too much for a non suspension bike at this time of year.
The route makes you do some work in the beginning, rewards you in the middle and has an awesome sweet flowy playful finish of the lower Bridal path. I coming back on the bridal path much better than riding up.