Monday, July 18, 2011

Quick snow update

There's still plenty of it in and around the Rubies' "Greatest Hits" destinations - the trails out of Lamoille Canyon, Ruby Dome, the passes on the Ruby Crest Trail, etc. The trail to Island Lake is clear - the waterfall is absolutely ROARING at the moment! The short trail up Thomas Canyon is open, as is the trail up Right Fork (as far as it goes, it turns into rock cairn and bushwhack about 1.5 miles in).

Those looking for clear trails would probably be best served taking off out of the various Ruby Valley trailheads, or heading towards the East Humboldts. The Secret-Starr trail will be clear - of snow, at any rate - and both Gray Lake and Smith Lake will be open. The Boulders are likely to still have snow at the lakes.

Keep in mind that these trails receive very little use and thus very little maintenance and you'll have to deal with deadfall, overgrowth and/or route-finding. The mile-long trail out of Angel Lake to Smith Lake is new-ish and in good shape. The Secret-Starr Trail between Angel Lake and Gray Lake is easy enough to find, but past Gray Lake can be pretty tenuous.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

THIS mountain biker's view of the Secret-Lamoille Trail

I took a break from kid wrangling and road-bike training to take my mountain bike for a spin this morning on the Secret-Lamoille Trail. It's the first time I've been up since they started work this summer, and after the rave review I got the other day I figured I'd better have a look for myself.

The trail is clearly a work in progress, but it's super-fun on a mountain bike now and is going to be more so as they get things up to snuff.

Right now the trail is benched in to 3 miles. They re-routed it from the original design and now it's a bit of a grunt - 7.7% trail grade, certainly rideable but not the 5-6% cruise that was originally intended. The downhill has good flow - at least until you come up on a switchback - and hopefully will be even more flowy after the switchbacks are improved. The switchbacks are, by and large, not rideable at the moment; however, I understand that the trail crew is bringing up some timbers and will spend the summer improving the switchbacks to a reasonable (and hopefully rideable) standard. I also am given to understand that they're going to focus on getting these first three miles finished before moving the benching forward.

The trail dead ends on the line laid out by the original trail designer, and I hope that they decide to keep his design from here on out. It was a nice one. There is a very challenging switchback section coming up about 3 more miles in, and based on what I saw from this bunch at the get-go they're likely to throw Greg's work out and substitute their own. Hopefully they'll remember that this was, first and foremost, a MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL and will build those switchbacks accordingly.

The trail is clearly getting regular use. There were abundant bike, horse and hiker tracks (good to see the mix) and I ran into three hikers along the way. One of them told me that he was up there every other day or so - that he very, very much enjoyed what was happening up there.

All in all, it's an excellent short trip right now and is destined to get only better. It is showy with wildflowers at the moment, a beautiful hike or ride, challenging enough to provide good exercise, well worth taking the time to visit. There is shade along the way, but like any trail at this elevation this time of year, it'll be more enjoyable early in the morning or late in the afternoon. My in-laws will be in town tomorrow and this is certainly one of the places I'll take them. Just gorgeous.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A mountain biker's view of the S-L Trail

Thought I'd pass this along... a fellow I know gave me a call first thing this morning to let me know how very much he enjoyed riding the Secret-Lamoille Trail. Good to hear! I guess he went up after work to take it for a spin. Obviously he had to walk the switchbacks - they're unrideable at this point - but the rest of the trail has won his rave reviews. In his words "this is like riding a trail in Colorado - I can't believe we have something like this here!"

Since a very big part of that project's concept was getting some decent mountain bike trail on the ground, I'm glad to hear that a) the bikes are out there and b) they're enjoying what they're finding.