After talking with folks the LBS in Longview, we broke the cardinal rule of the trip and decided to ride an area with no map. Growler’s Gulch trail builders are adamant about no maps, except if you do trail work and request secret access, which they talk about on the web, so it’s only somewhat secret. With the basic skinny on the trails and where to park, our first try at GG led us to a newly constructed trail that dead ended (the growling). Returning to the car, we found another trail and then had a nice day of riding, never sure of where we were headed, but the trails all returned to one of two logging roads, so it was all good. The fox gloves and bleeding hearts were everywhere, with some of the foxgloves over 5 feet high. The area is owned by Weyerhauser and is in various stages of logging.
At the end of the ride we met some riders who had just come from a day of trail work at Coldwater Lake. It came highly recommended ecept for the really, reallly steep hike a bike with lots of mosquitoes! We made that our next stop.
As the road headed east toward Mt. St. Helens and Coldwater Lake, the clouds thickened and the wind came up as the temperature dropped. The plans to ride Coldwater Lake were scuttled in lieu of going up to the Mt. St. Helen’s Jackson Ridge Observatory. What a beautiful and interesting place showing the amazing effects of nature. Again, lots of wildflowers–indian paintbrush, penstemon, pussy toes.
We met a volunteer ranger who was 78 and lived here his whole life. He had some amazing stories. West, then south then east, to Coldwater Creek (not to be confused with Coldwater Lake–evidently a lot of water around here is cold!!) This is on the southern part of Mt. St Helens. We found the trail, had a map and had a nice ride up Murphy’s Grade and Down Coldwater Creek. A great downhill with some surprises– roots, water crossings, narrow bridges. and one new pretty fancy one at the bottom.
One more ride, then on to Hood River.