Elk Creek Loop among best trails in Fraser Valley
Mountain Biking with Keith
At least once a summer you need to do a ride outside of those go to favorite trails, one that you may not have done or don’t make the time to remember how much fun it is. The Elk Creek Loop and Upper Elk Creek is just that type of trail experience.
This ride will take you on some of your favorite trails and maybe a few that you overlook. The climbs will make you earn them, the descents will have you smiling and the singletrack bliss through the forest will clear your mind of the daily thoughts that may age us just a bit faster than we like.
Due to the limited space for this article I will refer you to the local map – all local bike shops have it – or go to http://www.mountainbikecapitalusa.com for the online version. I’m going to give some straightforward directions to the Elk Creek area.
From WP head west on Vasquez Road, as it turns to dirt turn right on Sunset Pink, continue up D3 then right on D4. Turn right on USFS 159 (gravel road), turn left on Upper Elk Creek which is at the intersection of USFS 159 and USFS 158.
Upper Elk Creek begins your main climb. This is one that will test your legs as well as your lungs. Don’t be lulled to sleep as you start on a moderate to easy forest road. Soon the easy trail tips upwards as you begin a long, sustained climb. The higher you go, the harder it gets. The first trail junction is just after you ride over a wet section of road fed by a spring. On your right you pass the main climb of Upper Elk Creek, continue straight ahead as you now begin the Elk Creek Loop (the Elk Creek Loop actually climbs above the Upper Elk Creek Loop).
The Elk Creek Loop is one of the highest trails in the area. While this is primarily an old logging road, it is well worth the ride. Oftentimes you are the only users on the trail, giving you the feeling of solitude that so often eludes us in our everyday world. This climb never seems to let up. Your legs that told you they were fine at the bottom will be singing a different song as you continue upward. You can see the Continental Divide to the east. Below you is the main Elk Creek drainage.
Wildlife sightings are frequent here. Elk love the thick forest and abundance of water. Keep an eye out for blue grouse or the occasional pine martin. This old road seamlessly merges with a new trail built by the Forest Service just a few years ago. You leave the rock from the old road behind as soft dirt meets your wheels. Soon you cross a bridge and your reward is one of the longest descents in the area. If you look close you can see where the newly built trail crosses an old sheep herder’s trail of years gone by. Switchbacks give you time to look around at some of the huge spruce trees that grow in the area. The hard-earned elevation gain flies by in a blur as a hurting smile of joy replaces the slight grimace of the tired legs during the climb.
Your next turn is at the junction with Upper Elk Creek. Turn left and enjoy some high elevation singletrack with enough rocks and roots to keep you on your toes. Singletrack gives way to another old logging road that lets you feel the wind in your hair.
Upper Elk Creek ends just across from the top of Sunken Bridge. You might as well enjoy a bit more downhill by rolling down Sunken Bridge. There is still a bit more riding to be had before calling it a day. Turn right on USFS 158 then left on D2. I always say just one more climb will bring you back to the bottom, and this is it. Climb D2 and turn left on WTB. WTB just loves to make your legs hurt and test your skills toward the end of your ride. Just after the bottom of WTB turn left on Akimas Way, which will tie back into Sunset Pink where you began the ride. Before you finish your ride, look to the west and take in the ridge you just climbed. We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy the trails as we do.
Beavers Sports Shop next the Best Western Hotel does a group ride Friday at 6 p.m. This ride is for the intermediate and above rider. We will explore the local trail system as a group. For more info call the shop at 726-5988.
Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker. Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!
Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at email@example.com.
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With the incoming cold weather, Rocky Mountain National Park is planning to burn several slash piles across the park when appropriate.