Saturday, September 24, 2016

Trail #120 Ride Report

The old interweb has been blowing up recently with talk of a new trail and ending for Trail #120 on the Clark Fork side.  This new reroute would bypass the private property that the previous trail ended on, making for a great shuttle/loop ride again.  The direction of the ride now would be to go up Strong Creek, head south from Round Top to Bee Top and then down the ridge and end on West Spring Creek Road.  I went to go ride and give you all some on the ground reporting.  Here are my findings...

Strong Creek sucks.  No seriously.  It is worse than I have seen before.  ATVs and other motos have nicely rototiller the road.  So, instead of it being just a long 7 mile steep grind with some loose sections, it is now a long steep climb with mostly loose tread and lots and lots of big rocks.  Practice mediation before hand and try to visit your happy place.  Personally, I still think this climb is worth the reward of riding Trail #120.

Trail #120 is in great shape out to the Bee Top Trail connector, which is about 6 miles from Round Top.  I think we climbed over 8-10 trees along the way, but nothing major.  Tread was good and the views were straight up amazing as usual.  Plan on taking lots of pics.  Of course there are still a dozen or so scree crossings, which I think get better and better every year as the path through them gets more worn.

So, in the above picture we have just passed the Bee Top Trail.  The trail goes out to the end of the ridge and then starts the long steep descent back to the valley.  The trail out to this point has always gotten a lot of use which keeps things clear and tread packed.  In the past most would turn around here because of the private property and the fact that the trail down was in terrible condition.  Years of minimal use and no maintenance left the trail very overgrown.  The trail wasn't built that great to begin with and water damage, horses and ORVs further made the tread worse.

Close to the first 2 miles after leaving the ridge will offer just what I have described.  Trail is still very overgrown, hard to see, narrow and slow going.  After that initial descent, you will start to see where brushing has been done and tread rework has begun.  The rest of the descent back to West Spring Road is a major improvement over the trail conditions of the past.  However, it still leaves much to be desired.  Hopefully, work will continue and the conditions will improve.  We ended our day with 21 miles from the Strong Creek Trailhead to West Spring Road.
one of the new bridges
One last word on West Spring Creek Road.  Some maps, and Google, will tell you that West Spring Creek Road runs from Sam Owen to East Spring Creek Road and eventually to Clark Fork.  This is NOT true.  West Spring Creek Road dead ends.  There is not much in the way of a parking lot, nor signage.  Just cross the creek at the dead end and there is the newly built trail.  Take a peak at this Google map and note beginning of West Spring Creek Road off of Denton Road.  Start there and take it to the end...try to ignore all the unfriendly neighborhood signs.

This is truly an epic ride.  It is a big day of riding...and pushing.  It is not for the faint, but if you do tackle it, take your sense of adventure and your camera.

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