270>Cat Creek Campground>118>back 118>271>back 271>270
Blue Lake Campground only had one other camper when we arrived Saturday morning. We were prepared to camp off campground due to the obnoxious campers we encountered at East Fort Rock, but the road clung to a mountainside, there was nowhere to pull off the road. Oddly, Blue Lake campground was almost deserted on a holiday weekend. After unloading and setting up camp, we hit the trails around noon.
We started on a route recommended route; 270>118>276>272> back down 270. The quad trail 270 was surprisingly good. There were some small elevation changes, lots of turns (unlike EFR), a little rocky, some mountainside hugging, but not too much. At Cat Creek Campground we lost the trail for a little while. This is where the quad/dirtbike families camp and there are splinter trails everywhere. Kids were doing endless laps around the campground. We finally found Hamilton Mountain trail and started heading up.
118 had loamy dirt and narrow goat trails etched into the side of the mountain. Along the way someone told us the trail was snowed in a bit higher up so we knew we wouldn’t make the loop. It didn’t matter much because this trail was so good, going back the way we came would be fun too. At one point I decided to stop to take photos of some wild flowers. After securing my bike, I turned around and was shocked by a stunning view of Mt St Helens. I didn’t know it was behind me.
We hit snow and turned around.
Quad trail 271 also made a loop to our campground. Besides the usual amazing greatness it had some tight switchbacks with big rocks on every exit, baseball size gravel trails, a downed tree. 271 was also snowed in but this time we tried to plow through a couple snow banks and made it about another mile before giving up and turning around at a beautiful mossy creek. Snow is fun! I thought this trail was a bit on the more difficult side until I saw a group of 7ish year olds on the way down. I didn’t know what to make of it. On one hand child endangerment on the other these kid must be incredible riders. With their small wheels the rocks must be like boulders.
We took 270 get back to the campground. We road hard for 6 hours. There were no straight flat sections to relax on. You had to pretty much be on it the whole time. I was so exhausted I was hallucinating.
Saturday night there was only one new camper. I think none of the yahoos were at Blue Lake campground because it is paved. No dirt for kids to do laps on. What luck.
270>272>back 272>270> across road from North Fork Campground>back.
We thought we would try to go up from the opposite direction on the recommended trails. We took 270 to 272. The trails were narrower, the rocks were bigger, and the drop-offs were steeper. We got up into the clouds where it was dark and cool. I was getting a little more used to the rocks and the extreme heights, but at some point it got a lot harder or maybe I was tired from the previous day. I had to turn around. Going down was a lot easier and faster than I expected.
At 270 we took a right. The trail to North Forks campground was whoopy and not too thrilling. Steve at his lunch on the bank of the North Fork Cispus river and I took photos. We decided to take the trail on the other side of rd 23 for a couple miles to check it out, and then turn around. At first it was flat but it had tight serpentine turns. About a half mile in, I had to stop. The forest seemed different. We were riding in old growth. I have been dying to do some hiking in old growth, but never imagined there would be dirtbike trails through it. We went for more that a few miles. The trail seemed to go up the base of the mountain and back down to the valley, narrow tricky and fun. Some of the best trails I had ever ridden, all through this primordial landscape.
Gifford Pinchot is about 2.5 hours from our house!