I'm on the GOAT!!
Word was getting out that mystical trails were being brought back to life by the Transcascadia Crew.
Wait just 2 hrs from Seattle? if they are so good, how come I've never heard of this area?
Trail-forks shows an endless web of intertwined moto trail, all comprised of intimidating elevation profiles and fool hardy mileage, so where do we start? After some research on the 2018 TC route along with input from a few friends who had ridden in the area, we had our poison for the weekend - A Goat Mountain extravaganza on Day 1 and Juniper ridge on Day 2.
Saturday we woke to an epic meal of avocado toast and eggs, The first ascent to Vanson Peaks, goes behinds a waterfall and meanders up 3000' ending with amazing views of endless evergreens and Mt. Rainier towering above. Even the little descents mixed-in had us hoot'n and holler'n. The dirt was primo loam with natural flow. From the top we dropped in for a 3000' descent down the backside on the Vanson Ridge Trail which almost immediately proved to be one of the the best descents of the season. Classic, fast, smooth and naturally flowy. You'll just have to experience it yourself - nothing technical, but endless fast playful descending.
Peter Bevan waking up pre-dawn for the breakfast shift.
Marcy Grossman and Peter, pedaling up toward Vanson Ridge
Marcy descending Vanson Ridge trail
The next 15+ miles were a grunt, with a relatively mellow climb up green river, a big push up goat mountain and then amazing views from atop goat mountain. Once atop the ridge the rolling profile added to the fatigue, but the views and backcountry vibes kept the stoke alive.
Marcy and Peter Ridge Riding Goat Mountain
Doug Moore Ridge Riding
Though not adequately prepared for the 32 mile and 7500', we did eventually hit the intersection for the final descent. The 3000' climb we started on provided an epic descent. Through mossy large old growth. There was an added kicker of a few hundred feet of ascent near the end that had all been forgotten from 9 hours earlier. It ended up taking around 10 hrs with stops and lots of photo ops mixed in. I would do this again any day. The up and over Vanson peak and back would be the most efficient if looking to maximized the descent, but you would miss some of the amazing views on the east side of the Goat Mountain trail.
On Day 2 we set-off for Juniper ridge with a point to point car shuttle to help. Little did we know the road was washed out 2500' from the trail-head, so our short day quickly was naught and we started pedaling up NF-2324. The road is very mellow and has some great views; however, the Sunrise trail instantly slapped us back into reality. This was a brutal hike a bike trenched in a deep moto rut and we took the left variation which according to trailforks was a contour to avoid ascent. This proved to also be false and we had 500' of some of the most heinous hike-a-bike one could imagine. No self respecting mountain biker should ever have to endure such a fate. Once we hit 5500' on Juniper ridge the trail eased off and we had our first great rest with big views. The views continued to get better as the ridge continued. There was a long descent mixed in which was mostly steep moto trail on loose sharp rocks. Good fun, but not the smooth loam of the day before.
Marcy on Juniper Ridge
Relaxing Before the final long descent to the car
The final 4000' descent to the car had a bit of everything a moto trail might have. A completely different style of trail than the day before with much looser trails and mixed tech and moto- carved flow. I still enjoyed it, though the views and colors were what really made it special. Definitely a spot for great adventure and exploration, so find a weekend, pack those cars and get that backcountry adventure fix.
Peter in the Yellow Room
Marcy on Tongue Mountain Trail