Over the last year, I had only noticed 2 main mountain bike trails on the Olympic peninsula: the Dungeness/Gold Creek loop and Mt. Muller. Both seemed nice, but kind of short (20 miles, 5000 ft. and 10 miles, 3000 ft. el. gain) and are 50 miles apart. Add in the 3 hour drive from Seattle, and its a pretty poor ride-to-drive ratio. So, these trails have been on my backburner for a while.
Having long weekends this summer gives me some opportunity for bikepacking trips. So, the idea was to tie the 2 trails together with the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT). Their website is great and includes links to the GPX tracks on RideWithGPS. While the ODT is a paved trail, there is a parallel section west of Port Angeles called the Adventure Route of the ODT which is dirt. In the end, I didn’t make it to Mount Muller, but had a lot of fun on the 3 day mountain&road biking trip.
My ride started on Friday evening from Sequim, heading east on the ODT. Perfect weather, smooth trail, just cruising along. The trail is usually far enough from the road that it’s pretty quiet.
From Sequim Bay state park, I headed up to Dungeness creek, but via a sort-of-maintained trail on an abandoned forest road (NF 2880) that goes past the supposed East Crossing campground. The trail was pretty easy to follow and nice in principle, but tons of spiders had put up residence and made it mucho myserable. I was so glad to be done with it. However, the elevation profile of this trail makes it a much better choice than taking the NF-2870.
The Lower Dungeness trail, however, was in perfect condition. Many sections were rideable up with full bikepacking gear. Very fun! I didn’t meet anyone, and with it getting late, I got some water from a creek, found a level spot away from the trail, and set up camp in the dark.
Morning came and after munching on an energy bar, I went right back to sleep. Finally, at 9 am I decide to pack up and actually ride by 10 am. No bugs, mild air, birds singing, no rush to anywhere. Just enjoying the journey.
And today’s journey was still to be decided. First, I rode up to the upper trailhead parking lot – and saw a huge parking lot overflowing with cars. Odd, noone was on my trail. They must all be headed into the Olympic Wilderness, kind of ironic that there are way more people hiking in the official Wilderness than on the adjacent trails. I guess the title Wilderness really draws in the crowds.
After riding up a FS dirt road, I start down on the Gold Creek trail. What a beauty – trail and scenery are magnificent.
At the junction with Sleepy Hollow trail, I decided that I’d rather go adventuring towards Mt. Zion than finish this loop in another 20 minutes. So, off I go on the former forest road – now trail. Someone had done a pretty nice job clearing the Alder trees from the trail – though 4″ high sticks had been left that looked like lances for my tires! My tires made it unharmed, though.
For some reason, this trail really wore me down and soon I was wishing it’d be over. And when there’s nothing wrong with the trail, it means that I was pooped out. Just past Gold Creek, I took a half hour+ break, mainly consisting of coffee and gummy bears.
Feeling somewhat refreshed, I kept going up to the Mt. Zion trailhead. There I met a couple friendly hikers, and after some chatting, they filled up my ziplock feedback with trailmix. Yay – good chow, and I was now definitely set with enough food to make it through the night. The trail up Mt. Zion is incredibly nice. With lots of hikers letting me pass, I felt obliged to ride up some steep parts and steps. It’s hard not to show off when everyone’s watching – even if they are elderly hikers :). 45 minutes later, I was at the top and enjoying the view. Hazy – but beautiful in its own way.
The bike made short work of the downhill towards Dungeness Forks campground. I had laid out a route via forest roads towards Port Angeles, but after a while that got tiresome as the number of crazy drivers increased, who were out to shoot their big guns. Time to leave this madhouse and return to civilization: the ODT. I can’t say enough good things about the ODT. It’s paved: yes, it’s flat: yes, but sometimes that feels really good after mountain biking for a day.
The next destination was the adventure route of the ODT. I didn’t expect more than one of those new-age 12 feet wide multi-use gravel trails. Boy was I wrong! The adventure route is first class single track. Almost 24 miles of it (3 miles towards the end are gravel FS road). Make that an out&back, and we’ve got 40 miles of single track, with only 6000 ft. el. gain on volunteer-maintained single track. All switchbacks were rideable, no overgrown trail, lots of flow. Truly a gem that I hadn’t expected. The motorized-vehicle barriers along the way were of a design I hadn’t seen before and found to be quite challenging to go through. (I forgot to take a picture of these things.)
I had to turn around at this point and didn’t make it to Mount Muller. Maybe next time.
Stopped for some food at a gas station in Port Angeles and then munched on said food while enjoying the sunset at the ferry landing for a few minutes. The next 20 miles were mostly in the dark and had me back in Sequim in a couple of hours.