Last week Alex, Chris and I went for a ride on Pine Creek Pass. I’ve been wanting to check this trail out since seeing it on a Forest Service map a while back and talked those guys into exploring it with me. Prior to the ride, I couldn’t find any details on the trail. Nobody I asked had ridden it before. There’s no mention or sign of it in any of the area bike trail guides or maps. The only info on the USFS map is a trail number (230). But from that I could tell it was basically the very end of the Big Hole Crest trail and came out right at the bottom of Pine Creek Pass. So with that very minor knowledge, we left a car at the first pullout on the left as we drove the rest of the way up and over the summit to the Spooky trailhead.
It may be a shorter distance to access this trail by starting at Grove Creek but after having walked most of that uphill a couple weeks previous, I opted for the slightly longer but more bike friendly Spooky to Corral Creek option. Once we reached the Crest trail we hopped off the bikes and pushed up the first of two hikes to get up to the ridge between Grove Creek and Drake Creek. From there we dropped down to Drake Creek and dismounted one last time to get up to the top of Rocky Peak. The views of the south valley from here are awesome BTW (Click the photo below to check out the 360 degree view).
The descent is incredibly fun. One of the better backcountry (unmaintained) downhills I’ve ridden around here. Long and straight with a really nice grade. The first half is actually pretty smooth. The second half gets a little bumpy but still isn’t that bad. A couple sections get a bit sketchy b/c of the loose rocks, if someone where to rake those off it would be fast. Overall, I think this could be a pretty popular trail with just a little maintenance. Even as is, I’d definitely recommend it to those riders looking for something new, scenic and technical.
On a side note, I demoed a Santa Cruz Bronson from Habitat for this ride. The Bronson is their all-mountain/enduro, 27.5″ wheeled rig. This bike is a beast! At roughly 30lbs with a 67 degree head tube angle, it probably wasn’t designed with epic XC rides in mind. That being said, it still gets up the hill just fine and takes whatever you can throw at it on the way back down. The 27.5″ wheels were a first for me. After checking out a 29er and hating it, I swore 26″ for life. I finally broke down and gave the 650b a shot and have to say they’re actually pretty sweet. While 1.5″ isn’t a huge difference, I could still feel a slight lack of responsiveness coming straight off my 26″ wheels. After just a few minutes on the bike, I had forgotten all about this, something I just couldn’t do with the 29er. By the end of the ride the 27.5″ wheels felt completely natural and seemed to ease out the rocky sections. The demo I had came with the Shimano SLX component package and Fox’s Evolution Series Float Shocks. Swap that out for the XT package and Factory Series shocks including a TALAS fork to lessen that head tube angle on the climbs and you have yourself a badass do everything bike.