Cooper River Trail 2012

Cooper River still one of my favorites

In Ride Report by Hawkens

No season is complete without a spin on my favorite Washington river trail, Cooper river. The Cooper River trail offers beauty and a trail that is enjoyable to ride. Now the Mckenzie River trail is my absolute favorite river trail down in Oregon, but we’ll save that for a later Ride Report. For now lets focus on a river trail about an hours drive from my house.

A group of us including my brother made the trek to Salmon La Sac to ride Cooper River.  When we rolled in, the parking lot was packed with Hikers and Horses out enjoying this great trail. We would be riding Cooper River then continue towards Pete’s Lake turning around at the Wilderness Boundary.

Staring out it was a bit chilly, but that 1st climb from the parking lot gets you warmed up quickly.


After the 1st of many climbs we came up to a section that was blocked by some smaller fallen tree’s. Cleared those out and then continued on our way.


The trail was a like riding in flour in places really need some rain to reach this side of the mountains.


The trail rolls up and down then UP with a great views and sounds of the river along the way.


Up Up Up we go


As we rode in we did not see anyone else on the trail


Great trail


Loose trail conditions made navigating the rocks on the steeper climbs a challenge. A Fun Challenge


While it is certainly very dry some of the streams still had water in them


Is the climbing over yet


Couple more climbs then we reach the lake



Few shots of the river much lower than normal


After leaving the river there is a little bit of a climb then it is just small rollers until we exit to the road.


Cross the road and back on Singletrack again


Hint of the lake was

IMG_1590 Stitch

Nice place to sit and have a snack – Cooper Lake



From the lake we followed a trail that would take us to the Pete’s Lake trailhead. It’s always an adventure through this section, we’ve had some years were we hiked across snow banks to make it and other times bush whacking. This year it was clear.


A few climbs that sneak up on ya. One minute you are just rolling along come around a corner and quickly down shift for a short grunt of a climb.


The streams are not nearly as deep as past years


A few more climbs. There were three short grunts of a climb ahead, in previous years I recalled just dragging on these climbs. This time around kept a faster average pace and had plenty in the tank head up all these. Must be all these big rides this summer under my belt and that bike commute to work.






Another mile or two and we will reach the turn around point



End of the line bikes now welcome beyond this point.


Lunch break before turning around and riding back the way we came. Heading up this way we came across an army of hikers with big packs that had camped out in this area. Even a group with pack horses making the trek to the lake and beyond. As we were getting ready to roll a few other Mountain Bikers rolled in as us to take their photo then we rolled on.


Rolling back to the trail head ran across the hikers we had passed earlier. Several were surprised we made it to the boundary and back already. Also, came across many horses on this section.


Rolled back to Pete’s Lake trailhead and this was by far the fullest I have ever seen the parking lot. The road leading out and into the trailhead was full, some crazy park jobs where I am not sure how any in the lot would be getting out.


Continued on and captured one last photo look back at Cooper Lake. From there the photos are short….well because the trail has some great flow from this point on. Why stop when you are having fun.



When we rolled back to the cars, we could hear the horse folks giving some campers a hard time to put out their camp fire. Guess the campers did not see the numerous signs around the campground stating no camp fires. You’d think with how dry the area is they would try to follow the rules.

Once it finally rains I’d recommend heading out to this trail, it is clear and great riding.

15+  miles and 1918’ elevation gain.

Photo Credit: Brian H, Erik A, Eddie L