That new Trail Smell – Orcas Island
From the Got Singletrack! archives by Erik A » Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:30 pm
Orcas Island or in particular Moran State Park was our destination for Sunday a trail system that I’ve been trying to make time for over the last four years. The trails are only open to Mountain Bikes in the winter where the days are shorter, the weather is hit or miss and it is a long drive along with a ferry ride for a one day trip. Tim planted the bug earlier in the week about a day trip to Orcas and the timing was just right. I had just returned from being cooped up in a hospital room for two weeks visiting my Dad then a flight back home had me busting at the seams to get out for a long drive, stretch the legs out on a ride to blow off some stress. Roped in a few more to join us then Tim got himself sick and had to bail. I wasn’t in the mood for something local and wanted to explore a new trail system and planned going solo or with a group and glad that several were still game to go. The drive to Anacortes was not bad at all when you leave at 6:30 on a Sunday morning there is very little traffic. Purchased our ticket for the Ferry then got something to warm us up, it was mighty windy and cold even though the sun was out.
We rolled onto the Ferry at 9AM and enjoyed the views of the islands as the ferry made its way to Orcas Island. We were joined by Ken, Grant and Austin who would be riding from the Ferry to the Trail and Back. Did I mentioned that I had been cooped up for the last two weeks, yeah I am driving to the Campgrounds and starting from there this trip. It’s 14 Miles from the Ferry Landing to Moran State Park that was the pavement route it is my understanding there is a dirt road route too.
Our destination Orcas Island would not be much longer and we would be riding to the high point.
We made our way to Moran State Park, I don’t think I had any particular expectation of what would be on the island, but rolling hills and Farms with cows, goats, sheep was still a surprise for some reason. As this was my first visit to Orcas we checked out a few options on where to park before settling on the campground. Got our gear loaded then up the road we started, figured for my first time lets ride up to the top then come down the trails.
It sure would be nice to have this climb closer to home, a nice quiet road that stays about the same grade to the top with a few steeper pitches thrown in for good measure.
Near the 2 mile mark we were rewarded wtih some great views. The clouds were starting to roll in now.
As we got closer to the top the temps dropped and snow started to appear along the sides of the road.
Finally we arrived to the top of Mt Contitution it was windy and cold. All the sweating on the climb up was now causing me to freeze. Still I took in the views along with several photos.
I took a photo of a couple near by and so they offered to take our group photo.
Now that we are at the top it is time to check out all this great singletrack I’ve heard about. Parts of the very top have some exposure and with snow over the trails and the rock slabs wet it had me on my toes. It wasn’t long and the snow was behind us and only dry trails ahead of us.
This was our last view before diving down into the trees for the remainder of the ride. Trails are smooth not very technical at this point with great flow and points where you can really get moving and others that point up and you grind away. We finished up with the Little Summit Trail came out to the road, from there we climbed back up the road to connect up with Cold Springs.
Parts of Cold Springs reminded me of the upper part of Preston before it gets wide and goes on forever…..and leaves a HUGE smile on your face.
I’ll be back with my Son to ride these and the next sections for sure and what a great view of the lake. From here we continued towards Mountian Lake as we worked our way back to the Truck. Great views of the lake and came across a guy laying on one of the bridges doing sit ups with weights. Saw us coming, stopped doing situps and just sat there and ignored us did not say Hello back kind of weird situation.
Getting a bit tired now and started to climb up away from the Lake. There is a bowed log here and a great place to take a break and eat something before moving along. Ran across a few hikers along the way, but no others on bikes figured we’d run across Ken and company by now too.
- Orcas_route.jpg (70.04 KiB) Viewed 148 times
As we came up to Cascade Falls trail a father and his 7yr old on a bike with a coaster brake were riding up the trail . As it got steeper he just stood up and continued to pedal away with no sign of slowing down. That is when I asked the Dad how old he was.
After Mountain Lake Trail we connected with Cascade Falls trail back to a Dirt Road that took us back to Pavement just above where we parked the Truck. Next time we’ll explore one of the other trails that comes out some where below where we parked. I had high expectations from all that I heard about these trails and I am happy to say my expecations were exceeded. I am not normally a fan of riding roads on my Mountain Bike, but did not mind the 5 mile road ride to the top. I would ride it that way again and try to include the Cascade Lake trail next time around too. We made it just in time to be the last car onto the Ferry saving us from having to wait 3hrs for the next Ferry. That is also about the time rain finally arrived what a great way to finish the day. I love riding new to me trails and this one really hit the spot.
Final thoughts a Great trail system well worth the full day investment to go out and enjoy them. The ride took us 4hrs covered 17.43 Miles, 3108 Elevation Gain, Calories expended? The equivalent to 23 Twinkies.