Unravel the Scratchgravel Route

Consensus:    (details)
  3.5 from 2 votes
blue  Intermediate from 2 votes
Rank: #1 in the Helena area
#38 in MT, #2,130 Overall
Views: 2,997. Last 30 days: 68
Condition Details | Update
Featured Ride in the area near Helena Valley West Central,
“A fun route through the Scratch Gravel hills for intermediate and experienced mountain bikers.”
Christine Eckel on May 21, 2013
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5.58.9 milesKilometers 586’179 m Ascent 4,566’1,392 m High 4% Avg Grade (2°)
30% Singletrack -584’-178 m Descent 4,257’1,298 m Low 13% Max Grade (7°)
The area is closed to motorized vehicles year-round.
0:53 average time for 5.5 miles. Details

This is the trail used by the Montana Bicycle Racing Association for the "Unravel the Scratchgravel" mountain bike race. It takes advantage of much of the available singletrack in the area. It's a nice, fun loop to ride! There's one short/steep climb and a singletrack descent that requires intermediate bike skills.

A major advantage of this area is that it is usually the first to dry off in the spring, thus making it a good place to go early on. Dogs are allowed off-leash here as well.
This route is ridden clockwise. Start by riding North on Echo Drive a few hundred feet until you see a cairn on the left side of the road. This indicates the start of the singletrack. The singletrack heads back southeast until it reaches a point that is almost directly across the road from the Echo Lane Parking Lot. Another cairn indicates it's time to make a right turn and head up the hill on doubletrack. From there the route follows the doubletrack road. After descending, you'll encounter another cairn indicating a right turn onto the doubletrack that heads up a very steep hill! Stay to the center if you want to stay on your bike.

Stop and check out the amazing views of Big Sky Country at the top of the hill, then descend down slightly rocky singletrack. There are a couple of tight turns on this descent, but it's fairly short. After the descent you'll turn left onto doubletrack again. The route is flat for a bit, then there is a wide, but sandy descent, and another cairn indicating it's time to turn right and head uphill again. Keep following the doubletrack until you see a cairn on the left side of the trail. This indicates you should make a left turn onto the singletrack. Follow the rolling (fun!) singletrack until it meets a doubletrack road once again at the top of a small hill. A cairn here indicates that you should turn right and head downhill. You'll now be heading back toward the parking lot. One last cairn is located at a fork in the doubletrack trail. Turn left at that intersection and you'll soon be back where you started.
History & Background
Check out the following web site for some interesting tidbits on the history of this former mining site: www.deq.mt.gov/abandonedmines/linkdocs/104tech.mcpx.
Land Manager: USFS - Helena National Forest Office
View in 3D
5.0 (1)
A challenging and rewarding ride along the Continental Divide with a descent ...
near Helena West Side, MT
4.3 (6)
A ridge traverse with moderate climbing, sweet singletrack and amazing views....
near Helena West Side, MT

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PHOTOS of Unravel the Scratchgravel Route
  2.3 from 3 votes
View looking back at the trail approaching the right turn (Helena Valley West Central, MT)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Cairn at fork in the trail indicates time to take a left turn, which wil... (Helena Valley West Central, MT)
  2.3 from 3 votes
The piles of rocks on the edges of the trail are a sign to tell you to t... (Helena Valley West Central, MT)
  2.3 from 3 votes
Last downhill heading back to the parking lot. (Helena Valley West Central, MT)
  1.7 from 3 votes
Echo Lane Trailhead Parking Lot (Helena Valley West Central, MT)