Plan on late July at the earliest to avoid snow melt and to make sure the singletrack trail portion has been cleared.
The often forgotten little brother of the more well-known Surveyor's Ridge Trail
, this strenuous lollipop route takes you on a steady fire road climb up to the rough Gunsight Ridge Trail
. Views of Mt. Hood from the trail are spectacular and it's likely that you could have the trail all to yourself.
Need to Know
The route below describes a long lollipop loop utilizing Bennett Pass Road (FR-3550) to climb up to the scenic Gunsight Ridge. If desired, a true loop can be created by descending on the Gumjuwac Trail, #480 and adding in several miles of riding on Highway 35.
The ride starts from the Bennett Pass SnoPark just east of Government Camp off of Highway 35. From the large parking area begin climbing on Bennett Pass Road (FR-3550) heading east, then south. As you pedal along the gravel road and in and out of the forest, views to the rear of Mt. Hood hint at the even better vistas that lay ahead. As you continue to climb a small clearing off the road to the right gives a direct line of sight to Mt. Jefferson to the far south.
At the four and half mile mark, reach the junction with Gunsight Ridge Trail
, #685, make a hard left and head up the rocky singletrack trail. The ridge trail, with several ups, downs, and technical sections is just over five miles long and parallels FR-3550. The trail dips in and out of the forest, across open meadows, and reaches a high point of 5920 feet. Here soak in the wide open views of Mt. Hood to the west by hiking a short distance off the trail out on the rocky outcrop. The trail dips and then climbs again wrapping around Gunsight Butte before sharply descending to Gumjuwac Saddle.
Reaching the end of the trail at the junction with the Gumjuwac Trail, #480 on the left (which takes you down to Highway 35 via a series of steep switchbacks) and FR-3550, turn right on FR-3550 and retrace your way along the fire road back to the southern end of the Gunsight Ridge Trail
. From here, cruise back down the fire road with a few small climbs to the parking area.