If you ever need a break from the long climbs and descents in this area, take a spin around Applegate Lake!
Generally below the snow line, and above the valley fog, this year-round ride is also rarely muddy thanks to predominately DG soils. This is a smooth, forested cross-country singletrack that follows the shoreline with some beautiful lake views and even opportunities to 'dive in' on those hot muggy summer days. It's best to do this ride early morning in summer.
Expect this ride to take 2 to 3 hours at a relaxed pace, with breaks. There is a small store at the Hart-Tish campground open during the summer. Keep your eyes open for poison oak which is common in this part of the state.
This is easily ridden in either direction. From the Swayne viewpoint parking near the dam, follow Da-Ku-Be-Te-De
south, along the west shore of the lake. When the reservoir is low, the trail may feel a little exposed in places. Following the contour, zoom in and out of side drainages, with frequent views of the lake and the Siskiyou mountains.
ends at Watkins Campground. Turn south here on the paved Applegate Road and follow it to the end of the lake to Seattle Bar. Here, turn left on a small gravel road (Manzanita
Road). Within a couple hundred feet, the Stein Butte Trail
heads up the hill on your right. Continue on Manzanita
Road for 1-3/4 miles, gaining 250 feet, to a sharp turn in the road where you turn left on Payette
starts with a downhill run, then resumes the swooping contouring, heading north along the east shore of the lake. There are occasional junctions with feeder trails in the vicinity of walk-in campgrounds and a short section of gravel two-track near Squaw Creek. Three-quarters of a mile before you reach the French Gulch trailhead parking, pay attention to a signed intersection: a couple of dead-end trails go left here out to a peninsula.
When you reach the paved road at the northern end of Payette
, go left for a little over a mile, crossing the dam back to your starting point.