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blue Bear Gulch - Tunnel Ridge Loop

  4.0 ( 2 ) Favorite


4.7 mile 7.5 kilometer loop
85% Singletrack


Ascent: 729' 222 m
Descent: -731' -223 m
High: 2,814' 858 m
Low: 2,276' 694 m


Avg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)


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Trail shared by Peter Carse

A short loop on the Sterling Mine Ditch trail system.

Peter Carse

E-Bikes Unknown

Features -none-


An alternative to riding the entire Sterling Mine Ditch Trail, this short loop showcases some of the best qualities of this trail system. This ride is described clockwise to take advantage of the gentler ascent of Bear Gulch.

Need to Know

Poison oak is common in this part of the state.


From the Bear Gulch trailhead, cruise up the drainage for a little over half a mile before switchbacking left and climbing up to the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail.

Turn right and follow the narrow singletrack along the edge of the historic canal for two miles, passing one of the largest madrone trees in the area, to Tunnel Ridge.

Here, rather than following the contour around the point of the ridge, the ditch builders tunneled straight through. Turn right on the Tunnel Ridge Trail and enjoy the fabulous descent for a mile through oaks and grass to the gravel Little Applegate Road.

To complete the ride to the Bear Gulch trailhead, turn right on Little Applegate Road and ascend a bit before descending to your car.

History & Background

Here is a short history of the Sterling Mine Ditch from the BLM website:

"Gold was discovered on Sterling Creek in 1854. The first gold was easily removed by panning. Eventually, the greatest success was achieved with hydraulic mining, which uses a powerful jet of water from a hydraulic giant to wash out gold lying under layers of soil and rock. Ditch construction began in 1877 to bring water from the Little Applegate to operate hydraulic giants. The Sterling Mining Company was the contractor. A 26.5 mile long ditch, three feet deep, was completed in December, 1877. Up to 400 workers, many of them Chinese laborers were employed to construct the ditch. The ditch was in use through the 1930s."

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Apr 26, 2016
Brady Smith
The ride along the ditch was nice and the downhill was a blast. The poison oak was thick and hard to avoid in places up Bear Gulch. 4.7mi — 1h 30m

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  4.0 from 2 votes
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