This is high mountain trail riding at its best. This ride is a bit rocky in spots pushing it toward a difficult rating, and the elevation will kick your butt on the climbs, but it's a fun "old school" adventure trail. Lower Pond Loop climbs above timberline with fantastic views in every direction, and drops into high mountain meadows.
This trail is not well signed. Do not attempt this ride unless you have good GPS or map skills. Some signs say Marathon Trail
, some simply say "Trail", and some intersections are not signed.
From Highway 143, turn onto Forest Service Road 048 (the Sidney Valley Road). It's a well maintained gravel road. Travel about 2 miles up this road and look for a large metal gate on the left with a smaller "bike gate" next to it. Park here and pedal the remaining 2.4 miles up the gravel road (FS 048) to the ridge.
At the ridge, go left (west) onto the Bunker Creek (Right Fork)
and continue climbing. After 2.4 miles you'll come to the intersection with the Dark Hollow and Marathon Trail
. Turn left (south) onto the Marathon Trail
(do not go down the Dark Hollow trail, which is on the right). Go about 4 miles down to the first pond and take another left just before the fence that surrounds the pond. There will be two small stream crossings after this left. Continue closing the loop staying left until you enter a large meadow. Follow the trail through the meadow and over another stream crossing. Climb the hill, out of the meadow, and back to your car.