“An outstanding taste of the riding up near Stanley - but it's just a taste!
— Michael Ahnemann
Although there's some paved and dirt road riding required to make this a full loop, the singletrack is a sweet reward. You're never too far from where you started, but this feels like a much more remote ride than it is.
And this is just a taste of the extensive network of trails in this area, including Antz Basin and the Castle Divide ride.
Start at the Williams Creek
trailhead off highway 75. There's plenty of parking here, and you'll be glad you can coast back to your car at the end of the ride. You'll be starting out with a road ride warmup. Ride about 2.3 miles until you see Fisher Creek Road
on your left.
Take that left turn, and you'll slowly build up the wattage as you continue up the road. It starts out almost flat, working its way past some old cabins. The road is currently closed to vehicles just under 2 miles from the highway due to some big washouts, which have singletrack ride-arounds. It gets slightly steeper as it continues, but the first 2/3 of the climb is just a consistent grade, with increasingly interesting scenery along the way. You'll enter into the edge of a large burn zone, the result of a devastating fire that has drastically changed the landscape along this ride. But the parts down low are lush and green amongst the burned sticks coming out of the ground.
The last 1/3 of the climb gets quite a bit steeper - still rideable by most, but it's more of a grunt to the top. You'll come to a gap in a fence which marks the start of the singletrack, and the true start of the fun. There's a station to sign in here.
Get ready for a swoopy, fun descent along Fisher Creek Trail
. It's a little loose in places, but generally flows well, letting you open it up a bit. Wind your way to the intersection with Pig Tail
and Williams Creek
Take a left on Williams Creek
trail and get ready for more fun to come, but don't rejoice yet - you still have about 400' of climbing to get through. The climb is all singletrack, and not difficult at all, although there is a short washed-out section just before the saddle. The interesting scenery will keep you occupied, although you might find yourself wondering how beautiful and cool this ride would have been in the deep forest before the fire.
Eventually you'll reach the obvious high point, then you'll round a corner and down you go! It's hard not to grin on this one - the trail surface is tacky with tree cover and shade - it's one of the best descents around. It's mostly smooth, and it flows so well you'll challenge yourself not to touch the brakes except in a few tighter corners. But be careful - while very few people ride up this trail, it's been known to happen and it's NOT a downhill only trail, despite the ridiculous flow. So keep your eyes open and be careful.
Towards the bottom you'll emerge from the trees into more grassy surroundings, and you've got one more short but sharp climb before descending the rest of the way to your car.