This is the best way to link the trails in the area. This loops hits most of the singletrack and tears through the best downhill runs that the Cache Creek Natural Area offers. There is over 3,000 ft. of climbing and some of it is painfully steep, but the tough sections are short and rideable with good technique and strong legs.
Start at High Bridge parking area and cross Bear Creek. The switchbacks are all rideable, but can be a bit of a challenge if you're not in shape. Once on top, the trail passes a frog pond and opens up. Just above the pond, there is a signed intersection on the ridge, drop quickly downhill on 3 Ponds Trail
to Thompson Canyon. Cross Thompson Creek five times and then climb out to a little saddle where you can see Highway #16.
Ride across the meadow and look for a split in the trail. Take the left, turning west. This is Craig Canyon but the trail is called Thompson Canyon Trail
because the route climbs up a brutal, loose slope out of Craig Canyon and drops back down into Thompson Canyon.
Once you hit the creek in Thompson Canyon, bypass the brutal hike-a-bike up Thompson Canyon Trail
and look for a singletrack that stays in the creek bottom. There is a small landslide obstacle and a short bog section and several creek crossings but this is a way better route up the hill to the little shed that some call the Road Kill Cafe.
From the shack there are several options to gain the ridge. For this ride find the start of Dunfield Spring Cutoff
, cross 2 small drainage ditches. This first is right behind the shack. The second comes up quickly. The third is near the top of Thompson Canyon Trail
and you have gone too far. There is a tough section of climbing at about 0.7 of a mile and another shorter test at about the 1 mile mark. Both sections are short, so if you step off the bike it is no big deal.
The view at the top is worthy of the work. The trail soon joins up with the Cache Creek Ridge Trail
, follow it for a good mile in a northerly direction and then start looking for a solid trail on the right. The Ridge Spur
is a screaming fast descent back to the Shack. Long sight-lines and open terrain will give you the confidence to let 'er rip.
All too soon you'll pop out back near the Road Kill Cafe. Turn right and head South on Brophy Canyon Trail
. Do a couple short climbs and look for a well used jeep trail on the left at the top of the hill (going straight takes you out to Cache creek ridge). This is the upper end of the 3 Ponds Trail
, follow it for half a mile and veer off to the right onto Brophy Canyon to Bear Creek Trail
descent. The trail is a bit difficult to follow in some areas but super fun and fast all the way down to the river. This is a great way to end the ride. Cross Bear Creek, climb on the highway and go north, left, back up Highway 16 to the High Bridge parking area.