“A very scenic backcountry loop with some sections of excellent singletrack with hike-a-bikes.”
— Mike Bostick
This loop has a little bit of everything. Hike-a-bike sections, excellent singletrack, creek crossings, beautiful views of the Southern Wind River Mountains, mosquitoes, wildlife, thick pine forests and an abundance of rocks on the singletrack and ATV trails. It deserves five stars for scenery, especially between Fiddlers Lake and Christina Lake. It deserves two stars for rideability. Lake Louis Road is well maintained and the Lake Louis hiking trail is decent expect for erosion issues, but the hike-a-bike section starts very early on the Christina Lake Trail
singletrack and never really lets up except for short sections between Fiddlers and Christina. The rideable sections are amazing, but the amount severely limits the enjoy-ability of riding this trail to Gustav Lake. If you like riding 18"+ boulder fields intermixed with steep grades, marshes and creeks then this is the ride for you. If not, consider taking the dog and a fishing pole instead of pushing your bike most of the way.
Given the technical nature of the Christina Lake trail it should be considered double black due to the amount of hike a bike, while the ATV trail would be a blue/black and the Louis Lake trail a blue/black.
Need to Know
There are at least 4 main creek crossing along this trail. See the Description for depths. There are also mud holes along the ATV trails.
Park at Louis Lake Lodge and pedal north on Louis Lake Road towards Fiddler's Lake (this 5-mile section on a dirt road can be shuttled if you wish). Take the turn titled Christina Lake Trail
The Christina Lake Trail
is a fun, but challenging trail that will get you away from the crowds and into the backcountry. Most of the trail between Fiddlers and Christina Lake is steep and technical with lots of large rocks. There are a few mellow sections with some very nice smooth singletrack. Expect sections of hike-a-bike most of the way to Christina Lake unless you can ride serious boulder fields (continuous 18"+ sections) some of which are steep and some of which are swampy.
The trail is completely in the trees and is very cool in the summer, a nice escape from the summer heat. Because of the high elevation expect snow and mud in the spring and fall and sometimes in the summer if it has been rainy. The singletrack section between Fiddlers and Christina has at least 4 decent creek crossings that in July of 2016 were anywhere from knee to waist deep. One could be crossed on placed logs but the others had to be waded. You'll follow this trail until you get to Gustav Lake. Mountain biking this section is technical, so if you are not an experienced rider you'll end up hiking a lot of this section of trail.
At Gustav Lake, you have the option to continue one more mile to Christina Lake. If you're up to it, head up to Christina Lake and take in the views.
Back at Gustav Lake the singletrack gives way to a wide rocky ATV trail (Christina Lake Road/FR 355) with a wide but calf deep creek crossing to start. You'll be on this rugged ATV track for a couple of miles before you take the cut-off to the Louis Lake Trail
. Once across this creek the trail is very rocky with large ATV mud holes that were deep enough at this time of year (July) that they should be hiked around to avoid possible bottom bracket damage. If you want they can be ridden though. There are probably close to 8 of these ATV holes before the turnoff to the Louis Lake hiking trail (singletrack). Most of the ATV trail is rideable, but still a little technical for the inexperienced rider.
Take a left off the ATV trail when you see the Louis Lake hiking trail sign. This singletrack has less rocky sections than the ATV and Fiddlers/Christina singletrack section and is much more enjoyable to ride. It has excellent views of the surrounding mountains and Louis Lake. The trail starts out mellow but then gives way to steeper descents with a decent amount of trail erosion. Most of it is rideable though. It is not recommended to ride up this trail due to the grade, but it can be done with some hike-a-biking between sections.
This loop is a true EPIC backcountry mountain bike experience that affords you great scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. It is not for the faint of heart. Allow at least 3-4 hours to ride the full loop due to its technical nature. It may be more enjoyable for inexperienced riders to hike this trail instead.