This ride follows mostly raw singletrack through aspen groves with beautiful meadow crossings. This trail is highly recommended in autumn during the color change. I would schedule three hours for the 13-mile loop, if you stop several times for breaks and photo stops (especially in the fall season).
The last 1/4 mile of Forest Service Road 455 just before the Sheep Creek Trail (FST 645)
trailhead is steep and rutted. If you drive a 2WD, lower clearance vehicle you might consider parking in the area just before you see the road go steep up the last hill.
Need to Know
This trail doesn't get a lot of traffic so early in the summer things might appear a bit overgrown and show little sign of use.
Park at the end of Forest Service Road 455 (or at the bottom of the last hill - see above "Restrictions" section) at the top of the hill at the trailhead for Sheep Creek Trail (FST 645)
From the TH, it's a mile or so of slight downhill singletrack on Sheep Creek Trail (FST 645)
through aspen groves over to the Cave Creek Crossing. Then, there are a few ups and downs over semi-rocky singletrack until you hit the first tricky creek crossing for Twelve Mile Creek.
This is at just under three miles in from the start. Just after that, you'll see the fork for the Twelvemile Trail (FST 684)
. Hang a left onto this trail.
Now you are on the Twelvemile Trail (FST 684)
heading up. It's about three miles of rocky, gradual climbing. It's not super steep but has a few short rock gardens to keep you honest. You'll cross over a few small creeks, a few meadows, and see some older campgrounds. The trail might be a bit hard to see until you finally get to FSR 173
. There's a gate there, that's the road you want, to the right. Technically this is the highest point of this ride.
is an up-and-down, rocky and rolling 4WD road. You'll be on that for a mile or so, until you get to FSR 175
in the valley.
Just after you take a right onto FSR 175
, after approximately 1/10th of a mile you'll see a cairned exit to the right just before the road goes uphill. There is a sign posted. This is where you hop back onto Sheep Creek Trail (FST 645)
It's three miles of tight, twisting singletrack through forest, along the creek, and through some awesome sage brush, heading mostly downhill.
You'll eventually get back to the fork for Twelvemile Trail (FST 684)
. Head back the way you came (hang a left) to continue back on Sheep Creek Trail (FST 645)
, it's back up the singletrack from earlier, back to the TH.