“Tough climbs with great views and beautiful wildflowers.
— Leslie Kehmeier
The Windy Mountain loop is an alpine experience with pine forests and big meadows in the Highwood Mountains.
Start this ride on Windy Mountain (#454)
, just off of Thain Creek (#411)
on the north side of Thain Creek campground. The route climbs steadily up the Thane Creek drainage before turning toward the southern flanks of Windy Mountain. The trail itself isn't overly technical, with a bit of loose rock mixed with hard-packed soil.
The route steepens as it climbs to just below the craggy peak and then traverses around the southeast side before turning south. There are great views of the surrounding Highwood Mountains as well as beautiful wildflowers in season.
From here, there are two gradual descents punctuated by a short, steep climb before reaching Marie Springs
Settle in for another high climb and descent through a mix of pine forest and open meadows. Take a right on Kirby Creek
and then right again on North Fork Highwood Creek.
Descend steeply into the North Fork Highwood Creek drainage and then bear left on Center Ridge
. The route climbs gradually here to contour through high sage meadows, looping to the south and then back north towards the North Fork Highwood Creek.
Another steep descent brings you to Thain Creek (#411)
for a gradual climb through pine forest. The last bit of the ride is a quick, fast descent, bringing you back to the trailhead.