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The Berry Ridge/OMDR/Murphy Dome Loop

By Liam Wescott

This is one of those strange, "adventurous" rides that starts out fairly routine but quickly morphs in a slog through the woods and tussocks before coming out on solid, ridable ground again on Old Murphy Dome.  This ride started out as an "alternative" ascent up to Abraham Road for the Lincoln/Cache Creek Tuesday Night Ride.  I had the idea that there must be a trail on the ridge above the gravel pit at 7 Mile Murphy Dome Road.  Sure enough, there is, but it's not much of a trail.   This ride is around 14 miles long and it's not too difficult but it can be long and it can tax you if you're not in shape.  There is around 2700 feet of total elevation gain on this ride.  A determined rider or group of riders could probably complete this ride in around two hours, but most people will probably take between 2.5 and three hours to complete it.  This is by necessity also a summer-only ride.  If you tried this ride in the winter, you'd probably end up slogging all the way up to Old Murphy Dome Road

You start at the gravel pit/quarry thing at about 7 Mile Murphy Dome Road, a little ways before the pavement ends and Murphy Dome Road starts going on up the hill.  There are two ways to start this ride.  You can either push your bike up the slope above the gravel pit (a short, brutal slog) to get to the ridge or you can ride back east on Murphy Dome Road for about a tenth of mile or so to Richard Berry Drive. This is the route we took, although the map doesn't show that because my GPS didn't record the first half-mile or so of the ride.  Damn GPS.  Anyway, head over to Richard Berry Drive and start climbing.

The road makes a sharp hairpin turn to the right and begins a long, tedious slog up to the end of the subdivision.  It's something a little over a mile or so before the road ends at a cul-de-sac.  Just inside the entrance to the last driveway at the cul-de-sac of Richard Berry Drive is the trailhead for the trail following the ridge over to Old Murphy Dome Road.  Take this trail and start following it.  The trail starts out as a nice, fairly wide single-track trail, if a fairly bumpy and (in places) technical trail.  There are a few nice flat sections that afford excellent views of the Tanana Flats and the hills to the south.  There are also a few little grinding uphill sections here and there.  After about a mile and half or so, the trail gets a bad case of ADD, loses interest, and become a narrow, winding, single-track trail that finally peters out just before you come out on Old Murphy Dome Road.  You will probably have to walk your bike for about the last third or so of this trail before you finally emerge on Old Murphy Dome Road, about 200 yards to the west of the intersection with Spinach Creek Road.  You should be just about exactly four miles into the ride at this point.

Stop here, take a rest, check out the great views and vistas all around you, and then turn left (west) here.  You immediately bomb down a short, steep descent, flatten out, and then have a long(ish) slog to get to the top of the next hill.  Old Murphy Dome Road follows this same general course for the next few miles, a nice descent here, another grinding uphill there, and some flat sections along the way until you finally emerge onto Murphy Dome Road, about six miles or so after you came out on Old Murphy Dome Road.  Stop here for a quick breather and turn left (south) downhill.  After about a half-mile or so, you come to the intersection with Abraham Drive.  If you're so inclined, you can follow this road off to the east along the ridge until you get to the marvelous descent at the end and take the nine miles of rolling hills on Cache Creek Road back the cars (which is the Lincoln/Cache Creek Loop ride) or you can climb the little knoll and folllow Murphy Dome Road back down to the cars.

If you do so, you are treated a marvelous descent in its own right.  Murphy Dome Road drops down for the next three miles or so.  There are a couple pitches on this descent that can be done at speed, if you know what you're doing and you're comfortable riding down a bumpy, gravelly road at 40+ miles an hour.  About a half-mile or so before the gravel pit, you get back to pavement and the road flattens out.  The gravel pit is just after the bridge.  Turn left, and there you are back at your car.   Congratulations, you have successfully completed the Berry Ridge/Old Murphy Dome Road/Murphy Dome Road Loop!