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The Ivory Jack's Loop (Formerly Known as the O'Connor Creek Ride)

By: Liam Wescott

This is a ride that used to go straight up O'Connor Creek from the Ivory Jacks parking lot (by way of Jones Road) and then over to Moose Mountain, down the side of same, and back to the cars, either by way of subdivision roads or going over to the trail at the top of Waldheim Road and thence to Jones Road.  We decided that it would be easier to go out Goldstream Road over to the Pack Trail and then on up to Old Murphy Dome Road to Moose Mountain.  It is longer that way, but probably a bit faster and considerably less work because you avoid O'Connor Creek, which in a wet year that trail can be very, very muddy, swampy, boggy (in places) and a bear to ride up.  As it is configured (and mapped) now, this ride is about 24.5 miles long with around 2700 feet of elevation gain.  A determined rider or group of riders could probably finish this ride in under two hours, if all the conditions are right (i.e., it's not muddy or wet) but most people will take between three and three and a half hours to do it.  Figure 3+ hours if you want to go slow and mellow, 2 to 2.5 if you want to go fast and furious.  If it is a hot day, bring a fair amount of water and food.  You'll need both.

Start at the Ivory Jack's parking lot on Goldstream Road.  Ride east on Goldstream Road for a little bit over five miles.  You'll have to do a couple small hills and a couple short descents but after you start climbing up out of the crossing at Eldorado Creek, look to your left for a road called Clifden.  Turn left here.  It is just about exactly 5.1 miles or so from the start of the ride.  Immediately before it, there is a trail going up the hill at the site of (as of July, 2005) the new fire station.  You can take this trail and cut a tenth of a mile off your pavement distance, but it essentially comes to the same place.

At any rate, turn left at Clifden, climb up the hill and you're now on the ridge road going over to the Pack Trail.  Stay on this ridge road, still heading east, for a mile and a half or so until you come to the top of Waterford.  There is a trailhead in the woods, marked by a handicapped sign going off to the east.  This is called the Pack Trail and it is a lot of fun to ride up (and even better riding down!) but be warned, if it is a wet year and/or it has rained recently, there will be a number of deep ruts, puddles, etc. that you'll basically just have to ride on through if you can't ride around them.  Take this trail.  Follow it for the next three miles or so, riding up and along the ridge, until you come out on a really, big, wide, trail that vehicles can actually drive on. 

Turn left (north) here and ride this really big, wide trail for the next three quarters of a mile or so until you get to Old Murphy Dome Road.  Turn left again and follow the road for the next four or five miles or so.  You are now on part of the course of the Treasure Creek ride.  The terrain is generally long rolling hills, so be prepared for some longish uphills and a few fast downhills. 

Finally, you drop down into a saddle and there is a small trail heading off to the left (south) which is the O'Connor Creek trailhead.  You can go ahead and take this trail (it's a lot more fun going down that trail rather than going up!), but be warned, this descent should not be attempted at speed by a beginning rider!  There are lots of nice, big, gnarly rocks, and the like hiding in the bushes and grass and stacking here isn't pleasant.  When you get to the bottom, you then have to slog out of the O'Connor Creek drainage and back to Jones Road, which can take a while.

If you don't decide to take the O'Connor Creek shortcut, keep on going up Old Murphy Dome Road.  A short while after you leave the O'Connor Creek trailhead intersection, the maintained portion of OMDR ends.  Take the double-track portion of OMDR going off to the west.  You drop down, climb up a little hill, and come to a fork.  Take the left fork.  You drop down and do another little climb to a clearing where the right fork rejoins the double-track you're now on.  Keep on going on the double-track you're on for a few hundred feet or so until you come to another fork.  Take the left fork again and do a three-quarter mile climb up this road (which goes up to one of the old Nike missile sites) and when you get to near the top, take the big, obvious trail going off to the right, along the powerline.

This trail follows the powerline over to Moose Mountain.  You will have a few up-and-down rolling hills to climb before you top out at the Moose Mountain ski area.  The trail along the powerline generally has several deep ruts, puddles, ravines, etc. and you'll have a couple descents that are fun for technical, dowhill descents, if you're into that sort of thing.  Some of the puddles are deep enough that in a wet year and/or recent heavy rains, you can count on getting your feet wet.

Finally, you get to Moose Mountain.  Take the double-track on down from the top.  If you know what you're doing, this descent is a fun, fast, technical descent that can be done at quite a bit of speed by an experienced rider.  If you're not experienced, take it nice and easy coming down this hill.  You come out on a road. Go across it to the driveway and then take the section line down to another road.  This section line descent is a lot of fun but again, you have to know what you're doing  in order to descend this hill at speed.  Make sure you have good brakes!  If your brakes crap out on you, you will be in a world of hurt.

When you get to this road, you can either turn left or right.  Going left takes you around the hill and over to a trail connecting you with the top of Waldheim Drive, which then connects to Jones Road.  Going right (which is what is mapped) takes you on several subdivision roads down to Ivory Road, which puts you out on Goldstream Road, at the intersection with O'Brien Road.  Turn left here and ride back over to Ivory Jack's parking lot and your car.

Congratulations, you have just finished the Ivory Jack's Loop!