This is a very long, taxing, and difficult ride in terms of endurance and stamina. If you are in shape for it (and you MUST be in excellent physical condition to attempt this ride!) it is actually not all that difficult, just a long, grueling endurance test. The total distance is around 58 miles and usually takes five or six hours to complete. A determined rider or group of riders could probably do this ride in under five hours, but most people take between five and six hours or longer to complete it. The point-to-point portion of the ride (from the top over to the gravel pit at 7 mile Murphy Dome Road) is about 33 miles and can be done in about three hours now. The ride has become that easy. Bring plenty of water and several energy bars. You will need both.
There are several places to start the ride. The easiest way is to start at the turnout just past Ann's Greenhouse on Sheep Creek Road. Ride up to Ester Dome Road, follow it for about a half-mile until you intersect Saint Patrick's Road, which goes to the left. Take that for the next three miles to Henderson Road and turn left. Turn right at Goldhill and right again at the Parks Highway. Follow the Parks for the next seven or eight miles until you get the upper intersection of the Old Nenana Highway. Turn right and go in about two miles until you get to the intersection of Standard Creek Road. Congratulations, you have climbed to the top of the Standard Creek Loop. You have covered about 15 miles (almost a quarter of the total distance) and gained about 1600 feet of elevation.
Follow this logging road down a very fast, cool, somewhat technical descent for a bit over 8 miles until you get to the bottom of the valley. You cross over Goldstream Creek, then the Alaska Railroad and a couple of miles later, the road forks. Take the right fork. Follow this road for the next five or six miles. This road used to be a little path that ran through the woods all the way over to the Lincoln Creek side of the valley, but now it is a fairly major, reasonably smooth logging road. About 16 or 17 miles from the top of the ride, the road peters out into a grassy double-track that eventually turns into single track.
This single track winds and wends along the edge of the valley, just above the permafrost line for about two or three miles before it drops down into a bog, crosses a creek (there is a rickety ramshackle wooden bridge over the creek that is not very sturdy or well maintained because it is NOT of Alaska DOT vintage!) and then ends up in a swamp. You will have to walk your bike through or around this swamp (about three quarters of a mile) before you come out on the other side of the valley at the Lincoln Creek logging area.
This is where the real work (and the elevation gain) begins. You begin a nine or ten mile long uphill slog that usually takes about an hour to complete. The road will contour along the hills, then drop down, and climb up again until you finally emerge at Murphy Dome Road. Drop down Murphy Dome Road and stop at the gravel pit if you have parked your car there and/or are part of the Tuesday Night point-to-point Standard Creek ride (which is what this ride originally did) or continue on Murphy Dome Road for another seven miles to Goldstream. Turn right and a couple of miles later you are back at the turnout on Sheep Creek.
Congratulations! You have now completed the Standard Creek (Short) Loop! Pat yourself on the back, snarf down an energy bar or two, glug down the last of your water (or if you have water and/or food in your vehicle, time to partake of same!), and cool down from the long ride you have just completed. You are now part of a select few, a very small number of crazy mountain bikers who have done the Loop. This is a long ride, but is also a lot of fun. If you do it on an evening, you will need to get an early start, say at around 5 or in the evening in order to finish before midnight.