Winter: After Hours - Secret Trail - Valley Loop
Note: the upper parts of this ride are just fine in the summer, just stay out of the valley bottoms.
Riding time should be somewhere between 3 and 5 hours, assuming decent
conditions. If there's a lot of loose snow on the trails, maybe save
this for another day.
This is a ride that works best when the trails have gotten good. As mapped, the starting point is the pullout on the north side of Ballaine, prior to the bridge over Goldstream Creek. Ride north on Ballaine, over the bridge and get on the mushing trails on the east side of the road. For ease of directions, take your immediate right after jumping on the mushing trail, a dodgey bit of trail that parallels the road a short way then cuts into the woods. There are better trails, but we'll leave that to you to figure out.
After riding a couple of tenths of a mile through the woods, veer right and cross a wooden bridge, heading roughly south. When you merge with a wide trail, veer left to the east. This is a great trail, worth exploring. When you get to a four way intersection, turn right, headed back up Ballaine Hill. You'll stay on this trail all the way to a powerline. At the powerline, turn left, going uphill. Look for a trail that goes uphill behind the substation, following a powerline. You'll follow this powerline, riding (or pushing) trail and subdivision roads.
Eventually, after about 3/4 of a mile, it tops out near the top of Moose Trail. Look for the ridge trail immediately to your left, and hop on. This will take you up to the old KUAC transmitter site (big dish, tower and shack combo). It gets a little confusing up there, but look for the trail that hugs the ridgeline. It will go through a clearing, then drop a ways to a saddle in the ridge, with a fork in the trail.
This is an important fork. Right now, go RIGHT. This will take you all the way up to Rocky Top Rd, off Summit, Cranberry Ridge and all that. Just before getting out on Rocky Top (you can even see the road and a road sign from the trail), you'll come to a four-way intersection. To the north is the After Hours trail. To the south is the Secret Trail (shhh). If the trail looks like it will support it, follow the After Hours trail. Be prepared to go over the handlebars a few times -- it's a twisty, winding, potentially fast trail. When it bottoms out, intersecting with a wider trail, pedal back up the hill.
You'll come out at the Important Fork. Go left, following your tracks, back up to Rocky Top. This time, go right and follow the Secret Trail (if it will support riding). Ignore intersections and follow it all the way to a powerline. At the powerline, push your bike up to the top and you'll find yourself back at the old KUAC transmitter site. Follow your tracks again, all the way to the "Important Fork".
Veer left this time, and enjoy a fun descent down to the bottom of the After Hours Trail. There, you'll find that the trail continues into the woods. It crosses private property, but judging by the signs that are posted, the owners condone respectful trail use. So, if you aren't trenching things up too bad, continue down the hill, twisting and winding down this great trail, until you hit a T intersection, near the valley floor.
If you want, shorten the ride considerably by turning left. You'll merge with the same great trail that got you started, and at the four-way intersection, you can follow your tracks back to the car.
As mapped, turn right, and follow this trail. You'll pass a intersection with a trail to your left. Go straight. Eventually, it drops down and dumps you into the mine. Veer right, and work your way through the mine as shown on the map. Look for a good trail heading southwest. If you have to push your way through the mine area, that's normal. Snow machine traffic spreads out here, so the riding suffers. Assuming you find a nicely packed trail headed southwest, follow it, keeping to the best possible packed route. There are intersections, but it's doubtful that any of them will throw you. Eventually, you WILL see traffic on Ballaine Road. We'll leave it to you to work your way out to the road, using the best possible trail to get there.