Basic map

3-D view

Elevation profile

This is a fairly straightforward winter ride that isn't too hard but will give you a bit of a workout nonetheless.  It is about 12 miles long and takes around two hours to complete at a leisurely pace.  A determined rider or group of riders could easily do it in well under two hours, but most people will take a bit longer to do it.

Start at the Ivory Jack's parking lot.  Head south toward the Commuter Trail that goes to Sheep Creek.  You can do this either of two ways, 1) take the road right behind Ivory Jack's proper (with the "No Trespassing" sign on it, you can ignore that!) or 2) go over to O'Brian Road and follow the trail down alongside same until you get to the end of the airstrip (you used to be able to ride straight down said airstrip, but alas, that is no longer the case).  Either way, you come to a pretty Alaskan house (with the obligatory "No Trespassing" and "Private Property" injunctions warning you to stay away under pain of death and/or dismemberment) and pick up a snowmachine trail going south.  This is the Commuter Trail.  It rides straight on down the valley for almost a mile past the end of the airstrip until it crosses a little bridge over Goldstream Creek.  Then, it parallels the Alaska Railroad for a little while until it puts you out at the crossing of Sheep Creek Road, just east of Ann's Greenhouses.

Once there, you can either ride the first trail that spurs off to the east or pick up the bike path and ride it for about 300 feet until you get to a snowmachine trail going off to the east.  Either way, you head off across the valley toward Ballaine Hill.  Depending upon the snowmachine and/or mushing traffic, the trail may be very well packed or it may be grungy and soft.  If it is hard-packed, you can make excellent time cruising across the valley.  After a mile or so, you cross over Miller Hill Road.  Keep going and after about another mile or so, you sort of parallel a driveway off of Miller Hill for a while, following a powerline easement.  There are a few side trails that spur off up the hill (including one right off of Sheep Creek, about a quarter-mile from the railroad that is a BLAST to come down in the winter!) which can be explored later.  

In short order, the powerline leaves the residential area and starts across the frozen bogs and swamps before getting to Ballaine Hill.  The line does a weird triangular jog along two section lines, then meanders back toward Ballaine Road.  You come out at the bottom of the hill.  You can now either ride the bike path directly or take the snowmachine trail that parallels it for a bit, crosses over Goldstream Creek, and then links up to it (as is mapped).  Once you pick up the bike path along Ballaine, it is a long, boring two-mile slog uphill out of the valley to Goldstream Road.  You can take a shortcut at the intersection of Trice, ride over to Goldstream, and then back to your car, but that is not what is mapped.

When you get to the Vallata Restaurant, keep on riding up the hill behind it.  The road you are now on is called Cordes Road and it goes on up to the airstrip above the restaurant.  Turn right here, follow along the airstrip until you get to the path going along into the woods.  Follow this trail for about 2/10ths of a mile until you see a rough, single-track snowmachine trail going down the hill.  Turn left here and follow this narrow, twisting, winding little (EXTREMELY technical, depending upon how much snowmachine traffic, horse traffic, and moose traffic has been upon it) trail all the way down into the valley.  You come out at O'Connor Creek.  Be careful when crossing the overflow here!

Follow the trail across O'Connor, turn right (uphill) when you get to the first trail crossing, and follow this trail through the woods until you come to a little clearing in the woods.  The trail forks, take the right fork and follow it up to the main O'Connor Creek trail. You can either go on up to Jones Road and take it all the way back, or (the much more fun route!) follow the trail as it parallels Jones Road, going downhill all the way, doing whoop-de-doos up and down the driveways and berms.  Eventually the trail ends at a driveway and you have to cross over to Jones Road, but do not despair.  Go down Jones Road for about 30 feet to the first driveway on the right.  Turn here and a few yards or so in, a trail takes off to the left.  Follow it for as long as you feel like (though if you go too far, you have to divert around the old dog yard).  This trail eventually comes to a driveway about a quarter-mile from the end of Jones Road.

Follow Jones Road to Goldstream and voile, there you are back at the Ivory Jack's parking lot, hale and refreshed and ready to do this ride again!