By: Tom Clark
This is a winter ride, and probably shouldn't be attempted as mapped as a summer ride. As shown, it is a 44 mile ride, though I took a few wrong turns here and there, so it ended up being almost 50 miles. Unless you are Rocky or Gail, don't bother trying this until about March, when the trails are set up good and hard. Even then, you need to have provisions for an all-day ride -- figure about 6 or 7 hours.
I started this ride at 3PM, and was riding along the rolling top of Ester Dome by 4PM, and it still took forever. Good thing that I had my headlight.
The directions won't be explicit. You need to basically be familiar with the area, and have a good sense of direction and adventure. If you get killed by lynx and eaten by ravens, it's not my fault.
Ride to the top of Ester Dome, and out the Marathon trail, to almost the turnaround point. Take the left branch of the "Y" intersection and follow the trail all the way to the "Fireplug" trail. Take the right branch of the "T" intersection and continue on, down, down, down. Woohoo! You'll swear this is one of the best damn downhills you've done in a long time. Near the bottom, when the trees get scrubby, slam on the brakes. You'll encounter a 3-way intersection. Go straight, not right. [Note: going right works very well if the trails are packed. It puts you out right near Saulich for a shorter but still very fun ride.]
Cross Straight Creek, and turn right at the 4-way intersection, or try going straight and see if you can find the Standard Creek trail system. Anyway, continuing right, go for a long ways, staying on the main path. Things might get dicey, and you might have to push or carry your bike for a mile. Cross Goldstream Creek, and cross the railroad tracks. Uphill of the railroad tracks you'll find a very good trail, the Dunbar trail. You can bail now (go right) or continue on by going left.
At a "Y" intersection, go right (gently up). Eventually, you'll come to a 4-way intersection where the intersecting trail is quite diagonal. Take your extreme right, uphill. This will take you to Cache Creek road. It can be icy... Ride it all the way out, about nine miles. Just before you get to Murphy Dome road, you'll note a trail to your right, going downhill. Take it, and stay on the main trail. This trail will take you down to the railroad tracks, which you'll cross back and forth on your way back towards town. After what seems like forever, you'll come to the big powerline.
At this point, you can take the trails on the north side of the tracks back to Sheep Creek, or you can follow the powerline south all the way to Ester Dome road.