Thunder Mountain & Cassidy

My wife and I rode the Thunder Mountain Trail and 2/3 of the Cassidy Trail on Saturday.

Wow, Thunder Mountain is an incredible experience! It's amazing that there is a trail open to mountain bikes through such incredible scenery. We did the loop starting at the trail head at the bottom of Red Canyon then up the paved trail, then the dirt road out to the Coyote Hollow trail head and down the Thunder Mountain trail. Overall the trail is excellent, but it was dusty (just so dry right now) and many of the switchbacks are getting rutted and loose. The first part of the trail rolls up and down across several small drainages, then comes the other-worldly orange dirt and rock section with all the switchbacks, and it ends with a fast cruise back to the parking lot. Here are some photos:

Thunder Mountain Panorama (QuickTimeVR)

After lunch we hit the Cassidy trail. We started at the Red Canyon trail head. The Rich trail branches off of the Cassidy trail and crosses it several times, but we stayed on the Cassidy trail. (This may have been a mistake as the Cassidy trail has some tough technical challenges and I suspect the Rich trail is more moderate.) It was pretty hot by now (90s) and it sapped our energy, but it was still fun. We rode the excellent Casto, Cassidy, Losee loop a few years ago and had high expectations. Cassidy is good, but it is marred by a nasty descent into Losee that was all chewed up from horse travel while the trail was muddy, and even without that it would be a spooky ride down a steep, loose slope. From our previous ride, we expected Losee to be good. It still is, but the trail has been hammered by a lot of horse travel. As we went down, 2 groups of horses past us going up - one group was 15 or more! We discovered that a concessionaire (aka a business that got the OK to use public land for profit) is running horse rides up the canyon. I like horses, they're noble creatures, but the high amount of horse traffic is beating this fragile desert trail to death. It's already starting to form a trench and is easily, on average, 2" lower than when we rode it 3 years ago. Well, it's still a good trail worth riding, just be warned that it's not as good as it used to be and you'll probably run into horses on your ride. Photos:

If you're riding in this area, my 1st recommendation is Thunder Mountain, then the loop ride up Casto, across on Cassidy then down Losee, then Cassidy from Red Canyon.

1 comment:

Rod said...

What makes you think that fat knobby rubber tires screaming down a "fragile desert trail" (in your words) does not do as much or more damage to trails than horses hooves? I seem to recall pictures of the historic Oregon Trail showing wheel ruts in the trail not ruts from horses hooves! Maybe "its not as good as it used to be" because of mountain bike traffic and lack of trail maintainence by the undermanned and underfunded Forest Service! And further more what makes you so elite as deny people the right to enjoy natures beauty at a much slower pace by partnering with one of nature's "noble creatures." This seems more natural than bicycles.
We all enjoy natures beauty in different ways. We should be smart enough to learn to work together to ensure that the beauty and solitude that wild areas provide all of us remains for future generations to enjoy.