Wednesday, March 9, 2011
White Ranch Loop and Conditions
White Ranch Outer Loop (Clockwise, w/ Shorthorn)
~13.5miles, ? elevation
Conditions: Ice/packed snow in shade
Had an opportunity to head out to White Ranch today, another recommended JeffCo trail which I'd never explored before, and wanted to give a conditions update. The outer loop seemed easy enough to keep me from too many map checks, with the exception of substituting the longer Shorthorn for the shorter Longhorn.
Decent/felt good despite the wind on the sunny part of the climb from the lower lot. The climb keeps going forever, though! I did enjoy the rolling descents as well. Actually clear and not too muddy for the first few miles.
Then, the descent near the upper parking lot, near where camping is allowed, was an ice fest. This was true for much of the backside in the shade. There was the faintest dusting of snow which actually gave a little bit of grip. And, as I think mtnrunner2 noted, the new Cascadias with the odd pinwheel grip on the bottom are better than the old ones, which were notoriously bad on slippery surfaces like wet rocks (still have to try them out on that). Which is nice!
Some mud on the wide-open doubletrack after the upper lot, but not too bad to slow you down. Then more intermittent ice and some solid-packed snow. (Sorry, no good pics, when I got in icy sections I just wanted to be done). Still tried running everything and lucked out, though a couple small uphills my feet slipped, cartoon-like.
Finally, at Shorthorn, I enjoyed the view of the trail that wound along the edge of the hill. The terrain definitely reminded me of Centennial Cone, another JeffCo trail. Unfortunately that ended up in snow and ice as well, some of the slipperiest of the day. Saw some noticeable Yak-trax tracks around there: good idea, but I would have been too lazy to switch them in and out. One set of bike tires as well: I wouldn't have wanted to have balanced on off-camber ice on the side of the ledge.
Overall, conditions were tolerable at best. I think warmer temps=more mud, and a weekend (more general traffic and even sloppier trails) would make it even less worth the effort. So it still seems like a few more weeks before it's ready for prime-time, unless you're dying to get out there. The ice really wouldn't be fun on a mt. bike right now.
Another enjoyable JeffCo option. Other than the waterbars, I see why this is a popular mt. bike trail, as the flow, similar to Centennial Cone, seems like it would work well for mt. biking.