This scenic loop around Esmeralda Peaks is an excellent "mini" Cascade alpine sampler. It is a nice shorter backcountry ride with a solid long singletrack climb and a technical descent full of tricky switchbacks, plenty of root systems and even a bit of exposure to keep you honest. Anticipate 3.5 to 5 hours on trail, though the mileage is relatively short, the singletrack and jeep road climbs will take some time and an occasional hike-a-bike. Parking at the De Roux Campground and pedaling the quick 2 miles to the Esmeralda trailhead provides a nice warm-up as the trail immediately climbs steeply away and you will then finish the ride at your car.
The trail is shared by hikers, horses and the De Roux section by motos. Typical for the area the tread can become dusty with loose rock as a result of usage and horses leave their "usage" on trail :)
Up Esmeralda Trail 1394 (2,000 ft climb) to the saddle viewpoint at approx. 5900 ft elevation (ignore the steep spur trail at the saddle and continue over and head down). Do not take Trail 1390 (Lk Ingalls) or 1226.2 at junctions. Continue 1394 downhill until you hit a jeep road (4W301) and turn left (south). The jeep road has a short but quite nasty climb in it. Ride past Gallagher Head Lake about 100 yards or so and look for sign on your left pointing to De Roux-Boulder Trail 1392 (De Roux Creek), which is a singletrack heading down. Enjoy the trail back to the De Roux Campground.
If you feel that 12-ish miles and 2,700 feet of climbing isn't enough exercise to justify the long drive, there are lots of ways to extend the ride by starting elsewhere and riding to the loop. Many of the nearby trails are open to bikes.
This adds about 9 miles and at least 1800 feet of climbing. Tough climbing with lots of challenges: roots, scree, rocks, rutted trail, steeps, roots, rocks, you name it. Only for those who are in great shape.
Instead of using the regular directions, drive to Roslyn, then follow the Salmon La Sac road north, going about 7 miles past the end of the pavement at the Salmon la Sac campground, and go right up road [#??] to find the Big Boulder Creek trailhead.
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