How about a ride that has a little of everything? There’s smooth and wide, rocky and exposed, up and down(repeat), logging road climb, fast descents, remote location, rushing river, old growth, and some definite hike-a-bike(you can avoid most of this with a start variation). It begins with a roly poly up and down eventual descent to the Dungeness River. Once near the river you have some incredible old growth rain forest riding to a concrete bridge (the nominal half-way point). A logging road climb of over 1,000 vertical feet brings you to the Gold Creek Trail. This trail hugs the side of Dirty Face Peak – fast and smooth in places and very exposed in other spots, you’ll wish you had your seatbelt fastened. After some exhilarating downhills don’t think the climbing has stopped because this trail still has some steep short lungbusters ahead. Eventually you will start switchbacking down down down to the river and the road and the 1 mile(uphill) back to the car.
From the parking lot find the trail and begin! The first 3 miles have lots of steep ups and downs. You will be walking parts of this. There is a GREAT viewpoint near the end of this 3 mile grunt. (Many people avoid this hike-a-bike part by riding up the road from the parking lot and turning left at the T. Follow the main road to the 3 O’clock Ridge Trail on the left. As you are descending the road, this trail is very easy to miss. There is a photo of this trail turnoff in the images. From the parking lot it is 4.3 miles. Take this trail down ½ mile to intersect the Dungeness River Trail.) In a couple of miles you will come to a shelter and be right next to the river. Follow the trail 2 more miles and come to the bridge and the large parking lot and pit toilet and popular Royal Basin trailhead.
Cross the bridge, veer left and begin the road climb. This road ascends then descends to a bridge where the real climbing begins. After about 4 miles of road you will come to a trailhead/parking lot, soon after a sharp switchback in the road. You will see the start of the Gold Creek Trail on the left. Basically, follow this trail all the way down to the valley floor, 7 miles away. Nice downhills mixed with short, humbling climbs. Save some gas for this section! You will come to one fork, stay left on the main trail. When you reach the valley floor cross over the concrete bridge to the left (formerly road 2860 from East Crossing Campground) and begin a 1 mile moderate climb back to the gate and parking lot.
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