[vc_row no_margin=”true” padding_top=”0px” padding_bottom=”0px” border=”none”][vc_column width=”1/1″][text_output]Our day started early at the Stottlemeyer Trailhead on the southern side of the Port Gamble Trail System. We geared up and after a few circles around the gravel parking lot, we were faced with the first of many similar decisions that would pop up all day — should we do it the easy way (turn left and start up the Red, un-technical service roads) or should we do it the hard way (turn right and ride up the Blue intermediate trail).
In a frenzy of Coffee-induced optimism, not unlike that of the early explorers of these great lands, we turned right onto the “Hyper-Space” intermediate trail.
We soon learned that the designers of this trail system cut a pretty wide swath with the term “intermediate”. To us, a couple of casual weekend bikers, the “Hyper-Space” trail and the “Lite Speed” (blue) trail that followed it were…quite pleasant. They were very well maintained and the designers did a great job of carving relatively straight paths through the hillside. The air was cool and we had just broken the first sweat…We felt good.
Armed with a slightly misplaced optimism in our ability to conquer any trail that came our way, we hopped on the Red Service Road heading east, in search of some heartier trails that could satiate this newfound confidence. Why fool around with these Blue and Green (easy) trails when we can really prove ourselves to the Mountain Bike Gods (both old and new) by taking down the Black (most difficult) trails? We set our sights on the “Mordor” trail by way of the “Upper and Lower Mirkwood” trail (Tolkien nerds rejoice!).
After a long and life-affirming downhill portion on the 1800 service road, we climbed back up and met the southern end of the “Upper Mirkwood” trail. Another breezy blue, right? Wrong. This trail and its companion “Lower Mirkwood” were technical in the best sense of the word — tight turns, minor jumps, and plenty of opportunites to test our ability to navigate the root, rock, and log systems of Port Gamble. Some folks are all about going fast and free but, for my money, I love these types of technical trails in which the path is laid out in front of you like a maze and your job is to get out without losing too much skin.
The “Mordor” trail, although it presented similarly technical problems, had a much steeper incline and as a result really took the wind out of us. Tired and satisfied with the work we’d put in so far, we decided to map out an easier end to our day. We hopped on one of the Red service roads that bisect all of the single-track trails and headed north with the plan of taking the long way home, following this green-heavy route:
“Twisted Sister” trail (green) > “Maggie Rocks” (blue) > “Alders” (green) > “Clearcut Trails” (green) > “Valley Trail” (green) > “Ridge Trail” (green) > Service Road > Stottlemeyer Trailhead
Hitting all of these green trails one after another was an absolute blast! Dipping in and out of the forest, dodging the highly invasive Scotch Broom, and even navigating the occasional technical section, we couldn’t be happier. This route was the perfect way to end a perfect day of biking.
We got back to the car, cracked a few post-ride cold ones, lazily cleaned the yellow remnants of Scotch Broom off of ourselves, and chatted about how lucky we are to have such a vast and diverse trail system in our little corner of the country…Next trip we’ll definitely be hitting up the northern section of the trails, which we barely touched on this outing.
A few tips:
- If you’ve never been on this trail system, take a map, and whenever you see a posted map (they’re at most major trail junctions), get your bearings straight. Several times we got caught up in the ride, neglected our maps, and ended up missing some of the trails that we meant to go on.
- If you know how to read contour lines on the map, think about planning out a path for yourself that fits your physical abilities.
- Go in the morning. We didn’t see many folks out there but when we left the afternoon crowds were really starting to roll in.
- If you suffer from seasonal allergies, make sure to dose up on your favorite anti-histamine before hitting these lush trails.
- DOWNLOAD TRAIL MAP
- MTB Project – Maps, descriptions & details.
- KitsapMountainBiking.com – Rides, maps & more
- North Kitsap Trails Association
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