It’s November and the Pacific Northwest is getting pounded with cold weather. We’re in route to the Falls Creek trail head located just out of Carson, Washington in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Like most of the trips I’ve been on with this crew I don’t really know what to expect. What I do know is that I’ll be in for an incredible day on the Mountain Bike. No questions asked. If the wife is ok with it I am in. It’s cold out and we’re all trying to figure out what to wear. I am told the first half of the ride is a climb so it’s all just a shot in the dark. The trail head drops us into the forest and soon enough we’re climbing. The group fans out. We all climb at our own pace. I constantly have to remind myself to take in the experience and not get lost in the pain of climbing. The climb kicks up hard. We fight to keep our front wheel on the ground.
The climb gives way to the sound of the Falls Creek water fall. The trail is light dusted in snow. We take a moment for the view. I feel lucky to be here.
The trail continues to roll through the forest and as we gain elevation the snow begins to thicken. A couple miles from the top we decide it’s best to turn around. Don’t worry this ride was meant to be an out and back. On the snow covered trail we prepare for our descent. I put on a fresh wool jersey and gloves. Nothing lifts the spirits like dry gear.
"The gradual grade of this 9 mile trail slowly climbs away from Falls Creek and crosses 2 creeks before reaching the waterfall in approximately 2.5 miles. Falls Creek surges over rocks and timber cascading from a height of 100 feet, creating a gentle mist below. Approximately 3 miles from the trailhead a large clear pool about 50 feet wide and 10 feet deep, provides a lovely picnic spot. Elk, beaver and otter await the forest visitor.The trail continues on for 6.5 miles, crossing several forest roads, and terminates at Falls Creek Horse Camp on Forest Road 65.This is a popular mountain biking trail." - USDA Forest Service
"Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a National Forest located in southern Washington, USA, managed by the United States Forest Service. With an area of 1.32 million acres (5300 km2), it extends 116 km along the western slopes of Cascade Range from Mount Rainier National Park to the Columbia River. The forest straddles the crest of the South Cascades of Washington State, spread out over broad, old growth forests, high mountain meadows, several glaciers, and numerous volcanic peaks. The forest's highest point is at 12,276 ft. at the top of Mount Adams, the second tallest volcano in the state after Rainier. It includes the 110,000-acre (450 km2) Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, established by Congress in 1982.” - Wiki