August 8, 2018 at 2:53 pm #24249
Not much to say about the trails at Anthony Lakes. The WOW factor is the granite geology in that very specific area. There are only 2 very small areas in Oregon that have this type of granite geology.
It is a very long drive to get to Baker City from Springfield. I am so glad I overcame a few challenges to ride the Elkhorn Crest trail.
I chose to drive up the road to Marble Pass as far as I could get before the road was too rugged for our Honda Element. Most of the elevation gain for the whole ride was the last 2.5 miles on that road to the Marble Pass Elkhorn Crest trailhead. It is a tough start for an old guy that needs a long warm-up. I had to push the bike a little bit. The elevation gains/losses on the actual trail could be rated towards the “easy” end of the scale. However, the loose rocky tread and dangerous exposure makes it very difficult going up or down even on a 1-3 percent grade. The elevation (7000-8000 ft.) is a factor as well. I only rode out on the trail about 10 miles. I didn’t do the steeper descent down to Anthony Lakes. The first few miles from the trailhead would be a nice gradual warm-up if that’s where you can start. After that, I had to be constantly vigilant about line choices. Even the easier sections of the trail are littered with loose small rocks that work against maintaining any momentum. There are definitely some dangerous exposed sections along the cliffs. I only walked a very small section when climbing. I was able to ride down it with no problem. I would have probably been more cautious if I was riding with clip-in pedals. I ride with platforms. I had to do a few quick foot dabs when the rocks pushed the bike off line.
As if the treacherous exposure wasn’t enough, you have to be aware of the mountain goats too. Shortly after I started my return trek, I ran into a local that had just been rammed off the trail by a mother goat protecting her kid. He had a gouge on his thigh from her horns. He said he was fortunate to have grabbed a tree to stop himself from sliding down the mountain.
If you like the exhilaration of out-back mtbing, this is a must do. It was pretty long day for only 25 miles. It was about 8 hours from the time I started to the end. I rolled along at a very moderate low gear pace. I called my wife from the Twin Lakes trail junction to come back from Baker City to pick me up. We both arrived at the starting point on the road at exactly the same time.
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