Distance: Well, it depends. 10-23 miles
Climbing: Well, it depends… 1500′-4500′
Zipped gpx file for the LONG ride
There are many ways to do this ride:
1. Shuttle Gunsight – Gumjuwac (or Gunsight-High Prarie-450-everything on the 44 Road) from Bennet Pass
2. Park at the bottom of Gumjuwac and ride Gunsight – Gumjuwac
3. Park at the bottom of Gumjuwac and ride Boulder Lake – Gunsight – Gumjuwac.
Gunsight – 6.1 miles, peak elevation 5900′
This trail, despite the starting location way-up-high, is not downhill. That’s just to forewarn you. It is, however, a beautiful cross-country ride. You’ll pedal a forested ridgeline past old-growth trees, you’ll cross talas fields that make music under your tires, and you’ll grind up and over rocky sections of trail. You’ll also bomb down smooth, flowy singletrack, and you’ll stop for amazing views of Mt. Hood.
Don’t be fooled when the trail hits a dirt road for the first time. Follow it a few hundred feet, and pick up the trail on the left. The second time the trail hits the road (after a switchbacked descent), you’ll be at the top of Gumjuwac (no signs). You can follow the road to High Prairie, if you like.
Directions:To get to the trailhead from Bennett Pass, follow the dirt road – on your bike, not in your car – out the back of the parking lot approximately 3.5 miles. The trailhead is on the left at an intersection with another dirt road, and just before an open rocky field.
From the bottom of Gumjuwac, pedal to Pocket Creek, and follow the paved single-lane road through the woods. Follow the signs to Bennett Pass (the road becomes gravel). After a sharp right turn (at a beautiful viewpoint), the road turns into a death climb. Don’t do this on a hot and sunny day. At the top of the death climb, the road levels out, giving you a stellar view of Mt. Hood. Take the 30′ singletrack off this flat area to Bennett Pass Road (dirt), and follow the road up to the Gunsight Trailhead, approximately a mile.
Gumjuwac – 2.4 miles
Well. Some people love this trail. I feel rather… meh… about it. It’s 2.4 miles of descending through old-growth forest. But… the trail is built on really steep terrain, and the switchbacks are tight, tight enough that you’re probably going to get off your bike on some. Even so, if you like going down and down and down, you’ll have a lovely time on this trail. It’s, for the most part, smooth and mellow and easy, with the exception of one 30′ rocky section and a few roots scattered about the trail. Enjoy. No, you can’t climb this. Well, maybe Gato or Viggers could, but you can’t.
Boulder Lake – Approximately 7 miles
Do you like swimming? In a warm mountain lake? Naked? Actually, this lake is pretty popular with the family crowd, so nudity may not be the best choice. Anyway, this is a worthy addition to the Gunsight/Gumjuwac ride.
Instead of taking the Gunsight trail from Bennett Pass Road, go straight on the dirt road through the boulder field. Climb for 1/2 mile or so, and then descend for a mile or so down a rocky road. Take the left road into Bonnie Meadows Campground. Follow the 463 trail a couple miles to Boulder Lake. This is one of my favorite descents: it has just enough rocks, roots, and talas to make it interesting, but it’s not overly technical.
At the bottom, you’ll find Boulder Lake. Warm Boulder Lake, if you’re there mid-July or later in an average snow year. Go for a swim. Don’t mind the deep silt.
After you swim, get back on your bike and follow 463A to Little Boulder Lake. At the end of the trail, take a right on the road. Follow it uphill for about a mile. At a sharp right turn, the 473 trail crosses the road. Go right. The trail winds uphill at a continuous grade through beargrass meadows and big old trees. It’s lovely, if a bit of a grind. After you top out, drop down to Bonnie Meadows, and take a right, following the sign back to the campground. Retrace your route to the Gunsight Trailhead.
An alternate route back to Bonnie Meadows Campground adds about 1.5 miles to your ride. I prefer this route, although the trail is rougher and less traveled. Instead of turning right on the 473, go left. Follow the trail downhill for a mile or so downhill, around a right switchback, and then over a couple of road crossings. The trail returns you to Bonnie Meadows Campground through a mostly-forested, mostly gentle climb. You’ll get better views on the first option, but you’ll probably have more fun on option two. =)
Directions: Drive south on Highway 35 out of Hood River about 30 miles. Pass the 44 Road and Little John Snowpark and continue through the straight stretch of road known as Weird Weather Flats by the locals. The road will go downhill and cross the East Fork of the Hood (no sign). The bottom of Gumjuwac is on the left, just before the bridge. Park in the “chain-up area” on the right. You’re ready to start. If you’re shuttling, continue driving up to Bennett Pass – same exit as Mt. Hood Meadows. Park at Bennett Pass snowpark.
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