Saturday, August 24, 2013 – Mountain Biking
This was our second time riding the Crystal Mountain Trail #1163, to the top of the Crystal Mountain ski resort.
The first time we rode there was July 31, 2010. That was one of those picture-perfect days! The views of Mt Rainier are not to be missed!
Despite having a summer strung together with days and days of clear skies, the weather on this particular Saturday was not so cooperative. It was raining when we left the house. At the trailhead it was dry, but cloudy. We saw initial glimmers of blue sky as we climbed the forest, but by the time we arrived at the top, the fog was thick! And, Brrrr!!– it was not warm! Our fingers got cold on the descent.
We drive here via Enumclaw, WA and Hwy 410 (Chinook Pass Hwy), which follows the White River. Turn off Hwy 410 at Rd #7190 (Crystal Mountain Blvd) and find the trailhead for Crystal Mountain Trail #1163 adjacent to Sand Flat Horse Camp. It is located about 2 miles short of the the ski resort itself.
This trip is a relatively short, “out-and-back” ride for us. We turn around at the top of the Mt Rainier Gondola/Summit House. Note that Trail #1163 does continue down from that highpoint (6872 ft) to intersect with other trails.
In a nutshell, this trail simply goes up and up and up for about 3000 ft. Consider this climb “interval training” because you won’t stay in your Zone 2. The tread is basically smooth, with some sections of jagged rocks (not too many) and some sandy patches. It’s quite rideable throughout. The descent is screamin’ fast!
CLIMBING THE FOREST–> Switchbacks through trees and open slide paths of huckleberry bushes.
CLIMBING CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN RIDGE–> At times, the trail hugs a steep sidehill. It’s not too “airy,” but you do need to focus in couple places. The trail up the ridge also traverses a wide wildflower meadow.
From the ridge, the BIG view is Mt Rainier. The White River is quite impressive as well.
ENTERING THE CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN SKI AREA–> Singletrack trail is replaced by a rocky road on the final uphill traverse to the top of the Mt Rainier Gondola and Summit House.
THE TOP–> Views of fog!
Here is a link to the Crystal Mountain Summer Map. Note that this map calls the north section of the Crystal Mountain Trail #1163, “Northway Trail.”
TRIP STATS: (Using the Bike Tracks App for iPhone)
- Total Distance = 11.6 miles
- Total Vertical = 5991 ft (climb 3053 ft, descend 2938 ft)
- Elevation = 6849 ft highest, 3818 ft lowest
- Time = 3 hrs, 39 min (start 11:10 AM, finish 2:46 PM)
FOOD CONSUMED ON TRAIL:
- Water + 1 SaltStick
- We didn’t even eat one huckleberry although the bushes were packed!