The Gold Point Trail must have fallen off of the radar for mountain bikers in the last several years. A decade ago this loop was a well-known ride into the foothills surrounding the Fall Creek watershed. Currently, however, downed trees, ferns, and salal are all making a run at erasing this trail, for better or for worse. The ride isn’t what it used to be, but if you are willing to grind it out, it is majestic all the same.
“Almost grueling” was eventually our verdict on the 2,500-foot climb up Forest Road 1835. Fortunately this is endured over almost 8 miles, making the grade difficult and long, but perhaps not fully grueling. The road hasn’t seen much maintenance in the last few years, either, and sections are literally washing away. The road follows Portland Creek for some distance before climbing more seriously through long switchback turns. Look for Elephant Rock on your right as you ascend. You’ll grab a couple of nice views on this climb, but the best views are on the descent.
You’ll top out in terms of the major climb before the junction with Forest Road 365. Take a left onto Forest Road 365 and ride down the abandoned forest road until you see the trail splitting off to the left. The salal and downed trees are at their thickest in the first mile or so, so don’t get discouraged. We were in no mood to take the fork that leads to Gold Point’s Summit, but you will see that trail splitting off to the right just a short distance from the beginning of the trail. After this there are a few small climbs on the trail, but the reward is worth it. Soon the trail will clear out a bit and you will see meadows through the trees to your left. These are excellent spots to break before continuing down the trail.
Some steep sections of trail await as you leave the ridge, and the tree-fall makes prudence a good companion. You will get a few opportunities to open up, but nothing like it could be with a little bit of trail clearing. The sections of rolling turns and steep, tight lines are a testament to what a high quality ride this could be. Even given the state of this trail, there are excellent stretches of uninterrupted single track weaving through dense woods, trail sections that make this loop a great ride.
Follow the trail down to the intersection with Forest Road 220. Turn right to return to the recommended parking for this loop. Consider returning with a saw and a shovel!