This ride is a study in contrasts. The long gravel road to the upper trailhead climbs steeply at first before dropping over the ridge and gently traversing high on the northern slope of the Larison Creek drainage. The south facing patchwork of old-growth and second-growth forest is punctuated by numerous rock outcroppings that provide a precarious perch for a few stands of madrone. There are great vistas back towards Hills Creek Reservoir as well as a few stunning views of Diamond Peak. Toward the end, the trail crosses the upper reaches of Larison Creek and climbs steeply again to the trailhead.
From here, the trail looses half of the total elevation gained in under 2 miles, dropping steeply at first before becoming a precipitous goat track that is full of switchbacks for the last half mile. The small creek at the bottom exists in a separate realm from the airy heights of the road. The deeply shaded old-growth closes in overhead, blocking out all thoughts of the world above. The trail demands your full attention as it winds for miles through a thick green carpet of feathery moss. The siren call of the smooth, fast sections lead inevitably to jagged, rocky creek crossings and steep rooted drops. Save some energy for this section, as there are also many short, steep, technical climbs. Finally, the difficulty eases somewhat as the trail traces the shore of Hills Creek Reservoir for the last mile or so to the bottom trailhead. Watch out for hikers along this section.
While this trail is often ridden as a there-and-back (without the final steep section to the upper trailhead), the views and stunning forest scenery make the gravel road climb well worth the effort, providing a topographical overview of the Larison Creek drainage that shouldn't be missed.