This alpine loop ride meanders through pine forest past a never-ending procession of high mountain lakes. The trailhead is on Crescent Lake near Spring Campground. The high lakes on this ride are infested with mosquitos until late summer. The cool weather and lack of crowds make fall the best time to enjoy this area.
From Crescent Lake, the route ascends a four-wheel drive road to Summit Lake, which also has a campground and is a popular starting point for a hike up Diamond Peak. The dirt climb is a welcome change from the typical gravel grind that accompanies so many cascade mountain bike rides.
Summit Lake Trail marks the beginning of 11 miles of singletrack that will bring you back to the car. This trail climbs gently past many small lakes to a junction with Windy Lake Trail. Turn south here for a 2-mile out and back jaunt to South Windy Lake. The Windy Lakes are much larger than the small lakes on Summit Lake Trail. They sit just east of the divide between the Middle Fork of the Willamette River and Deschutes River drainages. Windy Pass is a much more demanding and scenic ride on the west side of this divide for those who are spending a few days in the area.
Windy Pass Trail makes a beeline back down to the trailhead, and is much more technical than Summit Lake Trail. Long twisty root drops and some erosion channels make for a challenging technical downhill, although the grade never gets too steep.
In spite of the lack of mountain views, the numerous charming alpine lakes, fun singletrack, and stimulating downhill make this high cascade loop a great ride.