This loop ride encompasses part of the Waldo Lake Trail as well as the entirety of Betty Lake, The Twins, and Charleton Lake Trails. It is a strenuous endeavor, with over 2,400-feet of climbing, most of it in the 3-mile slog up the southern slope of The Twins, a double peaked promontory that lies astride the crest of the Cascades. Nearly the entire loop is on singeltrack, with less than a mile on paved road. The ride can be done in either direction, but doing it counter clockwise puts you at Charleton Lake near the end, when a quick dip is most appreciated. The big descent is a bit longer this direction as well.
The section of Waldo Lake Trail from North Waldo Campground to Betty Lake Trail is fast and fun, with a slight climb and descent. The lake is not visible, and the pine forest is all encompassing. Betty Lake Trail Climbs slightly before passing picturesque Betty Lake and descending to Waldo Lake Road. Less than a mile north on this paved road brings you to the trailhead for The Twins Trail, which climbs relentlessly before circling to the east below the summits. There is a spur to the top, but it is too steep to ride. If you want to check out the stunning view from the summit, stash your bike and hoof it on foot.
From the high point of the ride on the east side of the twins, walk off the trail a hundred feet to the east for a great view of Three Sisters and Mount Jefferson to the north. The next 4 miles down to Charleton Lake Trail is fast, fun, and sometimes rough. A map is helpful here to navigate the numerous trail junctions.
Charleton Lake Trail has a couple of steep, gnarly sections, but is mostly smooth and flat until you pass the lake and cross a gravel road. Finally, the last downhill finishes off the ride with some excellent smooth, high-speed singletrack back to the Waldo Lake Trail just a quarter mile from the start of the loop.
Most visitors to Waldo Lake ride the Waldo Lake Trail, a 20 mile circumnavigation of Waldo Lake. Those that are looking for more lofty views and some real downhill should also consider matching themselves against The Twins.