It’s been almost a year since I’ve ridden the Cold Creek Trail from top to bottom, but with buds from out of town visiting to sample riding highlights of the Portland area, it was time to take them to the goods. On a previous trip we showcased the T2Town Trail and our destination worthy Sandy Ridge Trail System. This time though, we headed to Yacolt Burn State Forest.
The air quality was lousy thanks to active wildfires, so pedaling to the top of the mountain was not the best plan. Fortunately Cold Creek is also the area’s premiere shuttle and gravity destination, and bringing two vehicles, we parked one at the bottom and piled bikes and riders into the van for the drive to the upper staging area.
After we unloaded the van at the upper parking lot, we began the ascent up Road L1510 to the cell towers. The logging road is always a bit of a grind but with recent drive train upgrades it was surprisingly chill.
Dropping into the trail trail to the left, the fun began. It’s been a while since I’ve done the full length of the trail and I’d have to say the top sections are my favorite bits.
Between the ripping loamy turns, the surreal grassy meadow and the shale field, the Cold Creek Trail packs a wide range of terrain into an all too brief descent.
The gravity fed descents at Cold Creek and Thrillium are known to eat trail bikes, tires and components. Because of this, riders in the area often have their bikes spec’d out with components that value durability and performance over light weight. In the last year I’ve made a number of component swaps on my Santa Cruz Nomad that include wider Spank rims and fresh Minion treads as well as a taller FSA rise bar as well as a coil Fox rear shock. Although the pace up is slower, it’s amazing how fun ripping through the terrain is these days. It’s a significant departure from how my bikes were setup in the Bay Area.
In addition to the emphasis on more durable components, I often swap SPDs for flat pedals on the Nomad and it definitely ups the fun factor. Flats or Platforms? We ride both, and come with us. The choice depends on the day’s plan and the weather.
At just under five miles, the Cold Creek descent is a bit short, so we followed it up with two more runs down the DH trail Thrillium, making for a sweet day of riding bikes. It’s rare anyone wants to stop to take a picture, so thanks to the gang for letting me document their epic MTB Vacation.
Check out the Cold Creek trail on MTB Project for directions and other 411.