Mountain Biking Grand Ridge, Issaquah

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On a spectacular fall day Mongo (aka Bruce Brown) and I headed out to Duthie Hill and Grand Ridge for some late-season light-duty cross-country riding. The sun sparkled, the temps were mild and the trails rocked. It’s all supposed to go sixes and sevens by this weekend so we counted our blessings.

Mongo is the Guru of Galbraith — the inspiration behind — and had wanted to see Duthie’s progress. We at BikeIntelligencer tend to think of Duthie as a miniature Galbraith, offering both cross-country fare and tasty freeride bits. So we were charged to hear Mongo’s enthusiasm for what’s coming together at Duthie.

Plenty of wood for the bog ...

There were lots of kids out, including moms with tots. What amazed us was the continued blitz of progress at Duthie. Admittedly we hadn’t been there for awhile — out riding the high country of Idaho and eastern Washington — but still. New structures. New lines. Jumps. Features. And all the time keeping the trails tamped, bermed and buttery smooth. Ryan’s Eternal Flow remains closed, but everything else was popping.

It’s quite a testament to the public-private partnership of King County and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. And there’s more to come. We saw a lot of activity and dirt in motion.

After touring Duthie we headed over to Grand Ridge to stretch our legs a bit. Talk about potential — Mongo was jabbering on and on about how much territory the ridge has to offer. With terrain like that, you could spray the hillside with trails and have some great loops to boot. We can’t wait.

... and plenty of rubble.

We cruised down to the legendary Bog, only to find piles of rubble and skinned timber stacked right at the base of the slope. Obviously the trail custodians are poised to finally do something about the ugliest section of trail this side of Wales. The Bog itself is actually drier than I’ve ever seen it. It’s still not really rideable — too much gooey stuff, and you can’t keep enough momentum to stay on the pedals — but you can at least hoof it through the entire way.

We scampered across, then began the long climb to the ridge line. Eventually we came to the Canyon Creek Bridge — which by coincidence will be dedicated today in an official King County Parks-Washington Trails Association event. We put together a crude iPhone video and commentary in observance of the dedication, scheduled to begin at noon.

From there it was up, up, up, the trail in tacky, prime condition. As many times as we’ve done Grand Ridge, it never seems ordinary. The fall colors, more open skies (due to dropped leaves from deciduous trees) and trail care have put Grand Ridge in a rare zone. The weekend rains may jeopardize it all, but one of Grand Ridge’s distinct virtues is its fast recovery time from moisture.

All in all, a great interlude for us and wondrous intro for Mongo to the special joys of Issaquah-area mountain biking. The season may be drawing to a close, but this stuff should remain open and rideable through much of the winter. Enjoy!


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