Center Spine … Starting My Second Loop on White Ridge Trails
As I rode down the peak there must have been ten trails leading off in different directions. I knew the Center Spine Trail had to go on the north flank of the peak but I still had trouble! Once started down I soon found I was too far west. My second try was a success. After a hundred feet I spotted the sign. Just past the sign was when the spine started to narrow and riding got more interesting.
I don’t think I have biked a 3 foot wide trail which dropped abruptly 300 feet on one side and 50 feet on the other. I remember something similar on the Thunder Mountain Trail (Brien Head, Utah) but the drop offs were not as severe.
Finding the correct way down was a challenge. I rode up onto a large knob that offered wide open views to the bottom of the canyon. It looked like about half of the tracks were going off to the west, and I could see a real clear trail down below.
I looked back up and took a photo of where I had just biked.
But I could also see several tracks passing through a skinny path between ledges.
Over the Drop
I figured the Center Spine Trail ran off to the west. I followed the tracks in that direction but soon found the trail ended. So I returned and passed down the skinny path through the rocks.
I rode down to where the trail appeared to vanish off the cliff.
When I looked over the edge I knew I had found the way. I had to lower my bike down a steep rock (much like the one I had to climb up on the Dragon’s Back).
Then the riding was good, steep and loose, but a good challenge … especially the end.
The last 100 feet was kind of treacherous. Fifty feet sliding down through a loose red powder. Then an abrupt right turn followed by fifty more feet of that same dust. I hung all my weight over my rear tire and managed to get stopped for the abrupt turn, although I found I could not abide by the trail rules. Please … DON’T SKID. About halfway down the second stage I just let go of the brakes and held on as my momentum carried me halfway across the canyon floor.
When I finally stopped I turned and took a photo of the last one hundred feet.
Getting Out of the Canyon
After coming down the Center Spine I just wanted to get back to camp to do some kayaking with my brother George. I saw a well-traveled trail heading to the south along the western side of Center Spine. I thought I might find a way out of the canyon which would put me right at the trailhead.
Wrong again. I followed that well-traveled trail to the base of the cliffs, and no more. As I turned around I said to myself, “Now I know why the trail looks so well-traveled. Everyone that rides up here rides back down again!”
So, I had to ride north to escape the canyon. A nice, gradually climbing trail took me back to the bright white doubletrack trail I had been on earlier … the ones above the springs. While exiting the canyon I took one last photo of Center Spine.
Completing the Loop
I decided to just do a counterclockwise loop on the trails I had not used on the way up from Hell’s Hole. I was at the 202 sign in less than five minutes. Back to the river at the base of the Dragon’s Head in ten.
After I rounded the White Ridge I headed up the trail which quickly turned into a doubletrack. It ran along the west side and was parallel to the Dragon’s Back. I knew this track would be flat and most likely would also be sandy since it lay in the bottom of a wash. I think I was fortunate we had had some rain a few days previous. Wet sand provides a nice trail base for bikers.
On the sandy trail I came across an old structure, a broken windmill with water tank, and some very unusual geology.
All along the west side of the White Ridge I saw huge pieces of layered earth turned on edge. From a distance the red layers looked velvety, in contrast to the others … almost like the frosting in a layer cake.
After riding about three-and-a-half miles up the wash I hit Gasco Road which hit Cabezon Road less than a mile later. Once on Cabezon Road I quickly cruised back into the White Ridge Trailhead parking lot.
During most visits I take many more photos than I can place on a page. To view every image I captured … 148 photos in all, please visit my Photo Gallery Site.
The following link can give you all the stats for this ride … just click on the box below.
Would you like to try this ride? You can copy my GPX file from the Strava Link below.