ALASKA ALL SEASON CYCLING
 
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Quartz Creek Trail
 
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This is not a trail for beginners. to say the least. Look for the U.S. Creek road sign around mile 57 Steese Hwy. Follow this road into Nome Creek ( 7 miles ) and turn right after crossing the creek. Just before you get to the campground ( 4 miles ) there is a pullout and sign at the trailhead. The view from the old tailing pile road across the creek had kept me from trying this trail for years. From there you see this trail going right up the hillside, around a 600ft. climb in maybe 3/4 of a mile. This climb has lots of loose rock and washouts, I guess this could be ridden, but not by me; hell just walking up with the bike was a good warm-up for the rest of the ride. Once on top, look down at the campground and creek. If you look on the other side of the creek and just upstream from the campground you should be able to see the first part of a faint trail that follows Nome Creek up to the head of the valley it comes out of. Itís been a couple of years since I rode this but it is a fun ride, although itís not much more than a game trail. To find the start you have to cross the creek just above the campground and bushwhack a little but itís worth it.

Back on top, the trail gets a little muddy as you go over the saddle but the view of the trail going down into Little Champion Creek will fire you up. This descent into Little Champion Creek is a blast, water and rock, water and mud, washouts, and more rocks. Youíll see the trail going up a bare knob toward the bottom. This is a short overlook trail; the real trail drops down another walk up hill (I crashed going down this, still getting used to clipless). Close to the bottom the trail splits, go right. I tried the left trail and it crosses and recrosses the creek lots and is just too rocky. The main trial crosses the creek a few times and then you start up the valley. I saw wolf and bear tracks on the trail throughout this section. This is all low gears, rocks, roots, pick a line, cross the water, get through the mud, full focus riding. I got off the bike more than Iíd like to admit but when biking backcountry by yourself it pays to be careful. The last 1/2 mile or so got pretty muddy, then the trail crosses Little Champion Creek one last time just before another walk- the-bike, muddy climb until the drop down into Champion Creek. I parked the bike at the bottom of this hill and hiked up to the top where you can see into Champion Creek valley. Randy at BLM had told me this was an impressive valley and from the little I saw Iíd have to agree. Tors to rival the ones off Chena Hot Springs Road and nice peaks all around. It was getting late and starting to rain and I knew it was time to head back. You drop a little coming back to the trail junction so I cleaned more of the trail than when coming up.. It had been a couple of years since Iíd ridden this kind of work-your-ass-off, total concentration, all your riding skills (in my case not much ) type trail. Lots of fun but it will wear you out. At the junction I walked the bike back up the hill (where I had crashed) it was so steep that I walked in the water as it made steps in places and is generally more packed than the rest of the trail. After this hill the climb back up to the saddle is fun and, with a little luck, all ridable. The drop down to the start is a blast. Back at the van I grabbed a cold beer and rode over to the creek and just about tossed the bike and myself in to clean off the mud.


(Quartz Creek Trail, White Mtns.)

This trail goes all the way back to Quartz Creek but according to the BLM it gets more and more boggy after the Little Champion Creek crossing. I hope to find out later this year just how much of it is ridable.

If you try this trail I would recommend that you wait for a dry spell, even then it will still be muddy. You will get wet although the water was never deeper than just above my knees.. Make sure your brakes are in good working order as there are some hairy descents. Donít try this unless you have some basic skills. Iím guessing I covered about 11-13 miles and it took me 5 1/2 hrs including the side trail and hiking up the last hill. Bring lots of food and water. If youíre not used to rough trails like this you will be surprised at how much work it is.. BRING BUGDOPE, the strong stuff as there are seriously hungry bugs back there. On one stretch of the trail I was concentrating on not breathing in with my mouth as I inhaled I donít know how many whitesocks. If youíre up for a bit of a challenge this is a great trail.

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