Scenery and sweet single-track make the Lower Big Quilcene Trail #833 a great ride for anyone, but this 6.2-mile (each way) trail presents a special challenge for adventurous, single-track-tested beginners looking for more. It's not for true beginners, but if you have some experience in the saddle and on the trails, this is the place to jump up to the next level of mountain biking.
It's a great trail for such a leap: The scenery is gorgeous riverside and picture-postcard 400-year-old stands of Douglas fir, as well as hemlock and scattered cedar. Much of the hard-pack single-track is baby-bottom smooth but with a few challenges, like water crossings and loose rocks, to negotiate. The 1,420 feet of elevation gain comes gradually, punctuated with anaerobic bursts.
While this may be the trail to expand your riding horizons, you can still hold on to that directional sense of security that a beginner might need: With no junctions between the lower and upper trailhead, chances of getting lost are virtually nil.
Soon-to-be-intermediates will build initial confidence with a smooth, gradual descent at the start, while the Big Quilcene River is only to be heard from below. The trail rolls gently as it joins the river at 2.4 miles. The short, steep climbs come later in the trail, after you're warmed up and ready.
Finding the trail: The Quilcene Ranger District Office is 0.7 mile south of the town of Quilcene on US 101. Heading 1 mile south of the office, take Penny Creek Road to the right at the 1 o'clock position. When the pavement ends in about a mile, veer left on Big Quilcene River Road (FS 27). In 3.2 miles, go right to stay on narrow FS 27 as FS 2740 continues straight. In another 0.4 mile, turn left on FS 2700-080, just before FS 27 curves up and to the left. Travel 0.3 mile to the trailhead parking at the end of the road.
Notes on the trail: At 2.4 miles up the trail, cross the bridge over the river. The Big Quilcene River is now on your right as Townsend Creek joins it from the north. In 0.1 mile, just after Bark Shanty Camp, cross back to the other side of the river. Pass a logged area at 4.1 miles. About a mile after that, at a 10-foot-wide creek crossing, an access trail back to the left at 7 o'clock brings you riverside. The trail ends onto FS 2750 just after a short but potentially treacherous creek crossing. I walked it, thank you very much. On the other side of the road the trail continues into the Buckhorn Wilderness, where bikes are not allowed. But 50 feet to the right of the trailhead, a 1-minute walk to Ten Mile Shelter provides a nice snack stop and turnaround point.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication