January 12, 2012

New Years Day Ride

A few years ago the Big Rock/Rocks of Sharon area was made a conservation area, abutting the Iler Creek conservation area.  I'm not up on all the details, but there is supposed to be access to the area via Steven's Creek Rd, off Palouse Highway.  I tried finding the access point a couple years ago and realized that it wasn't quite ready.  A log was pulled across the last part of the road to the parking area on the south side of the mountain and I knew that while some trail work had been undertaken by the Mountaineers, the approaches were still basically erosion ruts.  

We've hiked Iler Creek several times and have enjoyed the reward of the view of the Palouse at the top, but from where we live you have to drive all the way around Tower Mountain to access the trail, which is frustrating when you look at a map and see how close we are to the west and south approaches.

I've long wanted to ride up Steven's Creek Rd, bypass the log barrier, and find a rideable trail to the top.  On New Years afternoon, perhaps a little too late in the afternoon, I decided it was time.  Rather than head to Steven's Creek, however, I thought I'd save a little time and trespass up Tower Mountain Rd.  I still feel guilty about ignoring the sign plastered all over the road, but I did it.  And in a way, karma got me.

The route
 I made it to the top just as the sun was setting.  Exploring a new area in the dark didn't seem like a great idea and I thought about just bombing back down the road I came up, but then I'd have to trespass again.  So with the hubris of the new year I found my way east along the ridge to Big Rock and beyond, picked a promising trail, and pointed my wheel down hill.

And it was nearly straight down, with a deeply cut erosion rut in the middle.  My knuckles got tired, my brake pads were thin, and I was getting cold.  I almost went over the handle bars more than once or twice.  But I eventually made it down to the parking area, turned on my lights, and headed home.  Even if not entirely successful, it was a good little adventure to get the year started off right.  And perhaps next time I'll exit out the Iler Creek trail and find my way back via Dishman-Mica.  Hmmm.


  1. Great looking ride. I'm down for the over-the-hill ride if you end up going not-on-a-whim.