Monday, May 26, 2014

Elm Creek Mountain Biking

Today our family explored Elm Creek mountain and trail biking. The street address 1827 W Hayden Lake Rd, Champlin, MN will take you close to the mountain / trail biking parking lot located at 45.18106, -93.415892 (Technically it’s on East Hayden Lake Road, which turns into Goose Lake Road. Roads are confusing in this area; Goose Lake is a limited access road [1].)

You enter the County Park from West Hayden Lake Road (easy to miss small county park sign), travel down “East Hayden Lake Road” and find parking for both the Mountain Biking trails and for the paved trails nearby. There used to be very limited parking here but the paved lot has been greatly expanded by packed dirty and grass parking. Even so on nice days it’s full.

I recommend studying both the Elm Creek Mountain Biking (single track) trail map and the summer map before setting out. You can get a pretty good idea of the area from the Google Earth map:

Screen Shot 2014 05 26 at 4 45 22 PM

There’s a nice paved trail (I’ve inline skated it) around 2/3 of the Lemans Lake area, the narrow roadway on the Left side is Goose Lake Road — basically closed to all but very limited local traffic.

The trailhead is directly across Goose Lake road. From there you can go two ways. To access The “Easy Trail” go left. After a short distance there’s a right branch to “Loop A” — which was closed when we visited (rain damage?). Continue straight, crossing over the paved path, to do Loop B. The official map describes the Easy Trail as … “… suitable for adaptive 3 or 4-wheeled mountain bikes … averages 4 feet in width … trail grades are gentle…”.

Riiiggghhht. There’s no way anybody is going to power a “4 wheel” bike over that loop. The non-grass part of the trail was about 1 foot, though it’s true bordering trees were at least 3 feet apart. We found the Easy Loop was just right for our 12 yo (cautious) daughter — and unlike Lebanon Hills there were no crazed racers on the beginner trail (they go a different way, though if Loop A had been open I think we’d have seen more serious rider traffic).

In late May the trail was just a bit buggy — but this is wetlands and this trail is low. I think Loop B will be very buggy in June/July — you would NOT want to stop. Loop A may have a bit more elevation.

Our family did Loop B then took the paved trail around the Lehman Lake area traveling clockwise, returning via the semi-closed Goose Lake road. The trails and paved loop made a nice early season outing for my daughter, wife and #2 son. They returned via Goose Lake Road.

Screen Shot 2014 05 26 at 5 04 30 PM

Screen Shot 2014 05 26 at 5 10 40 PM

 #1 son and I continued on to the regular single track trails (he split off first). If you study the official mountain biking map you’ll see 3 entrances (square bike icon). #1 son entered off the southern side of the paved loop. I think the map is out of date, because the entrance I used is only 200-300 feet down Goose Lake Road. From the parking lot trailhead you turn right, go about 200 feet along Goose Lake Road, and take a narrow but well marked and gated entrance onto the trail system.

From the official map this looks like a mess of choices —- but it didn’t feel that way. There are only a few branches, just a bit beyond the trail markers numbered 23, 37, 49 and 52. Otherwise you just pedal. On the map there are “easy”, intermediate and “advanced” loops. Maybe I missed the “advanced” — but otherwise everything I did felt intermediate to advanced. There were frequent small splits, in general one split would have a jump and the other didn’t (suspension or skill needed for the jumps - I had neither). It was a perfect trail for me and the #1 son, but definitely not for the rest of the family.

We didn’t have our dog with us on this outing. I can see taking her on Loop B on leash, but even that would be tricky (and might not be legal). Dogs can run or trailer on the paved loops. In future outings I can see part of the family doing a longer paved trail loop while #1 and I do more single track. 

- fn -

[1] Goose Lake seems to exist to provide access to some residential areas within the County Park. Park of it is closed by gates that I think residents can open. Other parts are open, but only residents would use them. So Goose Lake Road is a very safe and quiet road.  

Seen also:

No comments: