Gifford Pinchot Gravel Recon
We’re calling this a “recon” because you’ll be helping us dial in our routes for future trips. Comova Cycling will handle all of the logistics so you can focus on the riding. You’ll ride incredible gravel routes by day then share meals and spend each night at the River Front Lodge in Trout Lake, WA.
Trout Lake’s position in the heart of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest’s seemingly limitless gravel options means daily route options can range from 25 mile spins to all-day adventures with limited time spent shuttling to ride starts. As a recon trip, we’ll be riding without vehicle support. Riders should be able to be self-sufficient over non-technical but challenging terrain. Comova’s founder, Steve, will provide daily route briefings and guide each day’s route to maximize everyone’s fun and safety.
Return to base each day
You’ll have your choice of private or shared room at Riverfront Lodge. The Lodge sits right on the White Salmon River and features 3 decks with river views. Among its 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms are a mother-in-law suite and master bedroom suite. The Lodge offers immediate access to the Gifford Pinchot’s extensive system of forest roads.
Breakfasts will include hot and cold cereal, fruit, bread and protein options. Lunches will be real food ride snacks that you’ll carry with you to eat on the trail. Diverse dinner menus will be constructed in advance and then we will collaborate each night in preparing the evening’s meal.
No road bikes allowed! Seriously, you’ll be riding a lot of gravel of various types and the wider the tires you run the more comfort and confidence you’ll have. 40mm tires are about as narrow as you’d want to go. Let us know if you are in need of a bike.
We will ride genty on the ancestral lands of the fourteen Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation who have lived and continue to live on these land, and who are the original caretakers of this land. We are grateful to be able to pass through these traditional lands, and give thanks to the legacy of the original people, their lives, and their descendants while also acknowledging the histories of land theft, violence, erasure and oppression of Indigenous communities. We support indigenous people’s ongoing struggles for sovereignty, equity, justice, healing, and the protection of land resources.
Aim to arrive in Trout Lake by 5pm if you’d like to join the arrival day ride. We’ll circle the Trout Lake valley floor to keep the climbing to a minimum on our first day. Dinner will be served at 7pm followed by a meeting to discuss logistics for the trip. The meeting will conclude with a pre-ride briefing for the next day’s ride. Get some rest…the adventure starts tomorrow!–well maintained smooth gravel road, overgrown and washed out old forest roads, and paved forest roads.
Today’s route adds in some climbing–about 4,400′ of it!. But the gradients are modest, mostly in the 4-5% range. Our first climb will take us into the Monte Cristo Range where we’ll descend to the Little White Salmon River before the second big climb of 9 miles at 5%. Then it’s all downhill back to Trout Lake for a solid meal and good sleep.
Today is about continuing to build towards the two marquee routes on Days 4 and 5. While a longer option is available, we’ll encourage most riders to take the shorter option. In both cases you’ll be accessing yet another part of the vast Gifford Pinchot National Forest with more of the dense forests, gradual clibs, and breakout views that are now familiar.
All of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest offers up stellar gravel riding. But we’re saving the best for last. Today’s route circumnavigates the Indian Heaven Wilderness, one of seven designated wilderness areas within the National Forest. Designated wilderness areas are off limits to bicycles, but as we skirt the edge of the Indian Heaven Wilderness it’s easy to appreciate what makes it special. Its rocky ridge lines and countless lakes give it a wilder vibe than the mere forests we’ve been riding through. You’ll cross the PCT twice while circling the distinctive peaks of Indian Heaven. The route also skirts along many meadows and lakes–including the picturesque Forlorn Lakes–on its way back to the start.
NF-68 probably means nothing to you. But it will be among the many memories you take away from riding in the Gifford Pinchot. Portland-based adventure cycling group Our Mother the Mountain describes NF-68 like this: “The gradients are gentle, the surface is what some folks refer to as ‘luxury gravel’ and the breakout views are classic Gifford. We highly recommend putting this one in the mix.” NF-68 eventually connects to NF-6801. If NF-68 is luxury gravel, NF-6801 is sort of ‘post-apocalypse gravel.’ It’s an abandoned forest road so the gradients are kind. But NF-6801 makes the ride a true adventure as several washouts mean a bit of hike-a-bike is involved. The day will end with a celebratory dinner back at the Lodge for our final night.
We’ll need to check out by 10am but anyone with any gas left in the tank is welcome to roll out at 7am for a 20-30 miler. There are single track options nearby if you like pushing the limits of your gravel bike. Or we will recommend a valley floor loop where you can soak in the views of Mt. Adams one last time. Then we will say our goodbyes until the next gravel adventure!
*This is a sample itinerary. With multiple route options each day we will make final determinations about each day’s routes the night before based on weather, rider input, road/trail conditions, and other factors.
Below is an example of this is the marquee route on our Gifford Pinchot Gravel Gala trip. Contact us if you would like to see all of the routes on Ride with GPS.
The route below gets you deep into the “Giff” while still being able to finish the day back at the lodge for a warm meal and comfortable bed.
The heart of the route is NF-68, known for its ‘luxury gravel,’ which crosses and then parallels the Pacific Crest Trail. Soon you descend from the ridge towards Panther Creek where the route connects to NF-6801. If NF-68 is luxury gravel, NF-6801 is sort of ‘post-apocalypse gravel.’ The abandoned forest road makes the ride a true adventure as several washouts mean a bit of hike-a-bike is involved.
NF-6801 eventually returns to what feels like civilization, also known as NF-60 (or Carson-Guler Rd.), where you’ll enjoy more luxury gravel before a return to pavement for the gentle downhill back to the start.