Under-employed Ride South Coldwater

I tried to get out of it.

When I talked with Paul on Sunday at the bike park, his knee was hurting and he was fatigued from riding Smith Creek with Mel on Saturday. I got the impression that he might want to cancel our ride on the 230A Trail at South Coldwater.

No such luck.

Paul, Bob Horness, Kelley Hinkle and I were at the trailhead at 7:15 on a beautiful Monday. No clouds but not too much heat. We crushed the inital 1.6-mile climb to the equipment in 28 minutes, racking up 1,000 feet of elevation gain, and then motored to the intersection with the Lakes Trail about 3.5 miles in.

If you know Coldwater, you understand that the game changes here.

The brush was a little bit of an issue as we started up, but steepness and loose tread were the biggest problems. It took us a total of 3.5 hours to cover the six miles to St. Helens Lake. The views of the lake and the mountain were spectacular. We also saw a herd of elk.

You might be asking yourself, “How can this be? The slackers only averaged 1.7 miles per hour.” Actually, on the second half of the climb we were well under that.

As Paul would say, let me break it down for you – 1,800 feet of elevation gain over 2.5 miles, with snowfields, logs across the trail in places, and exposure that fell into two categories: (1) falling would really hurt and (2) falling would kill you.

We got to St. Helens Lake, took some photos and headed back. It was tough to get much speed until the second half, but from that point on it was incredibly fast. Big props to the trail crew from Growlers Gulch Racing that did such a great job up there.

Total ride time was about 4.5 hours.

Again, you are probably asking yourself, “How could it possibly take that long?” In my opinion, this is one of the most sporting 12-mile rides in the Northwest.

As you know, we aren’t the smartest group – when we got back, we all agreed that we had a blast.

Recommendation – It’s “only” 12 miles total (How hard could it be?) but I think a good route is to climb to the back of the lake (3.5 miles) and then rail down. If you’re feeling cheated, do it again.

Revealing statistic of the day – Paul burned 6,600 calories (6.6 per mile) on a century ride earlier this summer. We burned 3,700 in 12 miles (308 per mile/800 per hour).

I’m sure this is the result of a mathematical anomaly. You figure it out.

Looking toward Coldwater Creek about 4 miles in where things start getting gnarly
Looking toward Coldwater Creek about 4 miles in where things start getting gnarly
Paul is just to the right of the boulder
Paul getting ready to deal with a modest log-over
There is a high likelihood of seeing elk at the five-mile mark as you crest a ridge and have a view south toward St. Helens
St. Helens Lake - Tourists don't get this view at Johnston Ridge
Generating speed is not a problem on the way back

One thought on “Under-employed Ride South Coldwater”

  1. The description is accurate…brutal climb. I think it would take more than the sweet ride back to make me forget the pain. Several Double Jacks or other tasty high ABV brews.

    Great job to the slackers…underemployed.

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