This (26 mi, 1900′) (gpx) is a great, moderate ride. The Logging Road Cyclist has done this loop twice now, and will come back for more. It’s a great option if one is trying to avoid high country snow, or just looking for a morning’s outing before heading back to the barn for some afternoon chores.
TLRC had messed around in both Rickreall Cr. and the area above Falls City, but had never put this together. He got it from the folks at rickreallgravelclassic.tumblr.com who elucidated the tricky part that goes from Rickreall to the Black Rock biking area. This loop is 26 miles out of their projected 80 mile ride. Thanks guys!
TLRC has started at the IOOF cemetery just east of Falls City. A mix of gravel and pavement leads north on Oakdale and Ellendale roads to the turnoff just north of the Rickreall Cr. Bridge. Head upstream. Be brave and ignore the dire No Trespassing signs all around the road and quarry: Some local MTB guys once told TLRC that they use the area all the time outside of working hours and no one minds. Go on up Rickreall Cr. past Aaron Mercer Reservoir and beyond. The Creek is very pretty all through here, and TLRC is kicking himself for not having gotten any pictures (in his defense, since he was on someone else’s ride, TLRC felt that he was on a bit of a vacation, and hence slacked off).
A moderate climb out of Rickreall starts at about mile 17. After a short stretch a road goes off to the left: ignore it, and take the next right. Within a mile or so, one will arrive at a gate and start to head downhill. If you’re still climbing here, you’ve taken the wrong turn (TLRC knows this). It’s a pretty short stretch to the Black Rock MTB area, through which a climb leads up to the rather secondary-looking road that leads to Socialist Valley.
Socialist Valley. TLRC loves that name. While riding through he can’t keep himself from muttering “Muslim Kenyan Socialist” over and over, and has to strain to keep from yelling “Vive Che!” at the rare passersby. He once heard from a prof at a local institution of higher learning that the Valley got its name because The Man killed an IWW man who was trying to organize the logging camps, back in the day. TLRC has never found this story online, but did find reference to “utopian socialist communities” in Oregon, one of which was located here. Oh well. The prof was a Marxist, and maybe he was just trying to cheer himself up.
Once into Falls City, there is what is supposed to be excellent pizza, a couple of stores, and a very quick roll back to the start.