Selection and Description of Routes

The philosophy guiding the selection of routes for this guide can be summarized in the following statements. Pavement is no place for mountain bikes! Rides that involve the maximum amount of single-track are the most fun. Loop rides are preferable to rides that return along the same path or point-to-point rides that require shuttles. Other factors considered in route selection include land ownership, scenic qualities, and proximity to Walla Walla.

Detailed descriptions for 10 of the best mountain bike rides in the Walla Walla area, based on the criteria outlined above, are presented in this guide. The variations described in the "some options" section contribute another 26 rides. Before you hit the trail, make sure you read the following section which contains important information on how to interpret the ride descriptions, profiles, and maps.

Starting point: The best place to park your car to begin the ride.
Ride Description: A fairly detailed description of the actual ride that provides mileages to important turns. Roads that are not part of the route are not noted in the description unless there could be some confusion (as in a fork). Mileages were computed using a bicycle computer. Your mileage will certainly vary to some degree so be prepared to allow a 10% margin of error. It is possible to follow the routes without a computer, but it is much easier with one than without.
Remarks: General comments concerning the aesthetic qualities of the ride and/or other useful information not found in the description.
Vital Statistics: Important figures to give you a sense of the ride and for comparison between the rides.

Length: Measured using a bike computer - allow for 10% error (mine was right, yours is off!)

Total climbing: All of the climbs on each route were added together using an accumulating altimeter.

Time: The time estimate was computed by bracketing the time that it took the author to complete the route at a leisurely pace. The time estimate assumes that you are continually riding. If you are a strong rider and don't stop, expect to complete the ride at or below the minimum listed time. If you are out of shape or stop frequently, you will finish the ride at or above the maximum listed time.

Season: Routes above 4,000 ft. elevation stand a good chance of snow by early November and often do not "melt out" until mid-May. Routes below 4,000 ft. on open sunny slopes can be unbearably hot from mid-May through mid-September.

Techno factor: Each ride is assigned a techno factor rating from 1-10 based on the condition of the riding surface. Smooth dirt or small gravel rates a 1. Large rocks, roots, stream crossings, tight switchbacks, steep descents, and sidehill trails are some of the features that increase the techno factor. It is always possible to walk your bike through or around these obstacles, but part of the fun of mountain biking is the challenge of negotiating whatever appears in your path without having to dismount or dab a foot.

Grunt factor: The grunt factor is a rating from 1-10 of the physical exertion required to complete the ride. A route with more climbing will not necessarily have a higher grunt factor if the climbing is gentle and long. For instance, an ascent of McKay Grade (2121 ft. in 3.4 miles) would elicit a lot more grunting than would an ascent of Tiger Canyon Road (2480 ft. in 7.5 miles).

Adventure factor: The adventure factor rates your chances of completing the ride without serious mishap. For example, a rating of 1 means that you are not at all likely to get lost, you are not likely to take a bad fall, and should you take a bad fall, an ambulance can drive directly to your location. On the other hand, a rating of 10 means you probably will get lost, there are many opportunities to take falls that will result in serious injury, and it will be several hours at least before you can be carried to a place where a helicopter can pick you up.

Some Options: The rides listed in the "some options" section are included to offer alternatives for those who are looking for a ride that is less strenuous, more strenuous, or simply different. Many of the rides listed in "some options" are listed as variations because they follow routes that are either "up and back" or "point to point" and require a shuttle. The Techno, Grunt, and Adventure factor rating for each option is provided at the end of its description.