Ride #4: Tiger Canyon - Mormon Grade Loop

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Starting Point: Bottom of Tiger Canyon Road- see introduction for directions.

Ride Description: Ascend Tiger Canyon Road (USFS Road 65) to the intersection of Government Mountain Road (USFS 6511). This spot, where the Tiger Canyon Road crests the ridge separating the drainages of Tiger Creek and the North Fork Walla Walla River is referred to in this guidebook as the "Top of Tiger." From Mill Creek to the Top of Tiger, Tiger Canyon Road climbs 2450 ft. maintaining a fairly gentle grade over 7.5 miles. Turn right on the Government Mountain Road (rocky dirt) and ride 6.0 miles where you will encounter a cattle guard. Between the Top of Tiger and the cattleguard, the road descends and then climbs out of two major saddles. Avoid the many deadend spur roads that branch off from the main road. Just before reaching the cattle guard, the road gently switchbacks through a stand of old growth fir trees. Turn right at the cattle guard onto USFS Road 400. Follow this rutted dirt road for 1.6 miles and then turn left onto the overgrown washed-out entrance to Henry Canyon. If you miss this turn (and you probably will) you will continue out on USFS Road 420 onto a ridge with great views. This road dead-ends on the ridge, so turn around, retrace your path, and look for the Henry Canyon turnoff just after a short steep downhill. If you stop and listen, you can often hear Henry Creek on the south side of the road when you are near the turnoff. Follow the occasionally washed out Henry Canyon Road (still USFS Road 400) downstream for 0.8 mile until the road turns left and crosses the creek near an old junked car. Do not continue down Henry Canyon. Climb for 0.3 mile out of Henry Canyon where you turn right and cross a creek. Go left at a fork in the road 1.2 miles further on and enter a clearcut 0.4 mile after that. Bear right at forks until you reach a wide dirt road 0.7 mile after entering the logged area. Turn right (downhill) on this road (a left turn leads through Little Meadows back to the Government Mountain Road). After 2.9 miles turn right onto Mormon Grade. Descend Mormon Grade 6.6 miles to the intersection with Scenic Loop. Turn right on graveled Scenic Loop and follow this road for 2.7 miles to paved Mill Creek Road. Turn right on Mill Creek Road and ride 5.2 miles gently uphill on pavement and gravel back to your vehicle.

Remarks: Variations of this ride have been popular with Walla Walla mountain bikers for many years. Be in shape if you intend to ride the complete loop. Follow the directions and map closely to avoid getting lost. You can supplement the map with the USGS 7.5 min. Big Meadows and Peterson Ridge topographic maps. You'll enjoy this ride more if you have front suspension. Some of the descents are very rocky, Mormon Grade in particular.

Vital statistics:

Length: 36.1 miles

Total climbing: 4680 ft.

Time: 5-7 hours

Season: late May to early November

Techno factor = 3; rocky sections on climbs and rutted and rocky roads on descents.

Grunt factor = 8; lots of climbing, although no sections are very steep.

Adventure factor = 6; potential route-finding problems.

Some Options:

1) Shuttle the climb up Tiger Canyon. This reduces the climbing to a reasonable 2230 ft. and the mileage to 28.6. T=3, G=5, A=6.

2) Shuttle from the base of Mormon Grade to the top of Tiger. This reduces the climbing to an easy 1351 ft. and the mileage to 20.5. T=3, G=3, A=6.

3) Drive to the Top of Tiger. Begin riding the loop. Turn left when you reach Mormon Grade and descend Pikes Peak Road to Walla Walla via Cottonwood Road (14 mi.). Drive back up to the Top of Tiger and retrieve your car. T=4, G=3, A=6.