My recent ride through the Green Mountain and Tahuya State Forests hit all of the high points for a great day of cycling: great company, great terrain, great scenery, great (albeit cold) weather and great adventure.
Mike, Ryan and myself boarded the Seattle-to-Bremerton Ferry with a kind of cursory agenda to explore the spit of land west of Bremerton and east of the Hood Canal. I have no familiarity with this area, but luckily Mike had some solid knowledge of both the Green Mountain State Forest and the Tahuya State Forest.
I had downloaded a map of a proposed route, but once we hit Green Mountain we continually seemed to be sucked off course. Eventually we decided that due to our continual state of being “Off Course” we would use the map as a basic guideline and make our own route. Near the highpoint of Green Mountain, we hit some legitimate single track, none of it was super technical, but occasional roots and rocks did make riding a gravel bike a bit spicy.
After a not-so-long descent back to the road we rolled along nearly carless pavement westbound towards Tahuya. By road biker standards the chip seal on the road would be considered rough, but after three hours on gravel and single track the road belt buttery smooth beneath our wide low-pressure tires. The downloaded route took us to a driveway framed by two signs: “No Trespassing Keep Out” and “Beware of Dog.” My earlier statement of “I hope we don’t get Rat Holed” seemed oddly prescient. Fortunately, Mike has spotted a battered trail marker about a hundred yards back. I had completely missed the sign, but it turned out to be the critical turn leading us to a disused, yet completely ridable, roadbed.
The western end of the former road was marked/blocked by what appeared to be large metal cable spools. We saw a number of signs prohibiting motorized travel, but there was nothing to imply that we were trespassing on private property; the route appears to be public. Back on the pavement we rolled towards Tahuya eventually hitting a motorcycle trail.
Green Mountain seemed to be the domain of hikers and bikers, Tahuya, by contrast, seemed to be more of a motorized vehicle park. Motorcycle/ORV trails have some fun high berms, but they also seem to have abundant deep water holes and large chunky rocks. In theory it would seem that a great motorcycle trail would make a great mountain bike trail, but in reality not so much.
Following the motorcycle trail we hit a logging road which led us to some current and some not-so-current access roads – we rode south and east as much as possible – eventually spitting us out at a parking lot on NE Belfair Tahuya Road. A super-fast descent took us to the waterfront and Highway 300, which we followed to the outskirts of Belfair where we turned onto Old Belfair Road and into Bremerton. When we hit Highway 3 Ryan amped the pace and rolled fast along Carrier Row towards downtown Bremerton. We arrived at the ferry dock thirty minutes early, the sun had descended over the horizon and the temperature was quickly dropping. I was glad that I had packed my rain jacket as it now provided much needed warmth.
To me, few things rival a westbound evening ferry ride; Mike, Ryan and I kicked back and enjoyed the return trip. The ten-mile ride home from the ferry terminal was slow and easy, and even though it was only six o-clock the streets were peaceful and quiet.
As picked our way up some challenging single-track while slightly off course on Green Mountain I commented to Mike and Ryan that I really enjoy getting out with folks who are up for a bit of unknown. We weren’t lost, but then again, we weren’t exactly on route either, but with some good sense, adequate equipment and necessary fitness we were able to punch through and make it work. To me, this is the thrill of off-road cycling.
Route information can be found here: Kitsap & Mason County ride | Ride | Strava