The Holy Mountain is a 47 mile mixed-terrain gravel + singletrack loop which climbs 5356 feet over the south and west sides of wy'east. A vision quest of sorts, undertaken in observance of the autumnal equinox, The Holy Mountain features a cathartic cross section of gravel + primitive road climbs, smokin' singletrack descents, pavement, jeep trail and even more challenging singletrack descents!
The Holy Mountain starts at the ZigZag Ranger Station, on the south side of Hwy 26 across from Lolo Pass Road. Initially conceived as a group ride and camp event, the route can be run in several configurations, starting/finishing either at the Zig Zag Ranger Station or near the Sandy River up on Muddy Fork, the latter option adding roughly ten miles and a couple hundred feet of climbing to the day. Additionally there is a version that includes a climb to Timberline Lodge via West Leg Road and a longer singletrack descent via Timberline to Town Trail, details of which can be found below.
The ride begins by picking up a tasty bit of trail leading directly out of the far east end of the ranger station parking lot. This segues into a bit of old highway 26 in the process of being reclaimed by forest. This short stretch of lost highway runs into East Faubian Loop and onto 26 for less than a mile before picking up Still Creek Road and climbing gently for 14 miles toward Trillium Lake. We bear right onto 2613 toward Kinzel and Veda Lakes. The next three miles pitch up into a bit more of a rocky jeep trail reminiscent of Abbott road or Barlow before intersecting the Veda Lake and Dry Fir trails.
From here we head left down the sublime + underutilized Dry Fir trail for a bit of descending. Dry Fir has a nice, smooth, fast loamy surface w/ just the right amount of overgrown feel. NF2656 leads us back to Tarmac near Trillium Lake and on up to 26. We cross 26 directly into the SnowBunny parking lot and jump onto East Leg road, a saucy bit of chunky stuff that climbs up to intersect and cross Timberline Highway onto an unnamed doubletrack forest connector leading to upper West Leg road. Head left on West Leg and descend to mile 27.7 where we intersect Alpine Trail 660 to mile 27.9 before heading NW onto the blissful singletrack of Camp Creek trail.
Camp Creek dips and winds westward, intersecting Crosstown trail 755, which we follow to the Pioneer Bridle trailhead. Continue on Pioneer Bridle until the trail passes through the stone tunnel at Twin Bridges road at which point there are two options.
Anyone rolling less than 40c tires would do well to jump on the pavement here and bypass the rockier sections of upper Pioneer Bridle via Twin Bridges and Kiwanis Camp roads, the latter of which intersects Hwy 26 just south of the Pioneer Bridle crossing, this makes it easy to sidestep most of the really rough stuff then jump back on Pioneer Bridle as it crosses to the south side of 26. (See image above for more detail)
Those on 40+ or MTB can simply continue through the tunnel along the remainder of Pioneer Bridle trail, which intersects several crossroads, driveways and National Forest parking areas, so keep alert in this section.
Pioneer Bridle rejoins 26 at mile 39.2. We cross 26 once again onto East Henry Creek and ZigZag River roads, returning to gravel again around mile 40 at Road 19, which rambles a bit before reconnecting w/ the west side of ZigZag River road and Lolo Pass. Head right up Lolo Pass road, right again onto Muddy Fork road. Camping areas will be on the right hand side along the Sandy River just a bit before the bridge.
CAveats, Advices & wisdoms
the route is roughly 50% singletrack, 40% gravel and 10% paved
This is very much a mountain bike ride that is accessible but challenging on drop bar bikes. everyone has a different comfort threshold in this area, but if you're unsure about which bike to bring, know that this route is much more 'hardtail' than 'roadbikes offroad'
you will need to bring a method to treat water and be prepared to do so
most of all, have fun, stay safe and enjoy!!
MINIMUM TIRE SIZE: 38C. TRUST US. YOU WILL NOT WANT TO DO THIS ON 33'S
OPTIMAL TIRE/BIKE RECOMMENDATION: 38C-2"+ ... BASICALLY ANYTHING FROM FATTY CX TO MTB IS REASONABLE HERE
WATER REFILL AVAIL AT STILL CREEK AND MULTIPLE POINTS THEREAFTER. FILTER REQUIRED
full route + gpx file: HTTPS://RIDEWITHGPS.COM/ROUTES/16690912
IN ANTICIPATION OF THIS PURIFICATION THROUGH SUFFERING, WE'VE PREPARED A VIBE GUIDE FOR YOUR JOURNEY.
* As mentioned earlier the Timberline ALT version of the Holy Mountain route shown below features a smooth tarmac climb to Timberline Lodge via West Leg Road beneath the ski area chairlifts. This version descends via the Timberline to Town mountain bike trail before connecting to the Crosstown Trail above Government Camp. There are several bailout and bypass options around Government Camp before fully committing to the full Pioneer Bridle descent.