Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tolt McDonald Park

Number 1 son Ian and I took a trip to Tolt McDonald Park today, while mom and number 1 daughter Amy hit Nordstrom for new shoes. I'll take the woods over the mall every time. When it comes down to it, I'd probably take a root canal over the mall.

We've never ridden at Tolt McDonald, though we've talked about checking it out. Super nice fall day, so we loaded up and headed towards Carnation. After our usual late start and Mexican food lunch to fuel up, rolled into the park late in the afternoon. Plan was to just explore a bit and check out the trails.

That's exactly what we did.......

As we rolled into the woods, after a fairly steep climb, another father and son riding combo was heading out. I asked them for some trail pointers and they handed over their map. Nice. It helped a bit, but since none of the trails are marked, just gives you a general sense of direction by following the main trails - named "roads" on the map.

In-between the main trails are a pinball maze of singletrack, some of it pretty technical. It would take awhile to learn this maze to put together a ride that flowed. Since we had no idea, just hit trails as we saw them - occasionally popping back out on a main road. The singletrack maze area is fairly flat, full of rooted out trails, log crossings and other fun sections. A few small wooden bridges here and there to cross muddy areas - though today everything was totally dry. We ran into a few other riders as well, this place seems to be pretty popular.

After an hour or so of singletrack cruising, including one longer, straight fast section - full of horse crap (why this is considered okay, is beyond me) - the sun was getting low in the sky. Time to head back. Even with the semi-useful map, we're lost. We ride around a bit, backtracking some. I crash twice at low speed, banging my knee in the handlebar and hurting my wrist as well. Minor stuff, no big deal. We run into some guy walking dogs and he gives us the info needed to head out of the woods. On the way out, I confirm our correct exit with some fellow mountain bike riders. One lends me a 6mm allen wrench to straighten out my crash twisted saddle. Thanks.

After some exploring of the campground and Tolt River, we're back at the car in no time. We need to hit this place again - next time earlier in the day. The singletrack maze is worth riding again. This 575 acre park is plenty big enough to have a good time, especially with a 10 year old involved. Mental note to keep this place in mind for an easy summer getaway. Rent a yurt, play by the river, ride bikes, cook outside, etc. Cheap fun and only 45 minutes from the house.

A few pictures from the day.....

The Tolt River cuts right through the park. Pretty scenic, eh?

Look close to see salmon. There were quite a few to witness swimming upstream or spawning in this section of the river. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest.

Washed up salmon eggs and pieces of salmon. Spawning is a tough business.

Suspension bridge crosses the Tolt River and leads to the maze of singletrack.

We stop mid-span to watch salmon and take in the view. There are worse ways to spend a sunny afternoon - no?

Here kitty kitty.....

Ian keeps an eye out for cougars, while my Cannondale cowers against nearby log.

Coast is clear of large felines. We plow ahead. Actually seeing a cougar would be a one in a million shot - and memorable. And hopefully harmless.....

Evil tree spotted on singletrack section - where I crashed twice. I'm blaming the tree.

World Cup downhill action - or Ian headed back to the car? You decide.

Further proof as to why my modeling career never took off.

Official support vehicle - complete with cracked windshield and clacking CV joints - loaded for trip home.

Ride over, Tolt McDonald adventure complete. We'll be back for further exploration - no doubt. Thanks for reading. Now go out and do your own little adventure.


  1. Very cool. At this rate, it won't be long before your kid is leaving you in the dust. Anyway, I think I sent something to your work email, but if it doesn't go through, I do still check my old hotmail, which I believe you have.


  2. Dominic - cool to run into you the other day. Nice Suzuki V-Strom - seeing that stuff gets my motorcycle DNA active again. No motorcycles for me for awhile though. It may be a long time.....

    Yeah, Ian should be kicking my ass soon on the bike. He continues to grow and get stronger, while I become the Old Dude. I am the riding Old Dude however, which puts me a little ahead of regular Old Dudes.

    I hope....