BIKE | HIKE | PADDLE
So I get it. I get why people do triathlons.
When I learned that four miles of road is closed in Millcreek Canyon the idea of tying a bike ride with a hike came to mind...then we purchased an inflatable paddle board and there was no question, we had to go for a trifecta.
Now, many people visit this area for mountain biking on the excellent forested trails, so this doesn't seem like such a revolutionary idea. Ry and I have road bikes, and, to be honest, I'm a newbie on two wheels. For me it was a pretty big deal to bike up a canyon, and incredibly challenging. Worth it challenging, but challenging. Man it was steep. For the dogs, it was an even bigger deal. They kept looking at us in complete awe. They were so impressed that their people could finally keep up with them. I will never forget their expressions while we zipped through the woods.
The paddle board is inflatable and it's packable weight is only 22lbs so it was light enough to carry up with us, although it made me a bit top heavy when I was on the bike. It was totally worth the awkwardness to have some way to play on the water in snowy conditions. The dogs also LOVE getting chauffeured around the lake.
I absolutely recommend combining these three activities, or swapping the paddle for a swim once the water warms a bit.
Drive up the Millcreek Canyon Road until you hit the Maple Grove parking lot. It would be hard to miss as a large barrier marks the end of the road. Don't forget to bring cash or card to pay the $3 admittance fee for this area, or you could spring for the $40 annual pass which pays for itself if you go a little more than once a month. Also, the on/off leash rules apply year round so if you plan on having your dog off leash please only do so on an odd numbered day.
Park your car and mount your bikes. We wear helmets always, so don't forget those. Depending on how trusting you are I would also bring a bike lock to secure your ride to a tree. Ry's bike has clip ins so he also had to pack hiking boots in our day pack. One of the best parts about this expedition is that you ride along a creek for the entirety of your time on bikes- meaning you don't need to pack water in for your dogs. Do remember to pull to the side to let them take proper rests when they need to stop for a drink.
After about 3 miles of biking we encountered too much ice (yes, in late May) to ride through so we locked up the bikes and began our hike. You will reach another 'end-of-the-road' area marked by a large field and a yurt. On the right you will see the trailhead for Dog Lake, complete with a map. Several forested switchbacks start you on your journey but shortly after it will open up to incredible views and a beautiful winding trail. Something to be aware of- this is moose and elk territory. While we didn't see these amazing creatures, evidence of them was scattered all over the trails.
The hike in comes out to be about 2.5 miles (more for us since we dismounted our bikes a bit earlier than expected). Some of the trail was covered in snow so prepare for some post holing.
We hadn't seen another soul for over an hour so I expected to have the lake to ourselves, but that wasn't the case. Evidently there is an easier way to access this trail by car and short hike- which is how our neighbors had accessed the lake. That being said we only encountered 4 other groups throughout the day, and none of them had our longevity. We sat on the banks of the lake for hours, eating sandwiches and taking turns on the paddle board. I'd imagine that later in the year this gorgeous little gem turns into a complete zoo, so I would come on off hours or off season.
Our journey probably totaled 6 hours. It would have been much shorter but right after we started our bike decent Ry's tire blew and he had to walk it down.
One of the most delightful things about this day was that each of our strengths were highlighted. Ry is a very strong biker, I just learned how to bike two years ago. I shine in the hiking department and Ry, well he's a great hiker too but maybe not *quite* as good as me. The dogs can run for hours. We both got to feel challenged and powerful. Definitely making this a regular weekend occurrence.
Things to pack; sunscreen, swimsuit, towels, extra socks (to swap at the lake after post holing), hiking boots, hat or sunglasses, bike lock, key for the bike lock (something I always forget), doggy treats, lunch, bear mace, water for the humans.
There are dozens of other trails within Millcreek that we intend on visiting on bike via the closed road. The entire area is full of "choose your adventure" options. Hope to see you on the trails!