Day 5 – Friday, October 2nd, 2020
I awoke at my campsite on the bluff to the sound of foghorns from the slowly passing ferries. The view from the bluff was a blanket of fog, obscuring the islands and disappearing the boats. It was clammy and chilly, a real autumn morning. By the time I’d made breakfast and broke camp the fog was lifting, but it wouldn’t fully burn off until late morning. The last time I rode on Lopez was this freak weekend in January where it was over 70 degrees. Getting out to the island of course took time so the lateness of the day limited the riding. I rode all over the island but bypassed the little Village. So I wanted to get out there this time, even though due to the pandemic I wouldn’t really be “shopping.” I did though hope I could find a map of the Islands trails and I could always do with another round of coffee. So off to town I went in the cold and damp.
There really is only the one main road across Lopez with a spur to make a tight loop. So I was mostly on “backroads” which pretty much just are the roads there. It’s pretty flat for the most part with gently rolling hills. The scenery is primarily farmland and small stands of woods. It was one of these sections of trees that I was heading for, the protected forestland around Lopez Hill. This involved going on some real backroads and eventually onto a dirt road, which had a sign noting its unimproved status. The road went through those kind of backwoods homesteads that have a lot of space and a lot of no trespassing signs before coming to the turnoff to the trailhead.
From the Friends of Lopez Hill: “There are four miles of multiple use trails on Lopez Hill. The trails are designed as “primitive” trails as they are naturally surfaced, narrow, and have a minimum of artificial constructions and signage.” This pretty much covers it. The hill is about 550 feet high and the trails surround it and make their way nearly to the summit. They are fairly technical, that is single track with lots of rocks, roots and narrow, twisty sections. I often had to dismount and push over a short section of roots or rocks though never did I have to hike-a-bike for long stretches. The panniers and touring load didn’t help, but the NFE’s handling fully loaded is nearly the same as unloaded so it really wasn’t bad. But as a single track climb pretty directly up the 500 feet I definitely got my workout. I only saw a few hikers while I was there and maybe one other bicycler. The trail comes to within a dozen feet or so of the summit and bicycles (and horses) aren’t allowed all the way up. So I laid the bike down and hiked to the top. There wasn’t really much in the way of clear views from there but I found a nice place to hang out and have lunch. I lingered for a while before riding down and taking one of the most difficult trails of the day to an alternate entrance, making for a “C’-shaped near loop around and over the Hill.