Hope Point mountain biking

Mountain biking Hope Point is about as good as it gets.  The lower half is fast and fun singletrack welcoming to riders of intermediate skill level, and the upper half is as techy alpine beautiful challenging riding as it gets!  SO. FUN.

Hope Point is a great mountain bike trail . . . it’s about 2.3 miles and 1900’ to the top of the flowy singletrack and a big cairn that makes a great turnaround spot for a ride of moderate difficulty.  It takes me about 75 min to ascend and the descent is super fast!  There are a few switchbacks up top that I’ve got a foot down for, although some clear them I’m sure.  The forest section is super fast and fun – quickly into the trees with good dirt.  Even on a rainy day, sections of the trail stay dry and it doesn’t saturate quickly.  For under 2 hours that’s about 1700’ of gain and loss, which is a pretty solid return on time invested (similar to Crescent Lake or Ptarmigan Lake mountain bike rides time-wise)!

For awhile, there was a sign up saying “closed to bikes” but that confusion has since been cleared up . . . “The words from the Seward District Ranger on this are: “It is NOT illegal to ride horse or bikes on the trail. Bikes are not recommended because of the steepness and safety of bikes on that trail. At this time, I am not seeking a Forest Order. Give me a call if you have any questions.”-Francisco B. Sanchez.”

I’ve traditionally done this ride only from the first cairn down, which is a totally worthy ride in and of itself . . . and I recently decided to do the ride from the ~3700′ summit . . .

This ride from top-to-bottom is very exciting and one of the best overall rides in Southcentral, I think!  It’s got to be up there with the coolest rides I’ve done, for sure.  That said, it’s no ‘gimme’ and definitely not for everyone!!!!

The ride starts out pretty manageable off the summit – not too steep, but plenty technical to stay on the trail.  A quick corner takes you to a long traverse that’s very rideable, and feels quite exposed so it definitely makes you pay attention!  While rideable, there are some rocky/techy sections that don’t make it a high-speed charge.  Plus, the trail is fairly narrow in this section.  A really cool knoll ride to recover your nerves and it’s into the steep section down to the rocky ledge you walked up.  This section is pretty loose, very steep, and quite adventurous to descend!  

Look closely to see the long traverse – the trail then goes around the corner and climbs the backside of the peak.

 

Coming off the traverse

A bit of recovery ridge ride

 

And rolling over into the steep section . . . the views don’t disappoint!

While I stayed on the trail and walked the ridge, I have since found out that others descend through the tundra and traverse below the rocks.  It’s not a rideable section of trail.  

 

Brief portions of riding occur on the ‘unrideable’ ridge!

The portion below the rocky ridge is very steep and exciting and loose again, and then it’s back to more wooded and classic trail riding.  This section is also fun and engaging, between rock sections, switchbacks, brush, and still narrower than the main trail.  Super fun!  

From the cairn at the halfway (elevation) point, the trail is wider and more open . . . so especially after the thrill/challenge of the upper section, it rides very fast!  Reminder: yield to pedestrians!  For that reason, it’s a nice trail to ride later in the day when you’re less likely to encounter hikers – in my case, I descended at 6pm-ish and was glad for that as I didn’t encounter anyone on the descent!  I think the lower section rides faster after you’ve ridden the upper section where opening it up is less of an option!  Those corners come up on you fast, and rear tire skids around seem to be the norm!  I might have been more afraid on the lower section for how fast it rode – so fun!!!

A+ views off the top of the main trail section . . . a worthy ride in and of itself!

 

Fast and fun . . . watch out for pedestrians and tight switchbacks!

Overall, I was an hour to the first cairn at the halfway (elevation) point, and another 1:45 from there to the summit.  The upper hike is much more enjoyable for me, however, as it’s so pretty up high, and it feels like you’re really getting somewhere!  It’s a lot of bike-on-the-shoulders mountaineering rest step.  For being 70 degrees at the base and dripping with sweat on the way up, the summit was cold and windy!  My knee pads were useful for warmth at a minimum (and I was very glad to have protection on the way down!).  

This ride is a funny one to ‘recommend’ because it’s very difficult and won’t be enjoyable from the summit for many riders.  However, riding from the first cairn down is doable for all – some switchbacks might be walk-arounds, but otherwise the trail is not technical.  That said, if you have the skills, the summit ride is all-time and definitely worthy 🙂

Thankfully downtown Hope and the Seaview is there waiting for you to reward a ride well done 🙂

A nice view of the ride from town – the summit is actually out of view behind the tallest point in the picture!

For more mountain biking trail reports, check out the whole guide to Alaska biking!!!  Ride on and enjoy 🙂

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