Last weekend I rode Rufus Trail, a trail that was suggested by a coworker as a really nice climbing trail in the Lookout Mountain area. The trail leads from the parking lot on Lake Louise Road, across from one of the Sudden Valley gates. It’s a lot that I’ve parked in several time, I just have only hiked or hike-a-biked up the road to one of the Lookout Mountain towers. At one point I tried going on some trails that led to the Waterfall, but there were so many limbs and trees over the trails at the time, that I just never ended up going back. Silly me.
I guess Rufus is meant to be a climbing approach to the downhill only Cougar Ridge Trail. I am pretty sure that Rufus is an easy Green rated trail while Cougar has either Blue or Black rating, depending on which path you take on the way down, more on that later. Rufus is a mostly wide open well groomed trail with few obstacle, mostly small roots and rocks. And as a climbing trail the grade is steady and consistent while not too steep after you leave the lower part of the trail. There were a few places I couldn’t ride, but it was pretty wet on the weekend that I went. The trail also has a forest coolness factor that you just don’t find on the Galbraith trails which feel a lot more artificial and manmade, maybe because Rufus cuts through protected forest that hasn’t been logged recently, while the Galbraith side is a working forest where you have to check the logging/spraying report like a weather report. Rufus does have a few manmade items like a bridge, a bench, a fence or two and even a few berms, just not enough manmade stuff to feel too manmade.
So, I’m definitely not a downhill Black trail rider, but knowing of the Blue alternates routes on the Cougar Ridge Trail had me going into this ride thinking I would be riding a loop of sorts, with the bottom end of Cougar dumping me back into Rufus about halfway back down. It did, but I found that even the alternate Blue routes were mostly beyond my skill level. On the Galbraith side, trails like Mole-Trap, Three Pigs or even Pump Track are what I know as Blue. They are rocky, rooted, small drops, but also low exposure to long falls or tumbles should I fail to negotiate the obstacle. A lot of the Blue sections, as I mentioned, were mostly beyond my skill level as the obstacles were on steep downhills, as were the drops and small rock-rolls. Also particularly detrimental to me on Cougar, were the numerous “wheel chocks” in the steep downhill sections, especially on the far sides of obstacles. Wheel Chocks being holes/depressions/roots/rocks, things that trap the front wheels of older bikes with 26″ wheels, especially like mine with cross country geometry. So maybe beyond my comfort level rather than skill so much, but I think that the risk of significant bodily harm also has to figure in the color rating equation, not just the diameter of the root or whether a rock is 18″ rather than 14″. For me it kind of doesn’t matter now that I’ve done it once, I don’t think I will do Cougar again.
At 4.3 miles up to the Cougar intersection, so I think I will just stick to Rufus as and out and back ride through wonderful northwest forest and be more than happy leaving it at just that.