A hard ride, but relatively mellow for an alpine epic in WA. Great views along the ridge, and finishes with downhill. Normally ridden West to East, but could theoretically be ridden East to West as well. Double Black rating applies only to Merritt Lake, where it is caused by technical climbing. A strong intermediate could do this ride if they are willing to push a bit (everyone is likely to push somewhere on this route)
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We pushed our bikes up to Merrit Lake in about an hour and a half, and then continued to push for another two and half hours, and then descended the rest in an hour. The ridge is loose, narrow trail, dusty, rocky, exposed and mostly steep in the first portion. You will do a seemingly endless number of micro-climbs to reach multiple summits, you will max out at around 6,200'. The views are amazing up above the treeline. The descent is roughly the last 6 miles of trail, which can be accessed alone via a different push-a-bike trail (advised, don't climb to the lake and do the whole ridge from there). If you are going to do the Merrit Lake to Nason Ridge, plan for 5-6hrs, 5 being steep pushing episodes with about 20minutes of saddle time, with 1 hour of loosey goosey downhill at the end. The last 6 miles is open to moto, so the trail is rutted out at least a foot deep, so line choices at high speeds were tricky, lots of powder dirt, and lots of flying rocks. I highly recommended climbing the trail that takes you to half way up the ridge, and just doing the downhill section from there. We ended up shuttling so we had a car waiting down at the Nason Creek end of the trail. You're probably better off leaving your bike at home if you want to see the views from this area.
Steep dusty switchbacks all the way up to the lake, mostly forested cover, lots of bugs (mosquitos), 99.9% push-a-bike, one large down tree to navigate, very tough footing because of loose rocks and soil, lots of wild flowers, not crowded. Be advised that the trail is very narrow seeing as it's a hiking trail, partially due to overgrowth of bushes, so pushing the bike is that much more difficult. Allocate upwards 1.5 - 2 hours including short breaks. If you're aiming for Nason Ridge, know that there is another 2hrs or more of exactly the same conditions after the lake until you reach the downhill section at about 7.5miles in.