A high alpine ride from Werner Peak to Red Meadow Pass following the crest of the Whitefish Range. This trail has potential to be extremely difficult, yet extremely rewarding all depending on weather and conditions. Pick a good late season day and bring a map because at times the trail is not visible and you need to follow cairns to find the route.
This is grizzly bear country so make lots of noise, be cautious on descents and BRING BEAR SPRAY.
When to Ride
Early season the trail is covered in snow well into the first part of July. There is a lot of overgrowth and brush on the northernmost section of the trail. The best time to ride is late summer/early fall. All the brush dies away after a couple of good freezes. Be prepared for wind, rain or snow when doing this ride later in the season.
Riding from Werner Peak to Red Meadow.
The trail starts at the top of Werner Peak directly north of the lookout. From there you drop down a fun descent into China Basin. This is a flat marshy area just east of the ridge where you'll pass multiple pothole lakes. At times the trail will fade away just make sure to follow the cairns and when in doubt stay closer to the ridge.
From there you will be faced with a series of steep climbs. Some are barely rideable or hike-a-bike with techy descents. There are 2 significant passes. After the first pass there is a hard left in the first descent. If you miss this left you'll fly over the handlebars about 1000 feet down through steep brush. After the first descent follow the trail up to the next pass which is the ridge above Haynes Pass. I believe that if you are following a forest service map here it is wrong. It describes a trail with switchbacks that drops to the pass. THAT DOESN'T EXIST. Follow the trail to the right and at the bottom of this pass there is another trail that comes in from the Coal Creek Drainage in the North Fork. Stay on #6.
From Haynes pass there is about a 2 mile sustained climb back to the ridge of the Whitefish Range. Most of this trail is steep but rideable the whole way.
Once on the ridge the trail will be visible most of the time but at other times you are ridge top riding and following cairns to find your route. This is the most spectacular and technical section of the ride in high alpine terrain with open ridges and riding through talus fields. On a clear day there will be views to the west and all the way into the North Fork, and Livingston Range in Glacier National Park.
After about 4 miles of riding along the ridge you will descend single track back to the upper Whitefish Lake Road. From here on the trail has the potential to be a brushy nightmare or late season it is a fast, flowy, and fun descent for about 3 miles and 1,500 vertical feet.
This is a great ride but access is tricky without running a long shuttle or making it a really long ride. The road up Werner peak is steep and climbs almost 4,000 feet.
Drive a vehicle up the Werner Peak Road, There is a pull out right before the gate. Park here, ride the rest of the way up to the Lookout. You can park a second car anywhere along the upper Whitefish Lake Road. It is mostly downhill to upper Whitefish Lake so you could park there but it makes a long shuttle. Alternately we park a car near the base of Werner Peak and ride the 9-10 road miles back to the cart from the trail end.
Riding the whole thing
This would be a huge ride that starts out with a 4k foot dirt road climb to the top of Werner peak followed by a 10 mile road ride out. Park near the base of the Werner Peak Road, Ride up, Ride the trail, ride 10 miles back.
Local Trail Association
More Stats for Ralph Thayer Memorial Trail mountain bike trail
Altitude change-1,446 ft
Altitude min5,505 ft
Altitude start6,951 ft
Altitude end5,505 ft
Distance climb7 miles
Distance down9 miles
Distance flat3,573 ft
Avg reverse time06:08:14
- view trail stats
- Snow Packed
- Snow Covered
- Freeze/thaw Cycle
- Prevalent Mud
- Very Dry
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