Finding a little adventure just outside of the city.
Living in an actual city has its perks as a cyclist. There is usually a good amount of dedicated bike infrastructure, a tremendous amount of route options, plenty of other folks to ride with (which is rad when we’re not in a pandemic), and a nearly endless supply of pavement. Unfortunately, that last point also means that there probably isn’t that much gravel nearby.
Sure, we’ve got our fair share of alleyways, shortcuts, parks, and greenspaces, but it’s not like I can just leave my house and go ride forty miles of gravel roads from my front door. City life (at least in MY city) simply means that most longer off-road routes require driving to a trail head, so imagine my excitement when I realized that there is a decently sized forest road network roughly ten miles from my front door.
Is it super amazing and packed with brutal climbs and breathtaking views? No, but not all rides can be ultra-epic, and it’s nice to know that I can escape into a forest and hit some trails when I only have two and a half hours to kill. *This is one of the things that I love so much about the Northwest; you’re never that far from something that feels like wilderness.
I ride this route as an out and back. You could drive there and just ride around the trails, but as an OAB from Tacoma, it’s a thirty-ish mile day with about 2,500 feet of elevation… which is basically perfect for me.
Into the Woods
The 1000 Acre Wood (or Crescent Valley Watershed) is a large swath of privately owned timberland perched atop the eastern edge of Crescent Valley, just north of Gig Harbor. The area is roughly two miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide.
It contains a surprisingly large network of gravel forest roads, wide dirt trails, single track, and tight hiking trails. It is bordered on the west by Crescent Valley Drive. Drummond Drive and Hallstrom make the southern and eastern borders, and Crescent Lake sits at the northern edge.
The forest is a natural watershed for the Crescent Lake and Crescent Creek drainage, and is home to a pretty diverse ecosystem.
The 1000 Acre Wood is private land, but the owners allow public access for recreation. Obviously, this means that you need to respect the trails, other trail users, and follow the principals of Leave No Trace. On nicer days you will come across hikers, dog-walkers, and possibly another bicycle or two.
The forest consists of a wide range of growth (depending on when it was last logged) on undulating terrain, mixed with several large clearings. In late spring, it blooms spectacularly with wild foxglove and hollyhocks.
The forest roads are all well packed, consisting of hard, rock-filled soil. It doesn’t drain well so standing water isn’t uncommon, and you may find that some of the trails turn into actual creeks after recent rains.
The larger roads criss-cross through the forest, and because they are only access roads for logging, most of them just dead-end and continue forward as stretches of single track. The majority of the forest is rideable on a gravel bike, but there are definitely a few trails that venture into mountain bike/ hike-a-bike territory.
There aren’t any rock gardens or mountain bike specific features, but you will come across some tree roots and little berms. There are also quite a few steep climbs and descents, although they are all pretty short.
There is no permit or anything required to park or use the trails. Be aware, there are zero amenities here. No water, no restrooms, nothing. Just a maze of fun dirt and gravel to explore. Have fun. Be safe. Don’t ruin it. Leave No Trace.