The Doris Creek trail is a relatively steep trail, made more difficult by the large amount of loose rock which covers the trail. Fist-sized and babyhead-sized rocks make this 1,500 ft climb over 3 miles feel like much more. This trail provides handcyclists seeking a workout with views of the Hungry Horse reservoir and an abundance of huckleberries in July and August. The trail also connects with Alpine Trail #7, however this stretch of Alpine Trail #7 appears to be built with significant off-camber sections and is not recommended for handcycling as of this writing (July 2017).
The trail begins with an initial obstacle, a gravel berm placed by the Forest Service to prevent vehicles from using the trail. Just be sure to build up enough speed and you should be able to climb up and over the berm. The first mile of the trail follows two switchbacks up an old logging road (Adaptive level 4-5). The grade here is mild and wildflowers populate the trail. At 0.7 miles from the start the trail crosses a small stream with a waterfall right along the trail. The stream has some babyheads and small logs, but is passable without requiring advanced riding.
After the second switchback the trail begins to climb in earnest and slowly narrows to single track. Huckleberry bushes begin to line the sides of the trail, making for easy picking and snacking from a handcycle. Although not especially technical, the steepness of the climb and the loose rocks push this stretch into the Adaptive level 7-8 range.
At 1.9 miles the trail enters the first of several logging cuts with views back towards Hungry Horse reservoir. The trail continues its steep climb through more switchbacks, reaching the only real technical portion of the trail (Adaptive level 9) at two rock ledges with a narrow opening in between and a steep dropoff into brush on the left. Assistance is recommended at this section due to the combination of an off-camber situation created by a sloping rock face coming down towards the trail from the right and the previously mentioned ledges.
Once clear of the ledge the trail continues its elevation assault (Adaptive level 7-8) before reaching a second logging cut at 2.7 miles. At the time of writing there was a large tree across the trail but it was fairly easy to bike off trail around it. Upon reaching this cut the trail also begins to ease up, climbing the remaining half mile to its junction with Alpine Trail #7 at a much more moderate pace (Adaptive level 6).
The trail ends at Alpine Trail #7 under a small grove of towering spruce. This area makes a great place to stop and snack before the bone-jarring ride back down the same way you come up.
NOTE: This trail can contain snow through June, creating several temporary technical aspects or even preventing further travel altogether.
For full video of the ride down the trail, see my link here. Doris Creek Full Descent
Trail Name: Doris Creek Trail
Location: Hungry Horse, Montana |
Type: Narrow trail (< 30"), Wide trail (≥ 30″), Start and end at the same point (Out-and-Back)
Rating: Adaptive Level 9
Steepest Section: Moderate – between 10-30º
Most Off-Camber Section: Moderate – between 10-30º
Terrain: Mostly loose, minimal hardpack
Obstacles: Root exposure, Deep ruts and erosion, Brush and/or other growth, Baby heads and/or rock gardens, Drops, ledges, jumps, Water crossings
Help Needed? Yes, a little
Even more info: Flathead National Forest Doris Creek Trail #295
Directions to Trailhead
From the town of Hungry Horse, follow signs to Hungry Horse dam. Cross the dam and proceed approximately 4 miles on the paved road (Forest Service road #895 / West Side road) to Doris Creek road. Turn right on Doris Creek road and proceed approximately 2 miles to the end of the road. The trail begins to your right up and over a gravel berm as you get to the end of the road.