Distance: 11 miles
Altitude Change: 150′
This is the first mud season for Paradise Valley Conservation Area in Woodinville, Washington, after after six years of closure, and I decided to celebrate it, singlespeed-style.
The Park: Paradise Valley reopened last April after legal delays and competing visions by different user and conservation groups kept Snohomish County, which acquired the 663-acre tree farm property in 2000 to aid in salmon recovery, in negotiations for a while. But Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s hard work in trail advocacy and trail building and restoration has paid off in 11 miles of singletrack.
Conditions: Since it’s mud season, some fair-weather, fair-condition riders might let that stop them from hitting the trails. I recommend stripping things down and keeping it simple by taking shifting out of the equation. You needn’t worry about forcing your bike into a lower gear when you’re four inches deep in primordial ooze, praying your mud-encrusted drive chain holds together. Sling a leg over your singlespeed bike and forget about it.
The ride: The 11 miles of mostly flat to rolling singletrack challenge you with short, abrupt climbs that force you out of the saddle for a few power strokes, while logs, tree roots and built structures appear in front of you to continuously engage your mind and reflexes. The ubiquitous but ride-able mud becomes just another obstacle to power through or hydroplane over.
The circuitous network of trail can be a little confusing, even with the excellent signage, and this multiuse trail is frequently used by hikers and equestrians as well as mountain bikers. But it’s well-worth hitting the Southern Traverse and Lloyd trails, which have low-risk technical features, including low rampwork, log rides and teeters. They can be super fun, especially on your singlespeed. Because everything’s more fun on a singlespeed.
Directions: From Seattle, take 520 to I-405 north and take the exit for SR 522, heading east. Take a right at the first traffic light (Paradise Lake Road), and continue 1.8 miles until you see the sign for the parking lot on the right. 23210 Paradise Lake Rd Woodinville, WA 98077
Angela Sucich, Freelance Writer