Pre-Riding the Course

PRE-RIDING THE COURSE

Many sections of the course are NOT open to the public, which means it is not possible to pre-ride the course as a whole ride.  But there are many ways to pre-ride long sections, and below is a list of our suggestions.

When you get to Big Sky, the first thing you need to do is visit our local shops (Gallatin Alpine Sports or Grizzley Outfitters) and get yourself a copy of our Summer Recreation Map & Guide.   You’ll need this!

We’re going to do our best to give you good directions and instructions on how to find, park and ride these sections using a combination of Strava, Mountain Bike Project, and Trailforks.   We apologize in advance if it seems vague or difficult to follow!

The North Fork / Ridge Trail

Pre-Ride Length: 8 (as a loop from North Fork Trailhead)
Estimated Time: 1 – 2 hours

In Big Sky, there is a popular loop called “The North Fork Loop” (on Mountain Bike Project).   Only the climbing section of this 8 mile loop is part of our Biggie course, but the entire loop is super fun and we suggest riding it as a loop if you’re going to pre-ride the climbing portion.   In the second map image, you’ll see a blue line and a red line – the blue line is what is part of our course (ascent).

The descent (not part of our course) is definitely a “black”.   If you’re a beginner-intermediate rider, be careful, and you may need to walk some portions of the downhill section.   But once you cross the creek, it’s a super easy ride back to your vehicle.   We really do recommend this entire loop – some of the most scenic views in Big Sky!  If you don’t want to do the entire loop, you can always do the climb, and then just turn around and right it back down to your car.  But that’s boring.

Directions:

The trailhead is accessed via the North Fork Road on the north side of Lone Mountain Trail, just west of Lone Mountain Ranch’s entrance, and approximately 4.7 miles from U.S. Highway 191. Turn left onto Ridge Road after .3 miles and continue around a couple of bends.  Park here.

From the trailhead, bike up Ridge Road to the Ridge Trail.  It’s about 4 miles from the TH where you parked to the singletrack.   The Ridge Trail (singletrack) drops you out on the private Upper Beehive Loop Road.  Turn right, then pedal to the next road, turn right and look for the singletrack on your right.   Be prepared for a short section of expert, rocky drops and technical switchbacks winding through the flower-packed meadows.  The trail then mellows and joins the North Fork Trail for 3 miles of rolling delight back to the trailhead.

Mountain to Meadow

The Mountain to Meadow trail, aka M2M, is extremely popular in Big Sky.   And once you ride it, you’ll understand why.   It’s also easy to shuttle, which makes this an ideal pre-ride section for anyone who’s saving their legs, or is pressed for time.  The entire M2M descent is part of the Biggie course.

Ciara Wolfe, BSCO Executive Director, wrote a great article about this trail, and we recommend reading it for directions on how to access this trail: Mountain to Meadow Guide »

The Yellow Mules

For the 50 Miler Course only.

Pre-Ride Length: 18 miles (as a loop from Ousel Falls Trailhead)
Estimated Time:  3 – 4 hours

For the 50 Milers, you’ll be doing the Yellow Mules Loop in the race.  In the race, you’ll ride up Second Yellow Mule and down First Yellow Mule.  Your Aid Station #4 is located at the top of First Yellow Mule, aka the “Whiskey+Bacon Station”.

Directions:

The trailhead for this loop is the Ousel Falls Trailhead.   You’ll ride the Ousel Fall Trail to First Yellow Mule, then turn right onto Second Yellow Mule, ride that to Buck Ridge, and then take a left onto First Yellow Mule to complete the loop, and then take the trail back into Ousel Falls Trailhead.   Your pre-ride is essentially a lollypop.     This is approximately 18 miles with 3,000 ft of vertical gain.   We recommend riding this early in the day, as we tend to get storms with electricity later in the afternoons on a regular basis.   Bear spray or loud talking is also recommended.

Remember:  Ride UP Second, DOWN First

Helpful GPS Map Links:

Second Yellow Mule on Trailforks
First Yellow Mule on Trailforks
Second Yellow Mule on MTB Project
First Yellow Mule on MTB Project

Ralph’s Pass + Uplands

Pre-Ride Length: 6 (as a loop from Town Center)
Estimated Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours

We highly suggest pre-riding this.  It’s the final stretch of the race, and we think the difficulty of Ralph’s Pass may surprise some folks who didn’t save any gas for the end.  There are some technical switchbacks that require some serious power, which after 50 or 30 miles, you will have to dig deep to find.

Racers will ride Ralph’s Pass (eastward) to Uplands.  When you get to Uplands, you’ll go left, and descend some super fun, flowy singletrack to the Uplands Trailhead.  From there, turn right and take the pavement (Aspen Leave Drive) into the finish at Town Center.    A great way to pre-ride this would be to park at Town Center, and ride the Ousel Falls Trail to the Ousel Falls Trailhead, then get on Ralph’s Pass from there.

Ciara wrote a great article about Ralph’s Pass with some helpful information, which you can find here »