This one is on firelanes and your quads will be burning. This route will also challenge your route finding skills with all the twists and turns of an angry cobra. And it all starts with perhaps the longest sustained climb available in Forest Park on Saltzman Road.
Parking is available at the start/finish of the loop in a parking pull out on the north side of St. Helens Rd right across from where Firelane 1 emerges from the hillside in a meadow.
From the parking head out on St. Helens road, utilizing the sidewalk on the left side of the road, until it blends at highway 30. Stay to the left for the mile until Saltzman. You’ll see the street signs, start heading up Saltzman, at the first hairpin look up and to the left, that’s about where Firelane 1 crossed on the way down. Pass by Maple, Leif, and Wildwood trails. Keep going. It’s about 3 miles of climbing, the last 2.6 mi are beyond the gate so on dirt.
At the top of Saltzman get your downhill legs ready for your first Firelane of the day, Firelane 5 down to Leif, connect up with Maple for short stretch to Saltzman – don’t crossover and continue on Maple, that would be too easy, we are losing more elevation by going further down to Saltzman – but lucky you – only to the gate with Firelane 4. Gather your wits and head up Firelane 4, there are steep pitches with sticky mud at the best times of year, crossing over Maple still ascending, finally emerging on Leif for a brief respite before a gratuitous loop with extra few feet of elevation gain/loss . Turn left and jog to Koenig, at the bottom of which you will connect again with Maple and go right, back up the grade to Leif (weren’t we just here?). Say adios to Maple and take Firelane 3 up from here, it’s steeper climb anyhow. Take it all the way up, past some housing and tall fences, along Thundercrest until you get to Skyline Bld.
Left on Skyline, some of this has sidewalks on the right hand side that you can use, being careful when crossing traffic. At about Kelly Circle on the right, notice Firelane 2 on the left, with some cyclone fencing removed to allow you to pass. It goes surprisingly up, and at the top of this grade is the highest point of the route. Plunge down to Leif and stagger to the right until you get to Chestnut. Go up Chestnut to Wildwood, then stumble along Wildwood enduring that trails toughest climb up to Firelane 1 and keep going for another one of those extra devilish details. Proceed along Wildwood to the underappreciated Morak Trail and take it up toe Firelane 1, a bit higher than when you crossed it before, so now you are set up for a bit more descending than if you had bailed out the first time you crossed it, but now relax and enjoy this final descent; at Leif it turns to the left before continuing back down to the start, but not without some sneaky views of Hwy 30 and industrial area, and just for good measure some short rollers with narrow trail before popping out in a meadow across from the parking.
When to Do
Year round but especially nice with some rain to slick the steep sections.