This sweet, 5.6-mile foothills trail of forgiving compact-dirt is a quick escape form the bustle of the city. A new trailhead off Collister Road provides closer-to-downtown access than the older trailhead off Cartwright. Whether you choose to run or ride, being mindful of the narrow trail will be a bit of a challenge when distracted by the great views that Polecat has to offer, particularly when the colors change in the spring and fall.
What Makes It Great
From the trailhead off Collister, head up through an old orchard and take a left at the first fork, taking the loop clockwise. The gentle incline helps get legs going without too much strain, warming up your body for the steeper climb ahead. Several long, lung-busting switchbacks bring you high onto the ridge looking north towards Hidden Springs and Bogus Basin in the distance.
At the first trail junction, go left for the longer 5.6-mile loop, switch backing along the ridge lines in an easy, fun descent toward the trailhead off Cartwright Road. Stay right to bypass the trailhead, then left at the intersection with Doe Ridge Trail to continue along Polecat Loop. A very gradual uphill paralleling Cartwright Road allows you to get some speed for a fun ride through bermed turns. Keep your speed in check and watch for sandy washouts that can sneak up. The climb brings you back around heading south to the intersection with the Quick Draw Trail. Continue straight and south to meet back up with the orchard from the start of your ride and the trailhead. Next time you head out, switch it up and ride counterclockwise for fun variety.
A shorter, 3-mile loop can also be made if, at the first junction going clockwise, you take a right on Doe Ridge Trail. Stay left at the second intersection to take Quick Draw down. Not yet included on the Ridge to Rivers map, the new trailhead at the end of Collister Road (including a pit toilet) provides easy access from town, and is often empty. Take Collister north to the end and follow the gravel drive to the parking area. The trail here parallels private property for a short distance as it meanders through an old orchard.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail would be challenging for a beginner and well-suited for an intermediate rider.