Suntop -> Skookum Flats Shuttle

Ripping enduro descent followed by a technical pedal.

Mountain Biking Difficult

Distance
23 km
Ascent
528 m
Descent
1.3 km
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
637 m
High Point
1.6 km
Gradient
10˚
Suntop -> Skookum Flats Shuttle Map

This fantastic shuttle ride is an absolute sleeper hit and sees relatively little traffic. Yet it's well worth putting on your to-do list!

Description

After catching a shuttle up the two wheel drive mountain road, you'll most likely be stopped at a gate. From here, you have the option to climb a steep 500 vert to the very top of the Suntop Bald, or to simply begin the shuttle route down the mountain. Even if you begin by going "downhill," you'll start with a moderate climb and will eventually gain the top of another ridgeline.

Even though you begin by riding beneath dense trees, the trail will eventually pop out onto an exposed part of the ridge. Look for a small side trail, which will take you up to an incredible view of Mount Rainier in the distance! Very few mountain bike rides in the USA provide views this magnificent of a rugged, glaciated mountain. Rainier is truly a sight to behold!

After soaking in the mountain views, it's time to grip it and rip it! The Suntop Trail offers a blistering descent down smooth, loamy singletrack with long sightlines and massive straightaways. You'll find yourself whipping at mach chicken beneath the towering canopy of a classic PNW rainforest, blasting down the mountain, hooting and hollering the entire way!

A few climbs will punctuate the descent, but they are all over quickly.

While the Suntop descent is easy to navigate, connecting to Skookum Flats proper can be difficult. The upper section of Skookum Flats, which seems so obvious on the map, is less than obvious when on the ground. Be sure to try to follow this route as mapped, and eventually, the trail will get easier to follow as you reach Skookum Flats proper.

Skookum Flats is a strange combination of flowy machine-built trail and rugged, rocky, old school singletrack. A few features must be walked either uphill or downhill. Yet, the landscape this trail traverses is incredible, as it winds its way between a near-vertical mountainside and the rushing glacial melt in the river just below.

The descent on Suntop is remarkably smooth and non-technical and would only warrant a "Moderate" rating. And while most of Skookum Flats is relatively non-technical, there are a few dramatic rocky sections that would warrant a "Severe" rating. However, since those are so few and far between, and can be walked relatively easily, I've rounded this entire ride down to a "Difficult" rating.

Note that it is possible to complete the Suntop descent on its own without tacking on Skookum Flats. Skookum Flats is a very convenient and beautiful addition, but for sheer downhill ripping, you can simply drop a shuttle vehicle at the bottom of Suntop.

Difficulty

Difficult

Mostly stable trail tread with some variability featuring larger and more unavoidable obstacles that may include, but not be limited to: bigger stones, roots, steps, and narrow curves. Compared to lower intermediate, technical difficulty is more advanced and grades of slopes are steeper. Ideal for upper intermediate riders.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September, October

Features

  • Flow
  • Shuttle-run
  • Singletrack
  • In the forest
  • Roots
  • Rock Gardens

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area