This cool, man-made reservior trail is an easy, non-technical ride that has exhilarating, sweeping views of the entire lake. There are two options:
1) Park at the Visitor Center, and make the 2.5 mile uphill trek to the guard shack. Sign-in and ride FREE.
2) Pay the $7 parking fee per car, and ride the trail immediately.
-The best route to take is CLOCKWISE, around the perimeter of the lake. Fully paved areas over the three dams allow you to make 25mph sprints, on these wide roads. Get there before 12PM. The entire 23-mile trip takes about 1.5-2hours, depending on stops. Porta-pottys, covered picnic areas and trash drops are conveniently located throughout the trail.
Bring AT LEAST 2 LITERS of water! There are no water filling stations anywhere on the lake, and swimming is strictly prohibited(it's a water reservior!). Also, bring sunblock and enough clothing- as there is very little shade, at this lake. Pets are not even allowed there. Boat/Hike/Bike/Fishing ONLY!!! Leave the road bike at HOME. Some parts of this trail has lots of gravel- which would easily flat anything but a mountain bike. Otherwise, the trail is mostly flat, hardpack dirt. The rock quarry area(rock walls encased in chicken wire!) area allow you to sail though in low gear. Watch your speed in the sandy turns though! Remember, it is 23 MILES of continuous, uninterrupted pedaling. Pace yourself and take frequent stops, if necessary.
The best months to ride this lake, is from DECEMBER to MARCH. Otherwise the sun and heat in summer and fall months will literally ROAST YOU.
Summary: A group of 4 of us from BC and AB Canada rode the trail today while on vacation . We hadn't planned to do the whole trail but couldn't resist with the beautiful views. We are all 65+ and found the trail a challenge. Parts are a bit rough but definitely doable. We took 4+ hours. We all thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.
Summary: Took this trail with a buddy 2 weeks ago. It is a nice trail. Nothing difficult. Just a few rolling hills. Not well marked, though. At the beginning, right before the East Dam (heading clockwise), there is a spot where you need to veer to the right to access an enclosed trail route. Miss this, and you will find yourself heading down toward the visitor's center on Searl. Also- right after exiting the Don Owen Dam, There is a turn to the right leading you on the correct path. However, its on the left side of a large gate marked "NO TRESSPASSING." If you miss this, and continue straight, you will head down a very steep paved section that leads you down to a construction road. Not fun unless you want to pedal back up this steep grade. Other than that, The trail is well established fire road type hard pack. The dams are paved. There are shade spots and porta-potties every 5 miles or so. No water available on trail, so bring your own. Nice views of the lake. Nothing pristine, but nice. This is a great workout trail! I am going back this weekend, and will probably make this my main weekend workout trail, since it is 15 minutes from my house. I give it a three out of five because it lacks the scenery of some of the more pristine mountain trails, and because it costs $9.00 each time you ride (parking + trail use fee).
Recommended Route: I recommend clockwise, due to ease of parking, and because this seems to be the most used route. This minimizes the chances of meeting opposing traffic.