Take I5 to 512, 512 to 410 (imagine you are going to Crystal Mtn.), follow 410 through Greenwater, turn left on FS 7310, iirc. Drive up the dirt road until you reach a gate. Even if it's open, park there and ride up. The trailhead is at the top of the climb (2.5k vertical feet later)
Summary: We started out riding up FS7174, about ~6miles up to the top of Noble Knob trailhead. The climb up was a grind--unrelenting uphill, a bit worse than the uphill to get to Suntop (another 'epic' just across Hwy 410). Once at the Noble Knob trailhead, there is a short section of hike-a-bike (maybe 150yds), then you will hit the nicely flowing singletrack. Watch out for hikers, there are plenty. The trails are marginally marked, as there are plenty of little detour trails branching off, but you can generally tell the main trail. Overall, this is a pretty fast flowing singletrack trail, with a few (I say about 3 or so) sections of hike-a-bike, including 1 section stretching for ~0.1miles next to a waterfall. During the day we went (we got a late start, ~3pm, and got done ~8pm with several breaks in between), it was especially foggy/low lying clouds, so we couldn't see any views, which I'm sure would have been spectacular.
There isn't much technical challenges with the trail, aside from some impossible switchbacks, and short sections of steeps. We followed Zilly's directions, that is, going up Noble Knob trail #1184 then to Dalles Ridge Trail #1173 then to Ranger Creek Trail #1197. We ended up at Camp Shepard, tried to link up to White River Trail, but got lost and ended up going down Hwy 410 back to our car parked on FS7174. All told, a 22+mile loop. The weather was cool (60's, 50's) and cloud covered, but if sunny and hotter, I would have definitely run out of water in my Camelbak 72oz.
These trails are similar to Suntop, with a dash of Devil's Gulch and a tiny bit of Skookum mixed in (when you hit the Ranger Creek trail).
Recommended Route: See above for the route. Also, off of Hwy 410, you want to turn onto FS 7174, not what the original poster recommended.
Other recommended trails in the same area: For a similar, and probably more challenging 'epic', I recommend parking at the Skookum Flats trailhead, biking up the fireroad to reach Suntop (and don't forget to bike up to the observation post--nice people usually staying there, amazing views of Mt. Rainier), going on Suntop Trailhead proper, and it'll spit you out eventually by the airstrip. Then link up with Skookum Flats to ride back to where you parked. 5+ hours of non-stop biking, you'll be exhausted!!
Or if you like grinding uphill/fireroads, I believe the Kachess Ridge uphill beats both of these!
Summary: Noble Knob trail in great shape !!! Only 3 or 4 blow downs on Palisades trail. Lots of fun roots and rocks on the Palisades beware of cliff but you usually see it coming. I always forget how many climbs there are in this ride. Too bad the last downhill is hike a bike. Switchbacks too tight for me.
Recommended Route: Don't park at FR7174. Park instead at Camp Sheppard and find trail 1199 White River trail to Buck Creek. Then White River trail to Ranger Creek trail. etc. This really takes some of the sting out of the up hill to the car after a long days ride. If you can find the trail head you could park further NW at trail head 1198 (Green Trail # 238 ) Makes for a longer start but a better finish.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Skookum Flats Ranger Creek and if you liked the cliffs on Palisades try out Mission Ridge :)
Review Date July 10, 2003
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Please Select
Reviewed by: Ken
, from Kent, WA
Summary: Don't under estimate how hard of a ride this is. Be prepared. We were very disappointed when we reached the start of the Ranger Creek trail. It is very obvious where the Trail Shuttlers start riding "DON'T SKID YOUR BRAKES". Up above this point the trail is in great condition. But after the start of the Ranger Creek Trail many of the corners have deep ruts before the corners, etc. Especially on the Palisades trail. This was very disappointing after riding the upper part of this ride. This is a very delicate trail in parts and must be ridden with care as to preserve it. We saw a couple of riders who couldn't believe that we made the climb to the top. Next time I think that I would ride Ranger Creek all the way to the bottom instead of taking the Palisades Trail. I that would still give you an epic ride but leave you closer to the start of the Corral Pass road. There is something to be said about earning the ride.
Recommended Route: Ride up the Corral Pass Road FS #7174 to the Noble Knob Trail #1184 to Dalles Ridge Trail #1173 to Ranger Creek Trail #1197 to Palisades Trail #1198 to White River Trail #1199 back to the start. 22+ miles for riding
Other recommended trails in the same area: I will Still give this ride 5 stars. The views are outstanding, take the time to enjoy it.
Review Date June 12, 2003
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Once a month
Reviewed by: Aaron
, from Seattle
Summary: Rode this loop after work on June 11th with my psycho cyclocross freakshow buddy. The Ranger creek climb is in great shape with only a few blowdowns that you are happy to dismount for. Palisades could still use some work with many blowdowns, but nothing that cannot be easily hike-a-biked. Be sure to bring plenty of water and a small flashlight if your going after work. The loop took us a total of 3 hours, about an hour 45 for the climb then an hour and 15 minutes back to Camp Sherman parking lot. The last 30 minutes was dark. Even in the dark with blowdowns this is one of the best and most grueling short 100% singletrack loops in the state. Ride on! The upper part of Noble Knob probably still has some snow now, but it won't be long.
Recommended Route: Park at Camp Sherman, Ride the Ranger Creek singletrack climb up to the Shelter then take a left and ride down Palisades and back to camp Sherman
Other recommended trails in the same area: Suntop, skookum, crystal
Review Date July 28, 2002
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Ridden Trail: Every few months
Reviewed by: Skookum
, from Seatac
Summary: I reviewed this trail earlier and need to edit my review. I wish this forum had that option, but oh well. Everything in my prior review substitute Ranger Creek with Deep Creek. Now for the Ranger Creek descent on this ride i will throw in my five cents. First of all i'm sick to know that I now pay 30 dollars for a Northwest Pass and I get sub-par maintenance for the trails. Some areas better than others, but the very fact I have to pay then gives me more than a right to gripe. Ok moving on Ranger Creek starts out pretty steep and inviting then gives you a bunch of switchbacks that unless you are a trials rider, you cannot make. If these were worked on a tad this trail could be continuous and a whole lot better(I mean just widen the corners just one more foot). After you get past that this trail is nice, and progressively gets more fun. It's smooth in sections to let go, yet technical in others to bring your skills out. Don't burn yourself out on the hill climb and have a blast, that goes for all these trails up here. Oh and for the guy who's back hurts... Dude don't be such a purist, get some suspension, it's the northwest for cripes sake! I'm in my thirties and i want to ride when i'm seventy, but unless I ride on plushy clouds, i'm not gonna make it and that goes for you too. Sorry but I just hadda throw that in there. I'm givin this trail a five again. Sorry for stuffin the ballot but hey if they had an edit option i wouldnt hafta.
Recommended Route: Like the zilly book but don't ingnore the first left if you are into technical dh runs. Watch for downed logs on Ranger, if they havent taken care of em by August they never will. Lame rangers, probably gettin a bug in there ear by Sierra club city stuckup hikers.
Other recommended trails in the same area: Every damn one of them!