This route is within the Bighorn National Forest on some fast, hard-pack dirt and gravel with spectacular views of the Bighorn Mountains.
We felt like we had this giant, peaceful and scenic playground nearly all to ourselves! We were told by our campground host that this was “ATV country”, but we saw no more than two or three ATVs all day long and there was incredibly low car traffic.
Leaving from our campground early, there was plenty of shade and lots of animal sightings. We saw a momma moose and her baby, a giant herd of elk, a doe with an adorably spotted bounding baby, woodchucks, rabbits and a coyote.
The lollipop has a little more technical terrain, with rolling and punchy hills and a little bit of rutted double-track. It also had flowers galore in the summer months and truly epic views of Black Tooth Peak and the rest of the Cloud Peak Wilderness.
Depending on your sense of adventure, this might not be a low at all, but at about mile 30 there was a water crossing (water was about 3/4 the way up our shins when wading through, but it did not have a current and was not too sandy on the bottom, so it can probably be ridden if you want to get you feet and chain wet). This was immediately followed by a very steep hill that caused us a short hike-a-bike moment (.5-1 mile long). It is totally worth it for the over-all fun and beauty of this loop!
Even though we left early, the day heated up (in mid-July) and the same roads that were shaded in the morning were in the full sun. We were certainly hot, tired and ready for a beer after all that hard climbing!
Do this ride if you want an epic experience of 100% gravel, climbing, views and animals in the beautiful and quiet, low-traffic Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming.
There are vault toilet bathrooms at Coney Creek trail head (mile 13.5 on the way out and 44.7 on the way back).
Besides the bathrooms at the campgrounds and trail head mentioned above, the are NO services or places to restock food/water at all, and there was very limited cell phone service. We took two water bottles and a small 1.5 liter Camelbak, brought our water filter (although we didn’t need to use it), and stayed hydrated and fueled/caffeinated by Skratch Labs.
The terrain before the loop is generally packed, smooth and fast dirt. Once you are in the loop, the terrain does get a little more varied- slightly more rocky, sometimes rutted dried mud and some loose gravel. Our usual tires, 700x35cm Panaracer Gravelking SK+ Tires (set up tubeless and pumped to 35 psi), were perfect for this ride.
The loop of our lollipop route is part of The Dead Swede’s 100 mile course, although they start from Sheridan, WY. In 2021 it occurred on June 5th. 2022 date TBA. (There is a 100 mile course, a 60 mile course, a 40 mile course. and a 20 mile course.)
We started this from the Tie Flume Campground where we camped. You will also pass by and could alternately camp at the Dead Swede Campground.
Laura Karpinski and Rose Barcklow are the creators of Gravel Bike Adventures. Click on the About page to learn more about them.