Salem Lake Trail General Riding Conditions

Trail is surface is mostly hard-packed finely crushed stone with a hundred yards of pavement on hills on both sides of the dam. Trail on south side of the lake has more hills, steeper hills, fewer straight sections, more obstacles, and during the winter, due to receiving less sunlight, it is wetter and softer than the north side. The trail has two-way traffic so it has two unmarked lanes of travel. In most places, due to high traffic in both directions, the lanes are easy to discern since a ridge of sand and gravel builds up between and the lanes and on the outside edges of the trail. Things to be aware of while using the trail:

Year round

  • Fallen twigs, limbs, and trees
  • Any steep hills have a sharp turn at the top that is usually steeper than the rest of the hill; be prepared to downshift if needed. You will be traveling slowly near the top of the hill so a downshift may be a problem for novice riders.
  • Loose sand and gravel collects along outer edge of the trail and makes it slippery.

Spring


  • Leaves start to block sightlines in curves.
  • Young animals running across the trail.
  • Trail starts getting less sunlight.

Summer

  • Lots of shade means cooler rides, even on hot days.
  • Rain-washed ruts, standing water, and soggy surface.
  • Fluctuating, filtered light through tree cover makes it difficult to see obstacles and other trail users.
  • Moving from a bright sunlight stretch into shade causes low visibility for a few seconds.

Fall

  • Fallen leaves hide obstacles. Leaves are slick, and they are very slick when wet.
  • The long curvy paved counterclockwise downhill on the north side of the lake near the dam will become completely covered by leaves in the fall making it difficult to know where the pavement edges are located.
  • In curves, obstacles hidden by fallen leaves, slippery leaves, and high speed may be dangerous.

Winter

  • Snow, ice, and frozen or soft ground.
  • Ruts caused by cyclists riding on soft ground.
  • On nice warm days after a thaw, you will find the north side of the lake to be dry since it get lots of sunlight. However, the south side of the lake gets less sun and will be very soft and mushy; it is similar to riding in wet sand at the surf line at the beach.
  • On the good side, due to no leaves on the trees, you have good sightlines around curves, you see more of the lake, and you get views of the city skyline.

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