|ONE DAY in 2000, a maintenance truck encountered a lone mountain biker peddling up the Tower Road on Galbraith Mt.
The guys in the truck were used to this -- they had seen countless mountain bikers -- but they had never seen anything quite like the apparition on the road ahead of them now.
The solitary rider had a small trailer attached to the back of his mountain bike, where nearly 65 pounds of concrete blocks were stacked.
"Boy you're a glutton for punishment," one of the maintenance crew guys chuckled out the window as the truck drew close.
"Actually, I'm going to use the concrete blocks on a trail I'm building," the rider replied cheerfully. "I want to try to use them to control erosion on a steep section."
Thus was born the trail called Wonderland, and the insto-legend of Wonderland as well.
OPENED IN May 2000, Wonderland quickly became the preferred route down from the Towers for many riders until it was destroyed by logging in 2003, along with two nearby trails, the old Tower Trail and the Polaski.
But Wonderland did not die! In 2004, the WHIMPs' volunteer trail crew headed by legendary Galbraith trail builders Darren Clark (LEFT) and Scott Fleenor rebuilt the trail. The new Wonderland doesn't follow exactly the same line, but it's very close to the original Wonderland, and it has very much the same flavor and spirit.
Belles's original Wonderland had some technical moments, but it was not a super technical chamber of horrors. When he laid out the original line, Belles consciously tried to create a trail "that could be ridden and enjoyed by most mountain bikers, not just the top five percent."
Darren and Scott stayed true to this aim, and even took it a step farther. The new Wonderland can ridden both ways! Combined with Naughty Nellie, Wonderland provides a single track ascent all the way to the summit and the Towers. It also rides very well the other way too!
But Wonderland has its dark side too. The Sandy Stone on Wonderland -- created by a road cut for the logging that trashed the lower part of the original trail in 2003 -- is one of the deepest and most popular big drops on the mountain, and the stunt complex around it has grown steadily. There are now several drops, hip jumps, and a few rolling wall lines thrown in for good measure.
Discovered by Russ Barlow -- who was also the first man to hit the big drop there -- Sandy Stone Most riders just look with awe, though, and then easily ride around all the hideously scary stuff on Wonderland. This is worth noting. You don't have to ride any of this stuff if you don't want to. Of course, some of the ride-arounds on Wonderland are interesting in themselves.
There is presently a trail sign near the top of Wonderland, but it's nailed to a tree in the woods at the bottom of the first drop off the ridge line, so you have to know where to look to find the start of the trail. Here's the secret: Wonderland is the third trail on the left after the Tower Rd. turns into single track and drops over the roots.
Here's another tip: if you're coming down through the woods, and you come to a huge old growth cedar log lying prone on the forest floor, you're on the wrong trail. You're on Scorpion, not Wonderland. Climb back up the way you came until you can take a trail out of the woods heading the other way, where you'll soon see Lake Whatcome below (if you're lucky).
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