Last week Jojo was out of town when I rode this on my own, and I loved it. Just east of Bloomington, the north fork Salt Creek, which meanders down the wide valley from Nashville and beyond, turns south and cut through the ridges towards Lake Monroe.
We rode out 446 and then along Kight’s Ridge to Duke Road. The first mile of the road is well paved asphalt, but very narrow compared to most. It runs along a quiet farming ridge, but with a number of new houses as well. But then the road ends drops all pretense of 20th century progress, and in its precipitous descent goes from gravel to dirt to bedrock. This is the wildest downhill I have found yet, McGowen Road is all gravel (in the summer), and longer, you can get going too fast, Duke is more like riding down a creek bed, a ton of fun.
The first video was is pretty poor quality, but it gives a good feeling for the ride; the other I had Jojo take from above as I careened downhill.
We made it to the valley, Duke ends right where Salt Creek takes 90 degree turn to the south and winds through the delta to Lake Monroe. The valley floor is flat, and the DNR has created dykes all through the valley, making it one large wetlands for breeding and migrating wildlife. The area is closed starting on October 1 till late next spring. When the water is up at the lake as it was all summer, the whole area floods, closing both McGowen and Friendship Roads, which can be several feet under water. As the lake level goes down, the dikes hold the water and create dozens of small lakes and islands, perfect wildfowl habitat.
We rode across the dikes, but the majority of lakes were dry, and the DNR had cut wide pathways through the greenery that sprang up as soon as the water receded 2 months ago. We sing an old Ukulele Ike song called I’m Telling the Birds which starts “Through fields of golden flowers”, and riding in the lake bottoms was exactly that:
We stopped at the old Friendship Rd. bridge foundation, which we have seen before from McGowen Road, this time were on the other side of the Salt Creek. We rode around a bit more, and found an old duck blind, and like at many other state properties, a persimmon tree with the grass neatly trimmed underneath for easy pick-up of the ripe fruit.
We ended up on Friendship Lane (which is blocked to auto traffic), and just as we came out of the woods, we found some hunters camped out. It was not yet hunting season, but they were getting ready for the season, and it sounded like they had automatic weapons, we heard their drunken shooting in the distance. Not only is this area closed after Oct 1, but it could be dangerous as well, the hills will be filled with hunters for the next few months. The ride up Lampkins Ridge is a bit stiff, 150 rise in less than half a mile, but it is paved, and seemed fairly easy after pedaling through grass, stone and mud for the past couple of hours. Lampkins Ridge is 3.8 miles long, and is a great easy ride. I could see riding it back and forth a few times and getting some fast miles, I’ll definitely be riding here again.