The Grinder Trail - east leg, is a more recently built section of the trail; extending the overall length of The Grinder for about a mile. Just like the rest of The Grinder, it's demanding.
The trail travels through a dense forest of evergreens. For cyclists, on a bright sunny day the contrast between sun and shade can make it challenging to see. Slow down and take your time. This segment of the trail does get out into the full sun, for a little while at least. It is out in the open where it passes through a drainage that gets pummeled with powerful avalanches.
(Tip: Pick up a free paper trail map at the lodge's bike shop before you head out onto Galena's trails. If you are not familiar with the trails at Galena, or aren't following someone who is, the trails can be somewhat confusing, especially if you don't stop at the system's well-signed intersections. Stop at intersections and consult your map to stay on your desired track.)
To get to the eastern end of The Grinder you will want to work your way to Spring Creek Trail. From the lodge, take the two-track that leads behind the lodge and over the hill to Senate Meadows. Stay on the main road (Senate Meadows Road/FS Road #404) and head up through the meadows. Look for the sign on the right directing you toward the Senate Meadows Loop Trail. The intersection you are looking for is about 0.9 miles from the lodge.
Turn right, off of Senate Meadows Road onto the signed trail toward the Senate Meadows Loop Trail. You will quickly arrive at an intersection of trails. Turn left onto the Senate Meadows Loop Trail and climb gently. Cresting, and at the next intersection (about 5 berm-turns up), take a left to cross Seanate Meadow Road/FS Road #404 and immediately arrive at another intersection of trails. Turn right and follow the signs pointing the way toward Spring Creek Trail, soon passing behind the Miners Yurt. After the passing the yurt it is less than one-half mile to the next turn, a hard left at an intersection signed for Spring Creek (left) and Spur Trail (straight ahead). Turn left toward Spring Creek Trail. In about another half-mile turn left to gain the eastern end of The Grinder. Climb on!
The north section of The Grinder Trail includes the oldest section of the trail, which runs high in the woods; through drainages that plunge down the western flanks of the Boulder Mountains. Much of this older portion of the trail was built by Rob Landis, back in the late 1980's and early 90's. Rob worked for Steve Haims, who owned the lodge back then. Steve did an incredible amount of work transforming Galena into a recreational destination, including starting to develop the area's potential as a hub for a network of expanded summertime trails.
Back in the day, the old mining and logging roads at Galena were used by mountain bikers, but not much. Some of the two-track roads were approachable, but many were so steep and worn-out that "the going" wasn't too pleasant. For Galena riders, the building of The Grinder Trail, a section of quality singletrack, was a welcome addition to the offerings there. The hand-construction of this classic section took several summer season's to complete.
Getting to the north section of The Grinder:
You can approach the northern, older section of The Grinder from either direction, or hit it in the middle. If you want to get to the more easterly side of this more central and northern section of The Grinder, utilize the notes above for getting to the east end of it, then proceed west to get to the eastern side or this "north and central" section of The Grinder. Or hit the northern/central/older section of The Grinder in the middle - see below:
(Note - approaching the Grinder near its mid-point is not a very popular option, but some people like to get on it there, as doing so allows you to proceed on it to the east, or to the west.)
Hit it in the middle:
To get to the trail near its mid-point, in the most direct manner, follow the main two-track road (Gladiator Creek Road #189) that heads north out of the far end of the main lodge parking lot. Stay north and up the Gladiator Creek drainage at intersections. At the end of the road you will arrive at the road's intersection with the Grinder Trail.
To the left, The Grinder leads west, toward the Horse Creek side of things. Once down lower in the Horse Creek drainage the trail changes to newer construction as it heads toward Psycho Ridge Trail, which allows for a drop to the lodge area.
Going to the right, at the top of the road in Gladiator, takes you east on another legacy section of the ol' Grinder, then onto a new section built in 2016. This newer portion leads to the Spring Creek Trail, which can be taken in either direction. Taking Spring Creek to the right will get you back to the lodge more directly - it takes you to the trails running through Senate Meadows, which can be used as a link to the lodge area. Take Spring Creek to the left if you want to take-in a good portion of the popular Spring Creek Trail.
Riding The Grinder as part of a long loop - clockwise:
Head up the two-track road mentioned above, or take the Lodge Loop and Gladiator trails to get to the Outhouse Loop Trail. Climb up Outhouse and then head west, then south on the Psycho Ridge Trail. Psycho follows a ridge south, dropping to its intersection with The Grinder Trail. Turn right to gain the start of clockwise travel on The Grinder. At this point you will be on a newer section of The Grinder, built in 2015. Climbing up in this direction takes in some rock outcroppings and other challenges. Use your map and follow the signs at intersections to stay on The Grinder Trail.
Continuing in a clockwise direction, The Grinder Trail passes two intersections with the lovely Pearl's Trail, then The Grinder continues up into the forest to make a long traverse to the east. This higher, more northerly stretch of the trail is an old portion of the trail. Parts follow old road-cuts and other parts are along sections that are tight and twisty hand-built singletrack. All of it includes a lot of ups and downs. On this section you may notice remnants of the mining activity that went on here in the 1880's. Please slow down at gnome crossings.
Now on a more northern section of The Grinder, the trail traverses below the Boulder Mountains and passes through the Westernholm and Gladiator drainages before reaching a crossing of Senate Creek. In this drainage the trail breaks out into the open below towering Galena Peak. After the creek crossing, stay left at the trail that is known as Horsefly Hill. This will keep you on The Grinder. Horsefly Hill is often used as part of the Galena Grinder-Whit Henry Memorial Mountain Bike Race. Horsefly Hill is named for the bugs that try to bite racers climbing this extra tough trail. You will be at the top of it, but you get a glimpse of its infamous grade, as you pass by.
Staying on The Grinder, you are once again on a newer section of the path. The alignment climbs up and down through many large undulations before settling down into a more traversing character. The trail passes through some nice stands of timber and also through an impressive avalanche shoot. The power of the avalanches that run down it are evident in the surrounding landscape.
This portion of the Grinder Trail leads to Spring Creek Trail, which can be taken right/northwest to link in to Spur Trail and down to the trails in Senate Meadows. You can take the Senate Meadows Loop in either direction to head back toward the lodge, but things can get a little confusing on the many trails and intersections at Galena. Stop at the well-signed intersections and consult your map. There are many road and/or trail options that lead back to the lodge.
Traveling The Grinder as part of a long loop - counter-clockwise:
To make a counter-clockwise loop utilizing The Grinder, you have several options. You can stay on the Gladiator side of the trails to get there, or head over to the Senate Meadows area from the lodge - to use the roads and trails over that way, to get to the more easterly end of the Grinder Trail.
Gladiator approach - Take the Lodge Loop Trail north out of the far end of the parking lot and then stay right at the first intersection onto Gladiator Trail. Take the next right to climb up Rip and Tear. At the next intersection of singletrack trails go left to follow the signs toward the Spring Creek Trail. Follow signs at intersections that direct you toward Spring Creek Trail. After passing behind Miner's Yurt keep an eye out for an intersection while descending. At the next intersection (easy to miss) make a hard left to stay on Spring Creek Trail (Spur Trail goes straight here - toward the trails in the Senate Meadows area). In another half-mile or so you will come to the intersection with the Grinder Trail. Turn left to get on it. Intersections are signed, so just stay on the Grinder for about 11 miles and you'll be back near the lodge. Once back near the lodge you will meet up with Psycho Trail. Take a right on Psycho - downhill to the Lodge Loop. At Lodge Loop Trail head right to cross over Gladiator Creek on the log footbridge. It's a short roll down to the the lodge and your completion of the loop.