Wanted to provide as much beta on this killer riding area as it was surprisingly difficult to find info on conditions, level of difficulty, best places to start etc. Of course, maybe there's a reason it's hard to find good beta ... those who ride here want to keep it to themselves! Or, not many people ride it :)
We rode Kettle Crest South on Sunday, followed by a section of Kettle Crest North on Monday. Overall, trail conditions were fantastic, with only a single downed tree on the southern section. We camped right at the trailhead at Sherman Pass, where there is a single campsite perfect for two tents with nice fire pit. Weather was pretty ideal. 60s during the day, probably upper 30s at night.
Kettle Crest South: started from Sherman Pass and rode clockwise around Sherman Peak and then out to the Snow Peak Hut. This entire stretch of trail is super fun. There are definitely some more technical sections, so while the entire trail was easily ridable for our group, I would rate it as intermediate - advanced. Heading south from the hut, trail conditions as good/ok ... it sees FAR less traffic from here until White Mountain. (We didn't see anyone). There are very few flat sections of trail here ... it is constantly up and down ... but it's beautiful and pretty remote. We eventually got to White Mountain, enjoyed the views, turned around and headed back to Sherman Pass by continuing clockwise around Sherman Peak. Note: while there were quite a few hike-a-bike sections on the way back, it was far quicker. https://www.strava.com/activities/718161880. Tip: if you have two cars, park one at the Jungle Hill TH and drive, and start, back up at Sherman Pass. This will allow to add the Sherman Pass Trail, which is a really fun descent down to the Jungle Hill TH.
Kettle Crest North: Awesome! Started from Sherman Pass and followed the Kettle Crest trail north to Wapaloosie Mountain. Two of us continued on for another couple miles before a flat and time constraint required us to turn around. We descended Wapaloosie trail to Albian Hill rode and up Sherman Pass Trail back to Sherman Pass. NOTE: we meant to ride Jungle Hill trail down but it wasn't marked so we rode right past it. The entire section of Kettle Crest North that we rode was, IMO, beautiful riding. The trail is a combination of smooth & fast but also a lot of fun, ridable, technical rock. Similar to the Southern section, it is all up and down although the North is pretty much all rideable. https://www.strava.com/activities/718161865. We didn't see any signs indicating the trail further north was closed due to trail damage from a previous seasons fire, but according to the ranger station in Republic, it's closed beyond Old Stage Trail. Can't confirm nor deny.
Would love to ride the entire Kettle Crest trail from south to north. Next year ...
Maps: it seemed frustratingly difficult to find comprehensive trail maps of the area. Oddly enough, right at the trailhead there were detailed PAPER maps of both the north and southern sections with all trails and spurs. I'll see if I can photograph and paste one here.