Summary: A fairly steady, 4 1/2 mile climb out of the fish hatchery with a small waterfall, several campsites, and a few interesting views. This climb can lead you to either Cove Creek trail or the Daniel's Ridge connector.
Difficulty: All gravel road, no super steep sections or technical features to be aware of.
Length/Elevation Change: 4.5 miles of fireroad climbing, approx. 850ft of elevation change
Notable features: Cars
This climb is used to get to Cove Creek trail, but can also be used to reach Daniel's Ridge, although that is not the route I'd recommend. It can also be a decent gravel grind, with good views, and has several campsites along the way.
In any case, ride out of the fish hatchery and take a left onto the road.
As you ride along the road, take a right at the first gravel road you see. The gate may be open or closed, in either case, riding bikes up the road is fine. The roads close at the discretion of USFS, but is mainly to avoid damage to the roads by cars during the winter. This is Headwaters Rd (475B).
You can expect to be climbing on this road for a fair while, you'll encounter a waterfall, several campsites, and some interesting views along the way.
The waterfall is about 1.5 miles from the gate and is easy to miss during the summer, but there is an access path to walk up to it. You will often see cars parked here during the summer and there is a stone staircase that leads up to some signage on the falls.
Once you take in the falls, keep climbing up Headwaters Rd. You'll stay on 475B for around 3.5 miles, you'll pass a few other roads in the meantime, so be sure to stay on 475B (the path is fairly easy to see). Eventually, you'll reach a parking area and the road veers left.
Continue climbing for a while (it flattens out a fair bit) and you'll encounter another gate, which is usually opened, followed by the hiking only Sunwall trail on the right and a small parking area. For the most part, this indicates the worst of the climb is over.
The road continues to the left from the intersection/parking area shown here.
During the winter, this can be a good opportunity to get a look at Looking Glass on your right (it is much better in person):
Continue onward until you reach another parking area, where you'll also keep left and the road will turn downhill.
Once the road turns downhill, then you'll see this gate on your left:
Similar to the others, this gate is often open, but can be closed in the winter. In either case, ride around it, and know that you are almost at the end of the climb. Do not miss this turn and go straight.
After a short distance, maybe a half mile or so, you'll reach the following intersection:
This is where documenting Cove Creek gets a bit dicey. This intersection has a campsite on the left and another fire road, along with another trail. What you want to look for are those rocks in the center of the photo.
This is the first entrance to Cove Creek trail, but I am not sure if this is an authorized trail or not. There are built features (waterbars, etc), but it is considerably more challenging than the rest of Cove. We cover Cove elsewhere, but did want to point this segment out in case you wanted a more difficult route.
Instead of taking the rock ramp in the center there, continue downhill on Cove Creek road until you reach a gate on your left and the sign for Cove Creek.
Ride around the rock on your right and you'll be on Cove Creek trail, which ends this segment.
If you continued straight past the gate, then you will stay on Cove Creek Rd, which will dead end on the Daniel's Ridge connector after crossing a few bridges.
Directions: Park at the fish hatchery, then follow the directions out of the parking lot