It’s a disaster. If you are hiking, it’s not so bad. If you are riding, it’s not merely challenging, it’s dangerous. The place has suffered serious neglect, so unless you are a fan of self-abuse, don’t waste your time riding on Crystal Bay Trails out at Thunderbird Lake.
Here is one from about a half-dozen dead trees blocking the trail. This one was on the so-called “easy” loop. To be honest, you would be hard put to know for sure where you were, since at least half the trail markers are missing. There was once a bunch of maps posted on large signboards out on the trail, but one was scratched and unreadable, and another was missing altogether. This link shows you the official map, and without it you’ll get lost. After sampling the outbound leg of the green, yellow and red loops, I knew there was no point in going any farther. As it was, from the junction the backside of the red loop was obscured and I ended up on the blue loop headed down “Huffy Hill” the wrong way.
That was so badly washed out it was life-threatening to ride, so I dismounted for large sections of it. I did find my way back to the red loop by accident, partly because the rest of the blue loop was blocked by a log and appeared to be unused altogether. Again, if you are hiking, it’s not too bad.
The sand out here is fine silt. What you see in this image showed up every hundred meters or so on the “easy” trail. You cannot ride through that stuff; it’s up to ankle depth in some places. By the way, if you want to fix stuff like this, try chipped wood mulch. Throw down a heavy layer, turn it under with a shovel, than add another heavy layer on top. After the next good rain go out prepared to add another layer. After that, it should be good for years to come.
I didn’t mind the frequent heavy drops from tree roots, but you’ll notice in that second image, that greenery hanging over the edge of the trail? Some of it is poison ivy. It was everywhere and the trail is quite narrow in places, so you can’t avoid it. When I got home I washed my legs in cool water with a bleaching scouring powder (like Comet) and a soft scrub brush to minimize the effects of such exposure.
Given the complete absence of maintenance, I’d say you shouldn’t waste your time trying to ride the Crystal Bay Trails at Lake Thunderbird.