August 28, 2012
I rode/hiked this 13 mile out-and-back on a dry, warm August day, and its nearly 4,500 ft. of climbing nearly wore me out. It took me 3 hours to get up, and nearly 2 to get back down. On a better day I may have ridden more, but on this day I found myself pushing my bike uphill quite a lot.
Except for a few overgrown spots in the first mile, the condition of the trail was excellent. It's very smooth and very fast on all the downhill sections. There are a ton of tight switchbacks, but otherwise not much in the way of technical challenges. The expert/black diamond rating must be due to the physically demanding climbs.
Although I'm glad I rode it once, I'll probably never ride it again--at least not from the bottom up and down. I prefer one long grind on a logging road followed by miles of payoff in the form of a long downhill run on singletrack; or milder cross-country riding.
Oddly, I didn't meet a single soul the whole way. It's odd because this is the height of the riding season in what is a premier location for MTB in the West.
If you decide to ride this this route, take a pair of cut-offs with you. There's an excellent swimming hole under a bridge 1.5 miles downstrean from the Winberry Campground. Even in August the water's really cold--I just soaked my dogs and had a cold one.* Review edited 8/28/2012
I know of no other trail in this area with an elevation profile anything like the Divide Trail. It is uniquely tough.