March 10, 2016
Ride These 3 Popular Trails
By Steve Maher
Photo at right: A mountain biker rides through the wildflowers along the Sage Hill Trails. Photo by Frank Cone, courtesy of AdventureWenatchee
What mountain bikers appreciate the most about the Wenatchee Foothills are the buffed-out single track, the terrain that can accommodate different skill levels and the stunning vistas which allow cyclists to stop and soak in the beauty of the North Cascades and the Columbia River.
Not far behind come the wildflowers and the sunshine. And according to the Office of Washington State Climatologist, that’s close to 250 days of Wenatchee sunshine a year!
Located a three-hour drive east of Seattle, the Wenatchee Foothills offer 3,000 acres on the edge of the city which are available to the public for mountain biking, hiking, trail running and snowshoeing.
While the Foothills are not yet known as one of America’s mountain biking meccas, the area is increasingly drawing riders who come to enjoy its large and growing trail system in the Cascade Foothills.
“People are starting to get it,” says Charity Hervosma, a Wenatchee resident and member of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, a nonprofit which has played a leading role in developing new trails in Washington state.
Hervosma and her boyfriend, Matt Duffy, have been out on many trail-building work parties as members of EMBA. Duffy says some of the trails are family-friendly along the rolling lower sections of the Foothills, while others require greater strength and agility to quickly gain elevation. That mix also means there are constantly changing views and habitats, ranging from shrub-steppe to pine forests.
“You’re not riding on a road,” notes Hervosma. “For me, accessibility is really the biggest deal, the best feature of our trails. You can get there quickly, even from downtown Wenatchee.”
For a metropolitan area that now boasts a population of 70,000, that is, indeed, a great asset.
3 Popular Rides
Remember to ride safely, bring plenty of water and sunscreen and stay off muddy trails to prevent ruts and decrease erosion.
Distance: 2 to 10 miles
Elevation: 1,100-1,750 feet; overall elevation will vary
Terrain: Dirt trails, single-track, loop, out-and-back, along mostly rolling terrain
Best time to go: Spring through fall. Trails are closed Dec. 1 to March 31.
Things to know: No fee or pass required to park at the trailheads. Plan ahead; there are no facilities at the trailhead.
Highlights: The rolling shrub-steppe terrain offers stunning views of the Columbia River and the Wenatchee Valley along its loops and spur trails.
How to get there: From downtown Wenatchee, drive west on Fifth Street, which turns into Number One Canyon Road. There is a small, unmarked parking lot on the right corner of Number One Canyon Road and Sage Hills Drive. Ride north a quarter mile to the Lester trailhead. Another Sage Hill trailhead is found in a residential area off Day Road but only has parking for five vehicles.
Distance: 9 miles round-trip
Elevation: 1,750-3,100 feet
Terrain: Dirt trails, single-track, out-and-back, climbing terrain
Best time to go: Spring through fall. Trails are closed Dec. 1 to March 31
Things to know: No fee or pass required to park at the trailhead. There is a pit toilet at the trailhead but no other facilities.
Highlights: Owned by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, the 1,700-acre Horse Lake Reserve is a popular destination for mountain bikers.
The Apricot Crisp Trail allows riders to reach the 3,100-foot elevation summit via the Homestead Trail and the Old Wagon Road.
How to get there: From downtown Wenatchee, drive north on Wenatchee Avenue to the north part of town, take a left on Horse Lake Road and continue for about 3 miles to the Horse Lake Trailhead. After about a mile, the road is gravel and/or dirt, with a few hairpin turns.
Distance: 23 miles round-trip
Elevation: 1,750-5,100 feet with a 3,400-foot elevation gain
Terrain: Dirt road, dirt trails, single-track, out-and-back
Best time to go: Late spring to late fall
Things to know: Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking
Highlights: Devil’s Gulch is known as one as of the best mountain biking spots in Washington state. At the top, you will have incredible views of Tronsen Ridge and Stuart Range of the Cascades.
How to get there: From Wenatchee, drive about 12 miles north on Highway 2 to the town of Cashmere. Turn left on Cottage Avenue and head into Cashmere. Turn left on Division Street and follow it as it curves right and becomes Pioneer Avenue. Turn left on Mission Creek Road. You’ll come to a T, turn right and then left to get back on Mission Creek Road. Drive 6.2 miles; the road eventually turns to gravel. Go left at the Y onto FR7100 and drive another 3 miles to reach the trailhead, labeled as Mission Ridge FR7100.
Sage Hills and Horse Lake: evergreenmtb.org/trails/sage-hills
Devil’s Gultch: evergreenmtb.org/trails/devils-gulch-mission-ridge
Steve Maher is owner of Adventure-Wenatchee, a company that connects people and partners to outdoor recreation services in the Wenatchee Valley. Visit AdventureWenatchee.com