Kachess Ridge with Thorp Creek and Knox Creek trails

Went out last weekend to see the fall colors up in the Cascades. Rode up Kachess Ridge and saw lots of bikers coming down, and lots of mushrooms. Some looking eatable and fresh.

Yummy looking mushrooms on Kachess Ridge

Yummy looking mushrooms on Kachess Ridge

Nice view along the top of the ridge – though some low-hanging clouds cut off the horizon.

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Then, headed down Thorp Creek trail to Thorp Lake. Beautiful place.

Thorp Lake.

Thorp Lake.

Rode down Thorp Creek trail (great!) and then connected via some forest roads and Knox Creek trail back up to the ridge. The lower half of Knox Creek trail was rideable, the upper half full hike-a-bike. It was getting dark by the time I reached Kachess Ridge again and the wind calmed down. Beautiful time to be out, but it still makes me anxious to know that I am running out of daylight, even though I have a nice bike light with me. Not sure why that is. Took me over an hour to ride down in the dark. Very nice outing.

Click map for GPX track.

Kachess Ridge lollipop.

Kachess Ridge lollipop.

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Willows Fjords

Just a short ride report on this very small park near Redmond, WA, which is tucked behind some office complexes, has no views, and is a bit hard to find. Here’s the GPX track with a couple access points. Why bother, you may ask. Well, if you live nearby and enjoy steep climbs, tight switchbacks, and a few roots, this is the place to go for an hour-long ride. Thanks to the Evergreen site for posting this ride, I rode my fatbike there last month. Since I just got the wheels back for my fatbike from truing&tensioning by Perfect Wheels, I headed out there again. The wheels were great, even the odd disc brake rubbing is gone.

This trail system is so much fun. 1100 ft of climbing in 4.2 miles – all in a place the size of a peanut. The trails were in nice condition and I met the guy clearing them with a weed whacker.

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Icicle Ridge and 4th of July

This ride happened by accident. The plan had been to go on a big gravel grinder with Colin, starting south of Lake Chelan, but we never got to the starting point. Google Maps routed us through some odd overgrown single-lane forest roads on the way to Ardenvoir, WA, that I gave up on that. I sent a note to Google Maps to correct the routing problem. We’ll see if they respond.

The ride was supposed to be an easy technical – but big&long gravel grinder. Quite the opposite of what we ended up doing; but then the best laid plans of men and mice often go awry. Not always, but often. And definitely so in this case.

I had noticed the Icicle Ridge trail to consist of switchbacks up and then more switchback down on the 4th of July trail for a grand total of 15 measly miles. Since we were near Leavenworth and it was going on 10 am, I was intrigued to give it a try as we didn’t have time for a really long ride.

Summary:

15 miles, 8 hours and 6000 ft. of elevation later, one of us was very happy to be done:

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Here’s the story, of a couple bikers, who thought they’d just head out for a short ride. As it turned out, they were bamboozled, but kept on pushing their bikes.

The Icicle Ridge trail starts off just too nice. Beautiful, wide, smooth trail, switchbacks that are *just* rideable for the most part, and a few step-ups here and there for some added tech. All the while the trail goes up at ~15%.

Gaining height over Leavenworth.

Gaining height over Leavenworth.

After 1800 ft., the first overlook presents itself. Wow, perfect day to be out.
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A couple hikers mention to us that the trail keeps going up for much longer than it looks from here – and I was excited to find out what they meant by that. This is the ridge line where we are headed to next, and it is much higher than what it looks like in the picture.  I don’t know why it looks so low in the picture.

Icicle Ridge

Icicle Ridge

The trail immediately goes down a notch in terms of maintenance, and a notch up in steepness. Hike-a-bike becomes a lot more frequent the higher we get.
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Finally, we reach the first plateau and take a lunch break. The sun heats our backs and the air is dry and almost a bit chilly when a slight breeze comes.
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The trail is then occasionally rideable. And the landscape is completely transformed compared to the low-lands. Arid, like the Southwest, not like the lush Northwest. Rocks, gravel, grasses, shrubs, and burned trees that shine silver.
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The bit of rideable trail was followed by another steep HAB. Oh ja.

Colin is carrying his bike. Pushing a bike is harder than carrying it in this kind of terrain.

Colin is carrying his bike. Pushing a bike is harder than carrying it in this kind of terrain.

But then, the trail levels off again and we ride along the fairy-tale landscape of Icicle Ridge. All ails are forgotten.
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Even a creek (probably Power Creek) was running.

Filled up with water at Power Creek – was a bit surprised to find good water up here.

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Then we took another break at an amazing overlook. We were at 6400 ft. and below us was Leavenworth at 1300 ft. Incredible. It was hard to take pictures that really showed what it’s like since the contrast was very high. But, here are a couple attempts:
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We traversed the ridge line for another 1.5 miles (some smooth sailing, some pushing), and then stopped for another snack break. We were starting to get hungry and a couple sandwiches were consumed.
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Looking towards the Steward Range.

Looking towards the Steward Range.

Mt. Adams in front of us along Icicle Ridge.

Glacier Peak in front of us along Icicle Ridge.

Then, the descent on the 4th of July trail began. It’s immediately steep and filled with techy rocks. Yum. Then I fell over. Then my rear wheel busted a spoke. Colin repaired it by saying: “You’ve got plenty of spokes in that wheel, I think you’ll be fine.” So, instead of fixing it with my FiberFix emergency spoke, I just kept on riding. The wheel held fine, but it’s now at a wheel builder in Seattle for a rebuild.

A picture for the folks back home.

A picture for the folks back home.

The upper half (~2000 ft. ?) is quite overgrown. I carried my bike over my head in a few places to get through the shrubs.

Upper portion of 4th of July is ovegrown.

Upper portion of 4th of July is overgrown.

The lower portion was a delight:

I've got to ride more swoopy trails like this.

“I’ve got to ride more swoopy trails like this.” – Colin

We only saw one hiker coming down 4th of July.  Finally, 4 miles and 4000 ft. down, the single track ended this day’s main adventure. The stats don’t look like much, but boy, I tell you otherwise.
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A few quick road miles brought us back to the car.
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23 miles, 8:40 hours, 6300 ft. el., GPX track

I don’t understand why this trail isn’t ridden more. It’s an epic loop, and it’s on my do-again list.

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Basalt Ridge Ramble

A few days ago, I was pouring over maps and trying to come up with one last all-day ride before school (and fall weather) starts. In the wee-hours of the morning, a plan finally took shape of riding in the Entiat region of the Wenatchee National forest. Here’s a pretty good map of the general area. That plan never materialized, partly because of my 1 pm start (woke up at 9 am, 2+ hour drive), and partly because my Garmin somehow managed to loose the track that I had uploaded.

Instead, I stopped at a trailhead in the general area, which luckily had a topo map, and decided to just ride towards Basalt Ridge and see what is to be seen there. I hadn’t been there before, so it was exciting just to see the kind of terrain that is there.

I started at the Minnow Ridge trail, and a couple options presented themselves: ride Minnow Creek on what looks to be a decent grade, or push bike up some moto’ed out steep stuff. I went for the path of least resistance. The grade increased and there were a few steep spots, but mostly rideable including some odd-looking switchbacks. The trail surface was in good shape: a bit sandy, but nothing worse than 1/2″ and mostly less. After some pedaling, that got me to the Minnow Creek trail. There, a hand drawn map showed me how the various trails are connected and in what shape they are in. One idea I had was to ride Basalt Ridge to Garland Peak, but that appeared to be marked as “unmaintained”, and I put that idea on the backburner.

Hand-drawn map at the Minnow Creek trailhead.

Hand-drawn map at the Minnow Creek trailhead.

The Minnow Creek trail is all in the woods, so was very pleasant on this 75, 80F day with full sunshine.

Heading up Minnow Creek trail.

Heading up Minnow Creek trail.

Soon, I was at the intersection with Basalt Ridge trail, and instead of going up there right aways, I decided to make it a loop and take it down, first, and then up on the other side. The downhill went through more woods, just a view here or there, but nothing much to distract from the downhill.

Down Basalt Ridge trail.

Down Basalt Ridge trail.

To be honest, I was feeling a bit uninspired as I was riding down. After following a horse trail for a few minutes at the bottom, I got on the dirt road and when I saw a sign for Riverbend campground, I rode on in. Ooh, that was nice! I might have to come back here for car camping. 20 minutes looking up at Basalt Ridge, eating couple of croisssants and watching the river. Soul revived.

View of Basalt Ridge from Riverbend campground.

View of Basalt Ridge from Riverbend campground.

I was keeping pretty close taps on my water supply, as I was intending to do some ridge riding next. 2 liters left – no problem. The Basalt Ridge trails are closed to motorcycles, so the trail surface is sure nice in places. The Rock Creek trail goes up the western side, and its really beaten up by horsies – just powder, deeper than the MC trails. Oh well, just keep pedaling through it.

Rock Creek trail

Rock Creek trail

Soon, the turn-off for Basalt Ridge came, and the trail improved immediately. Wow – perfect singletrack climbing – lots of switchbacks – and covered by trees. All downed trees  had recently been cut. I only stopped at one overgrown section and bend a few branches back. Otherwise, this trail is a gem – all the way to the top.

View of Chikamin Ridge.

View of Chikamin Ridge.

Somewhere up near the top the trail got a bit technical - pretty fun stuff.

Somewhere up near the top the trail got a bit technical – pretty fun stuff.

Basalt Ridge trail up high.

Basalt Ridge trail up high.

A big fire has just scorched the southern side of Basalt Peak and turned it into a moonscape with charcoaled trees.

Burned trees on Basalt Peak.

Burned trees on Basalt Peak.

The surface of the Basalt Ridge trail heading south was quickly eroding after the fire, and after some 100’s ft. downhill, I had enough and went back up and down the other side.

Southern downhill on Basalt Ridge trail eroding after the fire.

Southern downhill on Basalt Ridge trail eroding after the fire.

Going down the way I had just come up seemed a bit lame, but oh was it fun! That’s the right way to do this mountain now as an out and back. The views were also not bad, and I could see some of the trees turning colors.

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Trees turning color in September.

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Wildflowers in September?

Wildflowers in September?

I took the turnoff for the Basalt Pass trail down – not for the faint of heart. It starts off with a couple big drops and then has many very steep features. I walked a few, but also rode more than I would have expected to. Average of 19% downhill grade: 16 minutes of butt way behind seat – kind of riding. Then, I checked on the Chikamin Tie trail, but got tired of riding the ORV trail, it was getting late, and hence took the dirt road back to the car.

I am not totally enthusiastic about this area for mountain biking. The ORV trails get old after a while and it’s all in the trees. Hardly any views. The Basalt Ridge loop is great, for sure, but I am not sure that I’ll even attempt the Chikamin/Maverik Saddle loop that seems to be well known in this area as it looks to be 40 miles of roller coaster MC-style rutted trail in the woods. Or perhaps, I just didn’t see the best parts, yet.

31 miles, 6700 ft, 7 hours. GPX track

Good exploratory outing.

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