In search of 50 dry miles

Another cold and wet Friday was forecast for Seattle, so off I went to the eastern side of the Cascade mountains in search of 50 dry miles and a sufficient number of vertical feet. With a bit of a late start, I was at the Freund canyon trailhead in Leavenworth by 11:30 am. Oh well, it’s my vacation day. I had planned to ride up the dirt road, but when I saw the downhill-exit of the singletrack loop, I couldn’t resist and headed straight up, going the loop in reverse. I did not encounter anyone, so all was good. Initially, there were just a few trees and branches in my way, with a couple small creek crossings and good steady uphill riding. The trail was free of snow, but a bit muddy in a couple places. The biggest challenge was getting past a couple big tree blow-downs. Some flowers were starting to come out – this must be an amazing little loop when the skys are clear and the trail free of trees.

8.5 miles, 1800 ft, 1.5 too-short hours. GPX of Freund canyon trail, this the reverse of what one should normally ride.

After that warm-up ride, I stopped by McDee’s and got a coffee and cookie. Ahh, what to do next? Across the street is Das Rad Haus, where a friendly mechanic revealed that my best option would be to head over to Wenatchee and ride the Sage Hills. I had read about the section on the Washington MTBR forum, but it looked too small to be worthwhile. Well, there were more trails than my GPS map has! Flowers everywhere, smooth singletrack and excellent traction: perfect for my hardtail pony. I stopped all the time to take more pictures, and after a while I justified it to myself that my goal was to take one picture of every type of flower. I think I did that. This ride was a great little number. If you are in the area and it’s not hot, go for it! It’s exposed: no trees. The trails open April 1 and close on Dec. 1. On the way down, I was getting hungry and a storm was brewing. So, I just shot straight down the way I had come up. Looking at the map now, I could have done a loop – but flying down a smooth dirt road amongst yellow flowers was also not too shabby.

15 miles, 3200 ft, 2.5 amazing hours. GPX of Sage Hills route

It was 5:30 pm by now, and after a quick stop at Subway, I drove an hour to Ancient Lakes for an evening / night ride. I had read about the area as being particular dry. And it was. Just like the prairie lands of Colorado. The trails were pretty beat up by cows /horses? I let out air of my tires a couple of times and then was on the verge of being happy; only bottomed out a couple times on the rear. I hadn’t done a propper night ride in some time, and with pleasant 60 F temperature, no wind and cool scenery, it couldn’t have been better. I was a little anxious at first after darkness set in, but my Superdrive XL has a very broad beam pattern so that after a while I forgot that I was riding in the dark. I did regret having ridden the last half in darkness as I missed some amazing lakes and canyons! Frogs were croaking very loud in one part, I heard water rushing in another – but couldn’t see enough to enjoy it fully.

13 miles, 1300 ft, 2.5 hours of bumpy night riding. GPX of route through Ancient Lakes

Summary: 3 nice trails to fill a day: 37 miles, 6300 ft. and tons of pictures. Alright by me. More miles will be had near Wenatchee when the snow clears off the low-alpine trails around mid-May / June – according to the bike mechanic in Leavenworth.

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