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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2 Responses to Basalt Ridge Ramble

  1. Igor says:

    It’s great they cleared the blowdowns. There were quite a few a couple weeks ago when we rode that trail. For Garland peak, it’s best to go up Chikamin tie and then push along the ridge to Garland peak and ride the steep downhill to Basalt pass.

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