Ardenvoir – Lake Chelan loop

Last fall, I had planned to ride from Ardenvoir to Lake Chelan and back with Colin – but due to a Google maps navigation error, we never made it to Ardenvoir. We ended up riding Icicle Ridge and 4th of July near Leavenworth, instead, which was also epic, but much more strenuous and technical. This weekend, I really wanted to go on a long exploratory ride, so this seemed like it should fit. The drive to Ardenvoir is ardunous, 3.5 hours form Seattle on Highway 2. And Hwy. 2 is annoying and dangerous – not my favorite route to drive.

Upon arrival in Ardenvoir, I found out that my InReach was dead. I plugged it in for 20 minutes while I got ready. That brought the battery to 20% – good enough for an emergency. It was almost 11 am when I finally started riding. Good thing it was going to be light out for a while: sunset at 8:30 pm.

Arenvoir - Lake Chelan - Steliko Ridge loop.

Arenvoir – Lake Chelan – Steliko Ridge loop.

The beginning of the WABDR from Ardenvoir is paved. After a couple turns, the first major goal came into view: Mount Baldy.


Mt. Baldy in the distance.

Mt. Baldy in the distance.

Off to my right, I could see a bunch of trees on a ridge – keep this in mind as you’ll see them later on from the other side.


That fuzzy stuff on the farthest ridge are trees.

The road snakes around some hills and dips down a bit before actually climbing up Mt. Baldy. It was pretty warm and humid, so I was sweating a lot during the initial 2 hours of the climb. I met a group of 13 motorcycles and chatted with a few.20150516_114412_small 20150516_114459_small 20150516_120344_small

Heading up higher, it got cooler and made the ride quite pleasant. Not many trees nor shade along the way, but it’s fun to see where one came from – and where one is going. Some dark clouds showed where it was raining in the valley below.

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I was wondering how my water situation was and if I should be drinking less, when I ran upon this happy circumstance:

Baldy Spring

Baldy Spring

Yummy – filled up the bladder with a cool refreshment. Passing Mt. Baldy on my left, I got a first glimpse of the rest of my route: Lake Chelan. The road on the ridge to Stormy Mountain mostly follows an elevation contour so it is really nice riding. 20150516_143853_small

Towards Stormy Mountain.

Towards Stormy Mountain.

The pass near Stormy Mountain at 6100 ft. elevation was clear of snow, but just beyond it on the north-facing side were some snowy patches. The Devil’s Backbone trail starts at the pass, and it sure looked like an adventure may be found there without looking too hard.

Start of Devil's Backbone trail.

Start of Devil’s Backbone trail – which I did not ride.


Top of pass was clear of snow.


Some snow remains on the north facing portions of the road up to 1/2 mile below the pass.

The road then goes down for a while, before following the undulations of ridges almost to the edge of Lake Chelan. I had not studied the elevation profile carefully and was surprised by the amount of climbing that lay ahead before the final, long, downhill to the lake.

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This is the ridge that the Devil's Backbone trail traverses.

This is the ridge that the Devil’s Backbone trail traverses.

The WABDR route has an alternate route going down to Lake Chelan – which needs to be taken by cars and other non-bikes. The real route going down to the lake is pretty steep, overgrown, narrow, and rocky. I had fun riding it down, though. And the views were first class.

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Along the NF-125 portion of the WABDR.

Along the NF-125 portion of the WABDR.

Down at North Fork 35 Mile Creek, I filled up with ice cold water. 20150516_165421_small

Then it went down a dirt road, which turned into a paved road to Lake Chelan. Lots and lots of vacation homes, but hardly any traffic on this Saturday afternoon. My legs were hurting and getting tight, but I wasn’t hungry or thirsty and not sure what to do. I oiled my chain, instead, and that seemed to help 🙂 Maybe I should have stretched a bit. After a few miles along the lake shore, it went back up into the mountains. 20150516_170601_small 20150516_174740_small 20150516_181013_small

A little county road turnoff took me even higher as my energy level was near zero. I took 2 pretty nice breaks and then downed the 2nd instant coffee. That finally woke my stomach up and was able to keep going. It was getting near sunset time with quite a good breeze blowing.

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Remember that row of trees from the beginning of the ride? Well, here they are from the other side. Not too shabby of a little loop, I thought.


The Steliko Ridge is primo hiking & biking terrain: rolling grasslands overlooking the Columbia River. The Steliko Ridge trail is a rough 2-track for a while, then turns into single track, then 2-track, then single track, before finally remaining a rough and steep dirt road back into Ardenvoir. I thoroughly enjoyed this trail. It doesn’t seem to get much use, but I had a grand time riding it (mostly) downhill. It’s a first class trail and the scenery was great. I bit of night riding had me back in Ardenvoir at 9:30 pm.

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Steliko Ridge trail.



Steliko Ridge trail.

Steliko Ridge trail.

Steliko Ridge trail.


Great route for a cross country rider like me – nothing too rocky or technical.

70 miles, 10,000 ft. el. gain, GPX file

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2 Responses to Ardenvoir – Lake Chelan loop

  1. Ride ride ride, you must be very fit these days Martin.

    I went for a road ride up Mt Lemon with Mary Reynolds. The Chile at the Iron Door Cafe tasted great. It’s been a great May in Tucson. Coolest I can recall.


    • 2wheeltrails says:

      I think I am just beginning to explore this part of the Cascades. Today, I found the Summit Trail on the other side of Lake Chelan on my topomap, and it looks like some 1st class hike-a-bike can be had there.
      I was just thinking about riding Mt. Lemmon, today. So many options to go down – certainly worthy of a few times / summer. And the restaurants there are a good motivation, too!

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