Teanaway Highcountry

The Wenatchee National Forest south of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness offers a host of opportunities for mountain biking. In addition, the Teanaway Community Forest is adjacent to the south, and combined with the trails above Roslyn offers year-round riding opportunities.

49 miles, 11k elevation gain.

49 miles, 11k elevation gain.

Near the northern boundary of the forest with the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, a series of trails connect with each other and open up the possibility for an all-day backcountry excursion. Most trails in the high country are quite technical: roots, rocks, steep grade, or narrow tread on sloping bench cut are common. So if that’s what you like, and views and solitude are also of interest, this is a great area to visit.

Some trails in the Teanaway seem to be more popular than others. On this particular day, about 20 cars were parked at the Stafford creek trailhead, but in the past I’ve seen an even larger number of cars at the Esmeralda Basin trailhead. During the first 10:30 hours of riding, I met 1 group of hikers on the Teanaway Ridge, 4 groups on Stafford, and 1 guy camping out on top of Iron Peak. The ride then back went along a couple forest service roads and then over Iron Bear Creek back to highway 97. Again, on the trails I didn’t meet anyone, but saw many people in campgrounds along the way.

I started the ride at 10 am just off highway 97. The forest service road leading up to the Iron Bear trailhead is a nice warm up. The trail itself is a great climb, some parts are shaded by trees, some rocky stuff, almost all is rideable.

Along the Iron Bear trail with Teanaway Ridge in sight.

Along the Iron Bear trail with Teanaway Ridge in sight.

At the 4-way intersection with the Teanaway Ridge trail, I turned right: up towards Miller Peak. Views quickly open up from here on.

Teanaway Ridge trail.

Teanaway Ridge trail.

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Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Mt. Rainier in the distance.

It was a very warm day and I was very cautious not to exert myself hard. I ate chips, drank water, and just afterwards, had a bit of a dizzy spell. Whoops, held on to a tree and kept from falling over. It went away in a few seconds – and luckily I would be fine for the rest of the day. Not sure if it was the heat or having just eaten something that caused it.

Lots of climbing in the beginning, with a quick downhill in the middle that ends by going down a pile of rubble.

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Mt. Stuart in the distance.

Long rubble chute.

Long rubble chute.

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The County Line trail around Miller Peak was a treat, as always.

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My next goal came roughly into sight along the west side of Miller Peak. The Stafford Creek trail goes up behind the first range in the picture below.

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A long downhill and a snack break were had going down the Miller Peak trail. The lower portion was a big soggy, but better than usually. All the trees had been cleared from the winter, which was nice.

At the Stafford Creek trailhead were a ton of cars. I only met 4 groups of hikers on the trail, so there must have a been a lot more people higher up to experience the wilderness together. The trail is quite techy to ride, but it’s mostly riding, not hiking. Yum!

Stafford Creek trail.

Stafford Creek trail.

I wasn’t quite sure yet if I wanted to ride up all the way to the pass (before it enters Wilderness), but at the first opportunity to take the trail less traveled – I did indeed take it. Standup trail was one level above Stafford Creek in terms of steepness and rocks. Maybe 2 levels up. Higher up, the views opened up the north where the Stafford Creek trail goes. Looks beautiful – I must take it someday.

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Standup trail - if you're riding on a horse you probably need to stand up a lot. Ditto for mountain biking.

Standup trail – if you’re riding on a horse you probably need to stand up a lot. Ditto for mountain biking.

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At the saddle are a nice viewpoint and camping spot. After heading down a few switchbacks, the trail intersects with the Bean Creek trail and heads up the next ridge towards Earl Peak.

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Down Standup trail.

Hence I came from.

Up the east side of Bean Creek trail.

The Bean Creek trail down from the ridge is extremely steep. I had to walk a few times. My rear brake was making an awful sound all day, but now it was particularly bad. I think the metallic break pads are responsible for that which I had swapped in from my spare parts bin. I am back to the resign-based version next week. But, another noise was coming from the rear wheel: a bit of a griding / crunchy. I was concerned about having a mechanical out this far, but it held / healed itself. Looking at this at home, I think the rubber O-ring on the freehub tore and let some dirt in.

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Looking down into the Bean Creek drainage. Trail to the lower right.

Looking down into the Bean Creek drainage. Trail to the lower right.

The lower portion of the Bean Creek trail was a fun downhill – lots of rocks and roots, and down near the river it got downright tight in places. At the intersection with the next trail, I looked at the watch. Hmm, almost 6 pm. Ok, if I turn around now, I’ll be back at the car at 9 pm. And if I were to add on the next singletrack section up to Iron Peak, it’d probably be 11 pm. That’s too late. Ok, so lets go back. And with that rational decision made, my bike mysteriously turned right: up the Beverly Turnpike trail towards Iron peak. It was a very nice trail to ride in the beginning, before heading through a bunch of gravel slides. The Beverly creek valley is big, as if carved by a glacier. I was impressed by the views and the geography. It’s quite different from other parts of the mountains that are much smaller in scale. Here is a big open valley similar the ones I saw in Idaho last year.

From whence I came along the Beverly Turnpike trail.

From whence I came along the Beverly Turnpike trail.

Headiong towards Iron Peak.

Headiong towards Iron Peak.

The Beverly Creek drainage from the Iron Peak pass.

The Beverly Creek drainage from the Iron Peak pass.

A bit more riding and pushing up higher, and finally I found a place void of ants where I could rest properly. And enjoy the view without swatting insects.

Almost to the top of the pass where the Iron Peak trail heads just a bit south to the real peak.

Almost to the top of the pass where the Iron Peak trail heads just a bit south to the real peak.

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“Bill Peak” I believe this is called, just east of Teanaway Peak.

Note that spire in the back - called Volcanic Neck.

Note that spire in the back – called Volcanic Neck.

At the top of the pass, I finally met a hiker: he was out with his dog for an overnighter. We had a nice chat and he was telling me a lot about routes, the geography, and various mountains around us. The thing that stood out most to me, was the spire in the picture above. It’s surrounded by pretty loose rocky, so that needle is made of some different material. It’s actually the remnant of an old volcano, called Volcanic Neck. Very cool – I had no idea there were other older volcanoes in this area besides the big ones with snow on them.

The Iron Peak trail down from here to the North Fork Teanaway river was long and rocky. It wouldn’t have minded either, but my feet and hands were really sore from the barrage of bumps all day long. I took 3 breaks to shake out my hands and give my feet a rest, too. Whoot. Nice views, though, when I took my breaks.

Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Took the forest service roads back to the Iron Bear trail, where another big break was had. My bread was starting to taste really sour and sort of disgusting to me. But, it did fill me up. It was getting dark, and with the last big of daylight gone, I rode and pushed up and over the Teanaway ridge, as per usual.

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Big ride – lots of good trails.

49 miles, 11k elevation, and 13 hours later, I was back at my car. GPX track.

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One Response to Teanaway Highcountry

  1. Pingback: Earl Peak and fall scenery | 2wheeltrails

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