Ape Canyon - Trail, Cougar, Washington

Ape Canyon - Trail, Cougar, Washington

DESCRIPTION

Approx 3miles of quite steep climbing on singletrack through old growth forest, leading to singletrack through plains of abraham. This is as close to riding on the face of the moon as you can get. The trail is well traveled and well packed. Views are gorgeous from beginning to end. Pack lots of water.

USER REVIEWS

Showing 1-10 of 20  
[Aug 04, 2014]
Steve
Weekend Warrior

I rode the trail on 2 August 2014. I started at the Ape Canyon Trailhead, across the Plains of Abraham, to the Windy Ridge Observatory and then to the Smith Creek Trailhead.

First, I can't empahsize to bring enough water and food if you are going to do the 30 mile loop and a water filter of some kind.

The Ape Canyon trail is a steady and solid climb up like everyone says. But the Smith Creek trail was a bear to descend. The soft pumice and narrow paths had me riding my brakes all the way down. When I finally got to the Smith Creek Trailhead, I found out that the bridge on the map was out and I had to cut S x SW a mile to get across the river bed.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mountsthelens/recarea/?recid=31640

Once across the river I found FS 8322 easily enough, but it's a three mile hike all uphill! I missed that on the maps.

Bring water, eat food on the trail, bring a water filter. I wouldn't have had the struggle I did if I had more water to drink.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Sep 22, 2009]
Ben S
Cross Country Rider

Started at the Ape Canyon Trailhead and biked 5.5 mile up a long moderate climb with switchbacks, to the intersection of Loowit Trail. We then road another 1.75 miles on Loowit Trail across the Plains of Abraham (well worth the extra couple miles, it really is like biking on another planet). The views were stunning the entire way up, and the skinny single track was KILLER the entire way down.

That said, I recommend NOBODY bike this kick a** trail that is only a 2 hour drive from Portland, nobody!

Customer Service

Ape Canyon Trailhead out and back

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Aug 17, 2009]
jarredjackman
Cross Country Rider

Road Ape Canyon to Smith Creek 8/17/2009, really is one of the best trails I've ever done. Ape Canyon is in great shape, smooth, buffed, Smith is more primitive but still amazing and well worth the trip. It's a challenging trail, but if you think riding 30 miles is fun and you like challenge, this trail won't feel as hard as all the descriptions make it out to be.

Similar Products Used:

Lewis River, Falls Creek.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
3
[Aug 11, 2008]
cowabr
Cross Country Rider

Rode on 8-9-08. The road to drive all the way in to the Ape Canyon where you would normally park to start your ride is still closed. You have to park at the lot on FR83 approximately 4-6 miles from the trailhead due to the road being washed out. There are plenty of other cars there on the weekend so you shouldn't have trouble finding where to park....and the parking lot is a large one. It is a fairly easy pedal on paved roads but plan on the extra 12 miles total to your trip. As I mentioned, it is a fairly easy pedal though. Once you get up and down the trail, it's all worth it! The first 3.5 miles will test your legs and lungs. There are a few places just after the ridge and just before the Plains that you will have to hike, but they are very short walks. Overall, it's beautiful and you can't get much better than this for scenery!

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Jul 20, 2007]
sakura10
Weekend Warrior

This is an update to Brain's update which was very helpful. I rode this trail on the 15th of July '07. You can park at the Marble Mtn. Snow Park Parking lot. From there its about five miles on paved forest road to the Ape Canyon trail head. This road has some stretches of sand, and a few washouts. It also offers great views of Mt. St. Helens and the lahar. The link below should take you to a pic of one washout that hasn't quite taken the road out yet.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v484/sakura10/riverroad01.jpg

From the trail head, you run into some early fallen trees and washouts. Then you climb and climb and climb. The single track is full of loose rock and sand early, but later turns out to be pretty manageable forest floor. A thick forest canopy provides shade and reveals glimpses of the valleys below. As you get further into the forest, the flies start getting thick.

In fact, the flies were my greatest motivation to keep climbing. If you stop to rest, they become unbearable. Blooming mountain flowers and miner's lettuce lines the way up the mountain side to reach the beginning of the Plains of Abraham. The total distance and climb from the parking lot to about 1 mile into the Plains was 8.25 miles and 1,651 feet.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v484/sakura10/Abraham05.jpg
I chose to turn around early, when I ran out of water. I packed about 1.5 liters in my camelbak. If I were to try it again, I would bring a portable water filter to refill at the tiny glacial streams at the beginning of the Plains.

The ride back was some great downhill action. The flies couldn't keep up with me then. A long cool downhill ride awaited me after the ape trail back to the parking lot.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v484/sakura10/sthelenlahar01.jpg


Customer Service

See Brain's review below. I would recommend packing lots of water and taking the time to soak in the views. Don't forget your tools. My chain bounced off the bottom ring on the way back and got wedged into the frame. It would have been a long, dark, walk back to the parking lot if I didn't have my tools.

Similar Products Used:

Lewis River, Siouxon Falls.

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
4
[Jul 08, 2007]
Brain
Cross Country Rider

Just an access update. Noting that there is signage on the road indicating that Lava Canyon was closed, I stopped by the Mt. St. Helens HQ to ask about it. Evidently the road was washed out last November and will probably not be repaired until next year. While the Lava Canyon hiking trail is closed due to damage that has created treacherous conditions, the Ape Canyon trail is open. However, because of the washed-out road, the closest parking is at the Marble Mt. Sno-Park, about 3 miles from the trailhead (this would be 3 miles uphill on single-lane asphalt). I did not ride up there yet this year, but the Forest Service staff indicated that the Ape Canyon trail has been checked out & is passable.

I think that this is probably the most awe-inspiring ride in Washington. Begins with about 5 miles, mostly uphill, through the timber along the Muddy River, then up & down across the Plains of Abraham & along the ridge to Windy Ridge.

Customer Service

Some common MTB book features this trail starting Windy Ridge, going down Smith Creek, then up the road 5 miles, past the Ape Canyon trailhead and up the trail to Windy Ridge.

This is all backwards. This is much better as an out-and-back from the Ape Canyon trailhead to Windy Ridge & back. Smith Creek loop is long and adds nothing to the trip (unless you enjoy the initial 3-mile downhill through constant pumice switchbacks) but a long climb at the halfway point, just enough to spoil the pleasure of the spectacular views as one traverses the Plains of Abraham.

Masochists may well differ with me, though.

Similar Products Used:

Lewis River is very nice.

NOT the trail connecting the Ape Canyon trail to the June Lake trail. While it is spectacular, it is almost vertical in places, and when we tried it a couple of years ago, we ended up walking our bicycles almost 5 miles.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Aug 30, 2006]
dean.gaylor@hp.com
Cross Country Rider

First two miles gained about 1600 feet - steady climb on single track with good riding surface. The first few miles are in the woods, with occasional vista's to unbelievable canyons.

When you get above the tree line, it's worth a ride through The Plains of Abraham, but the pumice rock and larger bolders can force you to dismount and walk.

Turnaround when you get to the ladder - it's not worth it. Too much work to come back up it.

Customer Service

Ape Canyon + Plains of Abraham

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Aug 24, 2006]
Charles
Cross Country Rider

This trail has it all. Incredible scenary, great climb in the beginning, and a nice descent back to your car. It's amazing that you can bike at the base of Mt. St. Helens. The change in the environment is incredible from the old growth forest to the moonscape in the Plains of Abrahams. Check out this website for more picts: http://www.anthonysloan.com/Washington/ape.html

Customer Service

Bring lots of water. I recommend going up to the northeast side till you get to the stairs before the double track. Also be careful and mindful of all of the hikers on this trail. By far this is a well used trail so keep your speed down esp on the downhill. Also bring your camera. The views are worth it.

Similar Products Used:

Sioxan creek, Lewis River, Tarbell trail

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Apr 22, 2006]
ujelang
Weekend Warrior

There's nothing like riding in on the shoulders of an active volcano with evidence all around that this is an exciting, live always changing mountain. Before the summer of 2005 I didn't realize that lupine has a wonderful sweet aroma. The Plains of Abraham were full of blooming lupine that was so thick it was almost a sea of purple. While cycling thru the lupine I felt I was with Dorothy, but instead of poppies, it was purple lupine. There are easy sections of trail and there are sections that will be challenging. Brush up on your geology, and learn about the 1980 eruption before riding up here, knowing a thing or two about the geology of the area will make you appreciate more what you are riding on. You will be able to see mudflows, lava flows, lava domes, lahars, on this trail. Just remember to STOP and enjoy the views no and then.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
[Jun 30, 2004]
Kelso Jack
Cross Country Rider

I reviewed this trail exactly one year ago. We rode the 26th of june last year as well. Refer to last review for details. I just had to add that never have I seen such abundance of wildflowers. Some hill sides totally covered. From the moment we got to the plains all the way to Windy Ridge. Everywhere you looked blooming wild flowers. Just thought I'd let you know. Have fun enjoy the ride, bring your camera. Hope you catch the tail wind on the way home through the plains, what a blast. Happy Trails, Jack

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 20  

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