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So I finally made the ride yesterday on Helens for the first time! The ride was fantastic, other than super hot (started at 9:30, should have started at at 6:30am), the bugs were unreal (not bad if you keep moving, but if you stop on the climb you were attacked by tons of biting flies) and lastly and reason for the post.... whats the best route down? I just did an O & B to Windy Ridge. How is the Smtih Creek downhill? I know the climb out can be grueling if you don't make the shortcut and I am sure this question has been asked before.
Thanks!
 

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I prefer the loop.The DH on Smith Creek is not for everyone.Loose,steep...my friends used to refer to it as "eco-challenge".I love it.Beautiful,dynamic...I could go on.Plus...you will not see anyone the entire time.Hard to beat that.I like the climb out too.You are under the canopy the whole climb out...mister sunshine will not add to the destruction.
 

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I pretty much agree with poppa, except for the climb out of Smith Creek, it's not really that bad, but I didn't enjoy it on a 32 lb bike.

As for which is better, it's hard to say...I love the return across the Plains and the decent down Ape Canyon is a lot of fun, but over way to quick. Smith Creek is in a league of its own, loose and a lot of steep switchbacks, which I like, but I really enjoy the trail around midway. The few log rides and that narrow washed out spine add a cool aspect to the trail.

I'd probably have to say the whole Ape Canyon/Plains/Smith Creek is the better way to go.

Plus, as mentioned earlier, if you ride the whole loop, you will see very few people.
 

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In and of itself, the climb out of smith isn't bad. It's not too steep and you can stay in the middle ring. But the grade never changes, and at the end of a long day on the trail, it can be really punishing. You can definitely miss it too if you haven't been down there. Make sure to keep your eyes out for it on the right after you hit the fire road in the open (not the one in the trees). But I sure did love the descent at the top and all of the great riding down in Smith Creek valley.
 

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So is the Smith Creek descent super technical and steep, or just enough to make it exciting?
 

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Sasquatch said:
So is the Smith Creek descent super technical and steep, or just enough to make it exciting?
Not really technical, but there's a trick. The surface is a deep layer of marble to golf ball sized pumice rocks--light and airy, they will suck your front wheel. You must lean back, unweight the front wheel and stay off the front brake. There are some steep pitches near the top with some tight switchbacks. Exciting:thumbsup:
 

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Sparticus said:
Why have I never done the Smith Creek loop?

--Sparty
I took a few Eugene types (Abe,Damien,Steve,Wes,maybe Boyd)on the Smith Creek ride a couple of years ago.I would be pleased to take some more of you folks if you are ever interested.Just bring Scott T.I am pretty sure that he may not have been up there yet,but I cannot be sure.The technical aspects of the descent are not intimidating as they might "sound".It's just not "buff" ST.I always bring beer.It's not my favorite SSPD ride ,but it is completely enjoyable on a single...fyi.Bring Taylor up and let's hit it.:D
 

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Sparticus said:
Thanks, mon. I'll try to remember to bring this up to Scott at the Post-Puff Party tomorrow evening.

--Sparty
Ask him about my purple towel...ha.No just tell him that Michael in Portland thinks that he is due for a trip up north.
 

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The way out is marked by a cairn and sticks pointing the way. It's hard to miss unless you've really got your head down. The descent is a lot of fun, sometimes there's a trail for you bike, and then a trail for your foot right above it from people leaning into the hill to make sure they don't fall. The ride down the creek is great too, the ground must be full of iron because the soil/rocks by the creek beds are all orange while the everything else is grey.
 

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Hello,
I am planning to do the Ape Canyon/Mt St. Helens trail when I travel in this area in two weeks. I would rather descend by another route than the one I climbed so Smith Creek sounds interesting. Is there a GPS file availabe somewhere for the loop? Thanks.
 

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GPS is for people who can't follow a trail, Evil. Live a little & just get out there. You can't miss the Smith Creek turnoff or the trail & the worst that will happen is you'll miss the last single track & have to pedal out 4 miles or so on a FS road to get back to Ape Canyon parking lot.
As Snake Muesl said, the pumice downhill takes a little technique. What works for me is not turning the handle bars much at all & just leaning the bike the way you want to turn. Kind of like steering an old-fashioned toboggan.
Have an adventure & have fun.

Bonus hint: Take a water filter with you & you can refill your hydration packs from Smith Creek.
 

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If I get my **** together I've got a gps map of the trail, but as gorgedon said, you don't need one, the trail is easy to follow. I guess at the first creek crossing you do have to just cross the creek rather than wander along it, but now that you know that, there won't be a problem. Even the route back out of Smith Creek is clearly marked with a cairn and some big (like 15 ft long) branches pointing the way. All I used the GPS for was to nerd out about how far I'd ridden and then obsess about how far back up the road it was to the parking lot.
 

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dawnchairy said:
If I get my **** together I've got a gps map of the trail...
Although I've been on Ape Canyon / Plains of Abe several times, I don't even know where Smith Creek is. If you wouldn't mind posting the GPS track anyway, I'd like to do a Google Earth "flyover" just to check it out. Thanks.

--Sparty
 

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Sparticus said:
I'd like to do a Google Earth "flyover" just to check it out. Thanks.

--Sparty
Google Earth flyovers are for sissies. Just close your eyes and visualize the journey.
 
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