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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We rode the Smith Creek Epic Saturday. Parked at Windy Ridge and rode back down the road a mile or so to Smith Creek Trail then down the wild Smith Creek to Lava Canyon Trail then up the hidden road (hard to find but great once you find it) to Ape Canyon Trailhead. From here 11 miles of insanely cool riding up the Canyon Trail then across the Plains of Abraham to Windy Ridge and the car. We didn't see Carlo up there; must have been too late in the day when we got up there. 25 miles and 4300' of climbing for the loop. It's like getting two rides in one day! We took 7.5 hours for the ride car to car and took a LOT of pictures and spent much time gawking at the scenery. To the guy who reported doing this ride in 4 hours--yea right! This is definitely one of the best rides I've ever done; as mountain bikers we are fortunate to have such an amazing ride available to us. Thank you Mt. St. Helens National Monument!

Getting ready at Windy Ridge, not a bad view to start the ride..

Surfin' the pum down Smith Creek...

Kenny keeping it tight down Smith Creek

Shoes back on after fording Smith Creek...

Starting up Ape Canyon Trail..

Nice smooth singletrack for the soul...

Climbing onto the Plains of Abraham--too cool!

And another...

Riding dreamy terrain..

On the Plains of Abraham

Might as well be on the moon... Mt. Rainier in distance...

Climbing onto Windy Ridge--Descent down Smith Creek Trail is marked...

Windy Ridge greatness...

Looking back on Windy Ridge...


Overall this ride rocks! Only three hours and 135 miles to the trailhead from Seattle via Puyallup, Eatonville, Elbe, Morton and Randle route. Done as a day trip. Less miles than the drive to Devil's Gulch.... GOOD mexican food at Jaliscos in Morton. Go get it!
 

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Yup, tough to beat that loop on a clear day...
Although, If I recall, and as Skookum may have pointed out on the Ape Canyon post, that's probably Mount Adams to the South. Not Rainier, as you posted. Still seems like a long day for a day ride. I usually stay and ride Lewis River the next day for a real "ying-yang" weekend.
Desert Saturday, lush rainforest Sunday... yummy.

It was once rated in BIKE magazine as one of the top ten rides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Borneo said:
Yup, tough to beat that loop on a clear day...
Although, If I recall, and as Skookum may have pointed out on the Ape Canyon post, that's probably Mount Adams to the South. Not Rainier, as you posted. Still seems like a long day for a day ride. I usually stay and ride Lewis River the next day for a real "ying-yang" weekend.
Desert Saturday, lush rainforest Sunday... yummy.

It was once rated in BIKE magazine as one of the top ten rides.
Sorry Bob but that's definitely Rainier. Picture taken heading north. Adams is east of St. Helens. Hood is south. I should know I've climbed them all before many times.
 

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gearz said:
Only three hours and 135 miles to the trailhead from Seattle via Puyallup, Eatonville, Elbe, Morton and Randle route. Done as a day trip. Less miles than the drive to Devil's Gulch.... GOOD mexican food at Jaliscos in Morton. Go get it!
Y'know i was thinking that shaves an hour and a half off the time to get there if you start on that side vs. the Cougar side. i always prefer to end the ride with a descent. But thinking about doing that epic that way makes more sense since the Plains is such an easy climb, you can take your time and soak it all in.
hmmmmmmmmmmm.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Skookum said:
Y'know i was thinking that shaves an hour and a half off the time to get there if you start on that side vs. the Cougar side. i always prefer to end the ride with a descent. But thinking about doing that epic that way makes more sense since the Plains is such an easy climb, you can take your time and soak it all in.
hmmmmmmmmmmm.....
Exactly. That way you save the best for last. We did the ride as a day trip because the approach from the north via Randle is so much quicker than driving around to the south. It was a fun change of pace to start the ride with a great downhill. Now I'm pumped to go back and do a ride in the Mt. Margaret backcountry; most all of those trails are open to bikes and it looks like some awesome riding terrain around there (just north of Spirit Lake). Too many rides, not enough time!
 

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Awesome post, and great pictures. That is a must do ride this summer. Is it miserably hot thru the Plains of Abraham? Looks like it's worth it either way. Thanks for the pics.
Sasquatch
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Could be...

Sasquatch said:
Awesome post, and great pictures. That is a must do ride this summer. Is it miserably hot thru the Plains of Abraham? Looks like it's worth it either way. Thanks for the pics.
Sasquatch
It could be pretty hot up on the Plains but it was perfect for us. It's usually windy up there also but you never know. Not much water up there either. Ape Canyon Creek has water at the crossing just before you get to the Plains of Abraham, the water is quite turbid however and it would be best to filter it before drinking....There are a few creek crossings right before the drop down Windy Ridge with yummy water but at that point you're nearly back to the start of the ride if you begin at Windy Ridge Viewpoint.
 

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Nice pics

Wow, great pics. I live a 1/2 hour from the ape canyon trail head I haven't even ridden it yet this year.

Did you have to do some wading through streams at the bottom of smith creek? I know some of those crossings are pretty primitive.

We usually end up doing this ride for Pedal the Pinchot later in the summer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
northwestmud said:
Wow, great pics. I live a 1/2 hour from the ape canyon trail head I haven't even ridden it yet this year.

Did you have to do some wading through streams at the bottom of smith creek? I know some of those crossings are pretty primitive.

We usually end up doing this ride for Pedal the Pinchot later in the summer.
Yes there are two crossings of Smith Creek that are tricky. The first one we managed to find a way across without getting wet (barely); the second is further downstream and that one was definitely a ford all the way. Water was only mid-calf deep and not too cold, actually it felt good to cool the feet on a hot day. The crossing of Ape Canyon Creek is doable on a log. The entire Smith Creek Trail is kind of primitive, I don't think it gets a lot of use other than bikers doing this loop.
 

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Awesome pics. We have so many creeks and rivers here in NC that you get used to riding with wet feet. Don't even slow down most the time just full bore through them. Little Creek at Dupont is my favorite ford. Everyone that sees you do it looks at you like you are crazy. Point it up stream and pedal hard :)

I can beleive the 4.5 hour time. 25 miles is not that far and looks like you guys stopped a ton to take pics and take your shoes on and off.
 

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Mountain biking defined.

Great pics. I don't think you can pass up the picture opportunity when entering that knife like single track after climbing up the switchbacks . . .

I've only hit the plains from the small AC parking lot - looking forward to grinding the loop you rode including Smith Creek. Great post.

Ride on!

T-Rex
 

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Wandervans
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good pics and great ride

I did this loop by starting with the ape canyon climb with my buddy from portland, the downhill was cool although I wish I had not blown my hydralic fluid. I ended up descending smith river with only a front brake which made the pumice mighty intresting.

When we did this we came across some people climbing smith creek pushing bikes, I thought they were crazy trying to climb all that pumice.

Chris
 

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I grew up in WA. I think I tried to do that ride in 1998 or so shortly before I moved, but starting from the SE side. We parked near Lava Falls I think, and then rode up this long, steep climb that veered to the NE of the parking lot. It was a very hot day, and we blew through all of our water before we were finished climbing. We didn't see any creeks on the map, so we had to turn back- didn't want to get stranded without water! Is that the same ride? Does anybody have a link to a map? Is this part of the Loowit route?

I'm a better rider than I was then, so maybe I'll try it again this summer when I go back home to visit. I'll be there in early August. Anybody want to ride, starting from the south side (I'll be staying in the Portland and in the Battle Ground/Woodland areas). I'll probably only be free on a weekday though. I'd be up for an upper Lewis River trail ride, too, or maybe instead if it is a hot day. I haven't ridden that trail in about 12 years (since I was about 16), but I remember it was great fun!

Damn those pictures bring back memories. Can't wait to finally be back, and with my bike, this summer! (I went back last summer too, but only had time for one Siouxon ride and some riding around Sunset falls- there were nude models being photographed in Siouxon creek that day though, so it was a pretty cool ride :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Not sure where you were..

@dam said:
I grew up in WA. I think I tried to do that ride in 1998 or so shortly before I moved, but starting from the SE side. We parked near Lava Falls I think, and then rode up this long, steep climb that veered to the NE of the parking lot. It was a very hot day, and we blew through all of our water before we were finished climbing. We didn't see any creeks on the map, so we had to turn back- didn't want to get stranded without water! Is that the same ride? Does anybody have a link to a map? Is this part of the Loowit route?

I'm a better rider than I was then, so maybe I'll try it again this summer when I go back home to visit. I'll be there in early August. Anybody want to ride, starting from the south side (I'll be staying in the Portland and in the Battle Ground/Woodland areas). I'll probably only be free on a weekday though. I'd be up for an upper Lewis River trail ride, too, or maybe instead if it is a hot day. I haven't ridden that trail in about 12 years (since I was about 16), but I remember it was great fun!

Damn those pictures bring back memories. Can't wait to finally be back, and with my bike, this summer! (I went back last summer too, but only had time for one Siouxon ride and some riding around Sunset falls- there were nude models being photographed in Siouxon creek that day though, so it was a pretty cool ride :)
I don't see Lava Falls on my map. Coming from the south you could start the ride at either Ape Canyon Trailhead or down at Lower Smith Creek Trailhead and then do the ride from either of those locations.
Here's a link to a ride description which also has a map (not a very good one) but it will give you an idea where the ride is. Green Trails make maps of the area that show the route well; the two maps needed for the ride are #364 Mt. St. Helens and #332 Spirit Lake. I think you can buy these maps on line at greentrails.com. Here's the link http://www.nwsource.com/outdoors/scr/of_detail.cfm?category=biking&rt=41382
 

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Partners

Anybody from Seattle area interested in hooking up and heading down for this ride sometime soon? I have a very flexible schedule, and Ford truck for transport.

PM here if interested and will respond with contact information.

~ZDFG
 
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