Burgeoning Mountain Biking Mecca
When my husband Toby and I, both avid mountain bikers, moved to the Wenatchee area ten years ago, we lucked out. We were quickly connected with a group of riders who met weekly to ride locally. Although the group has since dissolved, through it we became familiar with the many trails in the area and I’m grateful to call several previous members my good friends. Sometimes it’s hard to move to a new town, meet people, and feel at home. Biking opened the door for us and immediately made us feel welcomed into the community.
Now, we have a son who loves to mountain bike as much as we do. It took some adjusting when he was younger – we started out towing him in a bike trailer, graduated him to a strider bike, and eventually figured out a way to tow him up hills using a spare tube between the bikes so he could go on any trail with us. At age eight, he’s now an adrenaline junky who can keep up with us on any terrain.
One of the many reasons we love the Wenatchee Valley area so much is that that we are able to bike from early spring through the fall. The area is rife with amazing trails and several well-developed skill parks.
Legendary cross-country trails:
When I’m in the mood for a legendary ride, Devil’s Gulch, outside of Cashmere, is one my favorites and considered one of the premier rides in Washington. It starts with an eleven-mile climb up a forest service road from the parking lot — that’s what we get for living in a valley, the trails always start with a devil of a climb! However, once you get on the single track, it’s pure heaven. Usually dry and hard-packed, the trail combines long sweeping turns through old growth timber and scenic meadows, sharp switchbacks on exposed, rocky side hills, and multiple crossings of Mission Creek. It’s fast, flowy, and full of adventure.
In the spring, I love to ride the Sage Hills trails. They’re close to town, convenient, and spectacularly gorgeous in wildflower season. There are many trails to choose from and almost all of them provide expansive views of the Columbia River and endless rolling fields of yellow arrowleaf balsamroot and purple lupine in the spring.
Other trails of note are: Xanadu (downhill with highly technical sections), Freund Canyon (especially beautiful in the fall), Ancient Lakes (often rideable into the winter months), and Twin Peaks (several options of trails in the same area). Check WenatcheeOutdoors.org and Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance for trail details and conditions.
Stevens Pass Bike Park:
Stevens Pass Bike Park, which is currently the only lift-accessed downhill mountain biking in Washington, is the best place to get an adrenaline hit. You load your bikes on a specially equipped chairlift and hitch a ride to the top for a gravity-fed, thrilling descent.
Prior to the bike park opening, we would need to drive up to Whistler B.C. for a similar experience. Now, in less than an hour, I can be chasing my husband down series of jumps on their freeride trails. I love the prickling fear in the pit of my stomach as I reach the lip of a jump, the moment of serene silence as I’m airborne, and then the unholy rattling of my bike as I touchdown and the chaos resumes.
It’s always fun to explore their ever-growing number of singletrack and freeride trails. The trails are buffed out, big fun, cover a wide range of skill levels and riding styles, and my whole family enjoys them!
Pump Tracks and Skill Parks:
In the last few years, the valley has seen the development of several more skill parks. Pump tracks and skill parks help build bike handling skills, are a fantastic workout, and most importantly are great fun for all ages.
The Leavenworth pump track is perfection. It’s a continuous loop of berms and rollers that bikers ride by “pumping” or shifting their weight in conjunction with the contours of the course, with the ultimate goal of not having to pedal. Trust me, it’s a workout. As a family, we love challenging ourselves to see how many circuits we can make in a row without pedaling. That number is laughably low at the beginning of the season.
Squilchuck State Park also has an excellent skill park that includes gap jumps, drops, balance beams, and slalom practice features. Practicing skills is the perfect cap to a family evening of riding on the adjacent trails. We’re fortunate to be surrounded by such varied (and ridiculously awesome) biking options.
Some days I want to huck myself off a jump and pray that I land wheels down. Other days I’m perfectly content riding my mountain bike on meandering flat trails or even paved paths. Either way, the Wenatchee Valley has me covered.