Riding at Mt Saint Helens on the Ape Canyon Trail and Plains of Abraham is a pretty incredible experience. From old growth forest to riding across the destruction from its eruption there is something here that should move you as a human. I went out to Windy Gap onto the top of the Smith Creek trail before heading back. This video on the back portion of the ride. The views here absolutely amazing. Here is my blog post from that outing.
This video sit around for over a year as the audio was horrible. The Hero 5 did not have particularly good audio in the first place but my gimbal was having issues as well as it was starting to get noisy enough that the mics of the GoPro focused on that noise and it also managed to start picking up my heartbeat. The whole setup was aggravating. I thought about just covering it all up with music but I was able to get it mostly wrangled in with some filters in post. The video does not do this place justice. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend this place.
I had been out here the year before and the weather was not cooperating. I did shoot video on that trip and looked at incorporating some of it into this video but none of it made the cut. Here is my blog post from my 2018 visit to this area.
This trail is located turn the town on of Purdy, WA in the Gig Harbor Area. It is good example of what good city, county and user group relations can get accomplished. Here is a link to the park’s map.
Most the forest here is new growth, kinda recently worked land is the vibe I get. There are is a lot of purpose built MTB trails. Some of them are even one way.
Most of the trails area XC type trails with a little bit of tech here and there. There is a pump track as well as pump trail.
Even a wee bit of a log riding as well.
There is a set of jump trail near the upper end of the trail system that allows for some progression as you develop your skills.
Down near the bottom of the trail system are a couple of serious jump lines (not the ones pictured above) they are not joke jump lines. (Marvik and NWT3K)
Not all of the trails are on the current city map of the place, but if you check out Trailforks, you can see the delta. Interestingly enough trailforks is missing some trails that is on the city map of the place.
It is well worth a visit, but I have to admit, it does not have the same classic Pacfic Northwest trail appeal that I get at some of the other nearby places like Green Mountain State Park and Banner Forest.
Green Mountain State Park is located within about 15 minutes of where I am working here in the Puget Sound area so it is part of the post-work ride rotation.
There are plenty of way to ride the trails out here at Green Mountain State Park. I have not created a dedicated page on my site for this place yet. Here you can find some of my previous posts on this area.
Most of the trails in this area are on Trailforks.com. The Wildcat Trail is one of many trails out in the area. It is well worth a look see for the network out there.
The Wildcat trail is one of the hardest ways to get up the mountain and it will certainly test your lungs and how well you can handle redlining into the anaerobic end your cardio reserves. Lately I have been taking a longer series of fireroads up to the top of the mountain and then take Wildcat down. Well mostly down there are some uphills even on the descent to keep you honest.
A great workout with good views on clear days. A good way work out the stress of a solid day’s work.
So I am working in the Puget Sound area of Washington for the next few weeks. This is a great time be up in this area of thr country. Last year I went out to Mt Saint Helens and rode the Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham trails. It was a pretty incredible ride but the weather did not cooperate so my views were quite limited. Here is report from that day
On the top of my MTB list for this trip was a return outing to here when the weather was clear. My first weekend here and the weather report looked good so I pulled the trigger. Boy was I rewarded for it.
Along the Ape Canyon trail looking at the south fsce of the mountain.
I saw a lot more of the mountain than last year even before I got to the trailhead. The climb up Ape Canyon was fantastic and the further up I went the better things got. The tops of Mt Adams and Mt Rainier were even visible in spots.
The view from the top of Ape Canyon
The view when you reach the top of Ape Canyon is incredibly impressive. In the pan shot above you can see the Rainier, Adams and of course Mt Saint Helens.
The south-southeast slopes of the mountain.
It is crazy to think that much of the foreground was forest before the eruption in 1980. The mountain used to have a typical volcano shape to it but the eruption blasted off 1,300 feet off the top. This is just the non-blast side of the mountain.
From here I rode the Plains of Abraham trail over the eastern slope of pumice and lava rock. Riding through here I once again felt very small seeing what the power of Mama Earth can do. There were also lots of wildflowers and other low growing stuff.
The northestern slope as seen on the fireroad out Windy Gap.
The trail takes you around to the northeastern area of the mountain where you can get your first view of the side of the mountain that was blown off. In the picture above you can see the trail in the ridgeline.
Spirit Lake and the “log raft”
The singletrack dumps you off a ridgeline and onto a dirt forest service road. I took that out to Windy Gap and the onward to the Smith Creek trailhead. Here I was treated to a nice view of Spirit Lake and the “Log Raft”. The lake took the brunt of the blast and most of the water was thrown up into the higher elevations in the form of a wave estimated to be about 850 feet high. When the dust settled and water drained back into the lake it was a much larger and shallower lake that had 40% of it surface area covered in the floating trunks of the trees between it and the mountain. Check out this wikipedia article on it. Moat of those trunks are still floating on the lake.
I thought about dropping the Smith Creek trail to do a more epic loop, but I wanted to retrace my steps and descend Ape Canyon to finish the ride.
Retracing my steps was plenty of work but I was once again rewarded with killer views and the descent down Ape Canyon was the source of multiple joygasms. What an opener for this trip!
I got up at O-damm early this morning to knock off a long time on “The List” trails. The Mt Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument’s Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham trails did not disappoint. Mother Nature only allowed partial views of the mountain today which clearly means she wants me to come back. The climb up through the old growth forest spared by the eruption was sublime. Climbing up onto the plains was a WOW moment. It was amazing to see what the mountain did when it decided to give its etch-a-sketch a little shake in 1980. It’s going to take me a few days to process all of the life enrichment I took in today.
Over the last few days the smoke has been pretty thick considering how far away the Canadian and Eastern Washington wild fires were. The day after my last ride I was pretty congested and “hackie” so I decided to forego fun on the trails for a few days.
The smoke was pretty thick.
A little bit of rain and favorable winds cleared out the smoke enough to get a ride this afternoon. I made a return to Banner Forest for some twisty fast singletrack fun.
A had another good week of getting in some good afterwork rides in out at Green Mountain State Park. Most of the week I focused on zipped over the west side of the west side of the park to get to know that side better. Plenty of trail on that side as well.
I have been getting in some good after work rides out at Green Mountain State Park. This place is my current “local” trail with the trailhead just 10 minutes away. For my first ride back out here I kept it simple doing and out and back on the Wildcat trail to the Green Mountain peak. Round trip was 8.4 miles with 1,740 feet of climbing. The views included the Olypmics Mountains, Mt Rainer and downtown Seattle. Later in the week I was reminded that trails can come and go on timber land and following one of the trails I remembered from eight years ago netted me a solid 10 minutes of bramble bushwacking at the bottom of the far side of the mountain from where I started. I was not exactly chasing daylight at that point but once you get under the trees it seems much later in the evening. I found myself putting a bit more gitty up on the pedals to get back to the trailhead just to realize I had more daylight left than I expected. Good times!