Things take time when you’re dealing with the U.S Forest Service, which is why it might seem odd for a bunch of old dudes to be proposing a line they might never get to ride.
Bob Horness, Vaughn Martin, Kelley Hinkle, Dave LeMonds, and I have been working on this for two years. I think Vaughn has been dreaming about it for much longer than that. It opens new options at the mountain, providing a ride route for beginner and intermediate riders and also allowing experienced riders to easily expanded their routes to epic dimensions.
Andy Jansky of Northwest Trail Alliance has made the formal submission for us. We’ll see if we can get any traction. It’s very likely that we will use the SHIFT work party in August to start working on the sections that are already open to mountain bikers (Although they are currently open they need work if they are to be rideable).
The GPS scans I received from Kelley and Vaughn (bottom) correspond to the sections described in this proposal.
Proposal – Approval of a mountain biking trail from Red Rock Pass to Marble Mountain Sno-Park to the lahar. The trail would be approximately 14 miles in length and would incorporate existing ski and sno-mobile trails and abandoned logging roads. Less than 1.5 miles of new trail would need to be added to make this possible.
- To provide an interconnected network of trails that can be accessed from Marble Mountain Sno-Park
- To create trails for beginner and intermediate level riders who want to experience riding at Mount St. Helens; this option is not currently available at the mountain. We want to develop family-friendly, barrier-free trails that provide a variety of riders with a chance to experience this spectacular landscape
- To link (with a few short pavement exceptions) the Ape Canyon Trail to trails at Red Rock Pass
- To eventually expand the trail network in this area by utilizing additional ski and sno-mobile trails that will be open to hikers and mountain bikers
- Marble Mountain Sno-Park has an extensive parking area. Making it the hub for mountain bikers would reduce congestion at the tiny parking lot at Ape Canyon
- The proposed trails combine existing ski and snowmobile trails with abandoned logging roads, which translates into very little new line that needs to be approved and constructed
- A network of trails at Marble Mountain will draw riders, reducing pressure on the Ape Canyon Trail. Additionally, if publicized, this network will also draw hikers, again reducing pressure at Ape Canyon and limiting the potential for user conflicts.
- Unlike the Ape Canyon and Sheep Canyon trails, the proposed line would have relatively little ascent (1,500 feet over 14 miles), making it very appropriate for beginner and intermediate riders
- The proposed new sections are already rock-based and would need no excavation. Like hikers, mountain bikers have little impact on trail beds; thus excavation is rarely needed
- Red Rock Pass to Marble Mountain Sno-Park: Distance is 6.0 miles. After leaving Red Rock on the Toutle Trail, the line would head east on the Kalama Ski Trail for 2.8 miles. At that point, it intersects with a logging road that becomes West Fork Sno-Mobile Trail and continues to the Pine Marten Trail at Marble Mountain. Not long after transitioning from the Toutle Trail to the Kalama Ski Trail, there is a lahar-like area where the trail crosses as it heads northeast. To minimize the distance on the lahar – which will require annual maintenance – it would make sense to relocate the trail to parallel the lahar for about .3 miles to a point where it can be crossed directly to pick up the line on the other side. This would limit erosion and maintenance. Most work on the Kalama Ski Trail would involve weedeaters and smaller chainsaws.
- Pine Marten to Sasquatch Trail: Distance is 1.9 miles. The Pine Marten Trail needs work, mostly in the form of limited benching and weedeating, to reestablish the line.
- Sasquatch Trail to Unnamed Trail: Distance is 1.1. This section is in very good shape. Only minor work is needed to make it fully rideable.
- Unnamed Trail to 83 Road: Distance is 2.7 miles. The first part of the transition from the Sasquatch Trail to this line will need limbing and a rake-off. After that, the majority of it is well-developed, with a solid trail bed. It runs to the edge of Pine Creek and then turns south for the final 1.0 miles to the 83 Road, where people often camp.
- Pine Creek Trail: After heading east for approximately 200 yards on the 83 Road, the line picks up again with the Pine Creek Trail. Distance is 1.0 to the lahar. The first half of the Pine Creek line needs work (It’s in far worse condition that the Unnamed Trail mentioned above), including water mitigation and the need for USFS staff with bigger chainsaws to cut out several large downed trees.
- Pine Creek Termination at Lahar to 83 Road: Distance is 1.0 miles. This is one of the sections that would need to be added. The trail alignment currently exists as a “volunteer” trail used by hikers to access the upper parts of the Lahar. The good news is that very little work will be needed, other than limbing for safety. The trail bed is essentially mineral soil (sand/gravel/rock), which makes it perfect because it avoids low areas and dense undergrowth and would require very little maintenance once cleared.
Summary – The local mountain bike community, through Northwest Trail Alliance, would be the primary organization leading the volunteer efforts under USFS supervision to complete this project. As part of those efforts, we would perform outreach to involve other non-profits passionate about the Monument to ensure the trail improvements were a collective success.
By initiating this effort as a user-supported vision, we will develop a group with a strong connection to the trail system and ensure interest in the project’s long-term success, including maintenance and stewardship. Additionally, this effort will help establish a strong relationship between the mountain biking community and USFS at the Monument.
View the proposed route at https://drive.google.com/open?id=15xbN22J9prmmQrBqU_lrW_VjDB8&usp=sharing
View the proposed route and a more comprehensive look at future possibilities that can be linked to the line at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Yz-vopA2RDKjcY0J7rcsxOfd0KY&usp=sharing