Above: The Cascades from the top of Twin Peaks. Below: Wenatchee from Twin Peaks.
The hike or mountain bike ride over Twin Peaks via Number 2 Canyon and with a return to Wenatchee via the Sage Hills is a Wenatchee classic. The circuit throws you pavement, dirt road, double track road, single track trails, and even a little measure of brush to wade through. It also takes you from sage country looking out over the Columbia River, to ponderosa forests looking out over the snowy Cascades, to savannah like grasslands looking out over the orchards of the Wenatchee Valley. Finally the route takes you a long way skyward. If you mountain bike from town (we recommend leaving the car down in town) the route climbs roughly 4000 vertical feet which means you can look forward to a few hours of steady cranking followed by an equal measure of rapid rolling. Hikers will want to start at the end of pavement at the top of the Number 2 Canyon Road which cuts out about half of the elevation gain but you’ll get nearly the entire drop walking back to town through the Sage Hills.
This is a varied and exciting outing that local riders and hikers will want to enjoy but that we’ve purposely kept off the radar in the past because the route crossed private property in a few places and the usage rules were ambiguous.
Things have changed in recent years because the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust purchased 320 acres of ground at the top of Fairview Canyon as well as the 1,500 acres of property contained within the Horse Lake Reserve. Now you can make this entire circuit staying on legal roads, trails, and property. Furthermore, some of the newer trails the Land Trust has built (specifically the Lone Fir Spur Trail and the Homestead Trail) complement the completion of this route. Now we can highlight this route in good conscience. Give it go. Your thighs may not welcome the punishment but shortly after completing the route, you’ll be planning a repeat visit.
Above: Looking west from the Land Trust’s Horse Lake Reserve. Below: Looking north from the reserve.
Activity. Hiking, mountain biking, trail running. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the bulk of this route.
Length: 21 miles for cyclists starting and ending in Wenatchee, 14.5 miles for hikers and cyclists doing the unpaved portion of the route. Elevation Gain: 4000 vertical feet if starting from downtown Wenatchee. 2000 vertical feet gain if starting from the end of pavement up Number 2 Canyon Road.
Fitness: 3 (advanced) for mountain bikers starting from town; 2 (intermediate) if starting from the end of pavement up Number 2 Canyon. 2+ (strong intermediate) for hikers starting at the end of pavement up Number 2 Canyon Road.
Skill: 2+ (strong intermediate) for mountain bikers and 2 (intermediate) for hikers. There is virtually no signage marking the route, so bring a map and an adventurous attitude.
Access. Motorists and mountain bikers starting from Wenatchee will want to head south on Western Avenue until it bends hard to the right, becomes Number 2 Canyon Road, and heads west into the foothills. Follow Number 2 Canyon Road uphill (sometimes very steeply) for 4.3 miles until the pavement ends. Park in a small pullout on the south side of the road (no permits necessary).
Parking. The pullout mentioned above is small—please park efficiently so more cars can squeeze in. The pullout on the north side of the road is signed ‘No Parking,’ and you can be fined for a violation. High-clearance vehicles can also drive up the dirt road and park on the right at the second gate mentioned in the ‘Ascent’ information. As of 2011, the bottom portion of the dirt road is badly rutted and not recommended for normal passenger vehicles.
Ascent (listed below in total mileage from the end of pavement). Mile 0: From the end of pavement along Number 2 Canyon Road (elevation 2,525’), head up the dirt road. Mile 0.7: Reach a second gate where the dirt road you’ve been following (FS Road 7101) makes a sharp bend. Rather than taking the switchback, go straight through the gate onto a road that is closed to motorized vehicles. Mile 1.1: The road hooks left by the foundation of an old building which is also on the left. Mile 3.55 (elevation: 4,280’): Immediately after a shoulder with an expansive view out toward Mission Ridge, reach a Y in the road –take the right fork. Mile 4.0: A single-track spur branches right and, within 200 yards, reaches the East Summit of Twin Peaks (el. 4,586’). Mile 4.05: If you missed the single-track, you’ll come to a Y in the road—veer right to reach the eastern summit of the peak.
Descent (listed in total mileage from the summit of the East Peak). Map below.
- Mile 0. From the summit go north on a dirt trail heading downhill. This merges with a dirt road spanning the broad shoulder of the peak.
- Mile 0.4. The dirt road continues going north but descends more steeply and gets rockier. This road is very close to the crest of the north ridge and you can occasionally look right to see Wenatchee, left to see Enchantments.
- Mile 0.86 (el. 4,120’’). The road hits a shoulder where an old grassy road to your left merges with your road. Your road takes a hard hook to the right and follows a road bed in an easterly direction for a few hundred yards.
- Mile 0.95. Reach the end of the road bed and, from its end, descend a much steeper, single-track trail in a northeasterly direction. The trail follows the northeast ridge of Twin Peaks and gives the occasional view down into Number One Canyon. Less skillful cyclists may want to walk their bikes for 100 to 200 yards.
- Mile 1.32 (el. 3,670’). The steep single-track merges with a steep, rough, rocky road that points down the fall-line toward Cashmere. At the very top of this road, note the rock slab on your right. Near the bottom of this slab, look for a traverse where the lichen has been scraped off the rock by people walking across. Cross the slab (40 or 50 feet); then follow a trail uphill for a few hundred yards. Most cyclists will need to push the bike up a good portion of this hill.
- Mile 1.48 (el. 3,780’). The crest of the hill is on the NE Ridge. Follow a flat trail near the ridge for 100 yards and then hook to the right and merge with a dirt road that drops more steeply.
- Mile 1.58 (el. 3,700’). Reach a water catcher for wildlife. You’re still on the ridge crest following a double-track road. About 100 yards past the water catcher, you enter Land Trust Property (not signed at the time of this report). Now there are some faint turns to be looking for.
- Mile 1.66. Hikers may want to stay next to the ridge by following a very faint trail splitting off to the right of the road (see the green route on the map). This spur will lead to a steep, loose slope that drops about 250 vertical feet before you hit another double-track road following the ridge. The easier option is to remain on the road a little longer as it drops in the direction of Monitor.
- Mile 1.75 (el. 3,640’).The double track road starts turning to the left and heading west. There’s an important split here to the right which takes you onto a much fainter, overgrown road. This is easy to miss but is marked with a bundle of sticks and a pile of rocks. The first 75 feet maybe grassy and non-distinct, but soon you’re on all old road bed that is bushy but has a reasonable trail on it. The road is curvy and makes a switchback or two, but once you’re on it you’ll just follow it downward for about 1.5 miles. You’ll go through forests and eventually come out into grasslands with good views of Burch and Badger mountains.
- Mile 3.3 (el. 2900’) Here’s another turn that’s easy to miss. As the road you’ve been following hooks left and starts heading west, look for a right turn go straight down a steeper, fainter trail heading north (in the direction of Burch Mountain). In a 100 yards the tread hooks right (east) onto a flatter road. This road is a little brushy and contours 0.25 miles before climbing 50 yards to reach a fence. Note: In 2014 this trail segment changed to avoid going onto private property for a short distance. Now, around the point where the road hooks left as described in the first sentence of this section, turn right on a single-track trail. In 2014 and 2015 there was signage here to direct people to the new trail. This is the upper extension to the Apple Crisp Trail (map showing this extension).
- Follow the Apple Crisp Trail downhill for about 0.6 miles until you hit a wider, double-track road. Turn left and follow the double track road downhill for a few hundred yards where you’ll have the choice to turn right onto the lower portion of the Apple Crisp Trail. For the purpose of this trail description, however, keep going straight and stay on the double-track road which is called the Orchard Trai. This drops (fairly steep) past a few old fruit trees and down through fields of tall grass. Note: We haven’t re-measured the mileage since the upper extension of Apple Crisp Trail was built so the mileages listed below are estimations
- Mile 4.4 (el. 2,525’) About 60 feet uphill of a collapsed shed, turn right and follow a double track road on a contour through a field of tall grass. Soon you’ll go past a depression on your left that has shrubs around it – this is Horse Lake which has silted in and is no longer a lake.
- Mile 4.6. Go through an opening in another fence. The road veers right at the fence and then hooks to your left as it heads downhill in a northeasterly direction.
- Mile 4.9 (el 2,390’). To your right is the start of the Homestead Trail, (a newer trail built by the Land Trust in 2010). Follow this uphill 150 yards.
- Mile 5.0 (el. 2,420’). From the saddle, head downhill on the zigzagging Homestead Trail.
- Mile 7.1 (el. 1,800’). At the intersection with the Lone Fir Spur (the trail starting at the Horse Lake Trailhead and heading over to the Sage Hills), turn right. This trail will be heading east on a gentle, uphill contour.
- Mile 7.6 (el. 1,835’). Reach a saddle and another trail intersection. Go straight here, staying on the larger trail. Descend a gentle trail with several switchbacks. At the bottom of the switchbacks, turn right at a T intersection. Follow the trail into and through a little gulley with badland formations. After crossing the gulley, the trail makes a gentle uphill contour to another saddle.
- Mile 8.4 (el. 1,635’). At the saddle, head downhill in a southeasterly direction on what’s called The Gut Trail. After 0.5 miles, the trail will drop more steeply into a dry creek bed and then climb uphill to a gentle, rounded ridge where you’ll intersect yet another trail. Go straight across this smaller trail and head downhill for 100 yards. Next, make a contouring ascent for 150 yards. Now the trail merges with another trail — keep heading in a southeasterly direction.
- Mile 9.2 (el. 1,395’) Reach Five-Trail Saddle where two of the trails are now blockaded. The Maiden Lane Trail to the left heads downhill and reaches the Broadview housing development in 0.75 miles. For this trip, go straight and follow the Sage Hills Trail in a southerly direction toward Number One Canyon.
- Mile 10.7 (el. 1,140’). Reach the pavement of Sage Hills Road. Walking another 0.2 miles on Sage Hills Road will lead you to a gravel parking lot at the intersection of Sage Hills Road and Number One Canyon Road.
Unabashed plug (propaganda?). This outing and many other local outings on the East Side of the Loop, around Saddle Rock, at Dry Gulch, in the Sage Hills, and around Horse Lake wouldn’t be available to us were it not for the Land Trust working to conserve and/or purchase these properties. If you value these places for their habitat, open space, and/or recreational opportunities, join the Land Trust. The yearly cost ($25/year) is small but a large membership gives the organization greater capacity to protect places we value.
Leave It Better than You Found It. This should be every user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, etc.
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.