A few trails do not a system make. A system needs trails of various lengths and difficulties. Trail systems provide loops that users can put together in different configurations and in different directions. They have different access points. And they have enough trails that a multiplier effect takes place. Rather than being the sum of the parts, a system becomes the product of its parts.
The Wenatchee Foothills Trails recently blossomed from a mish-mash of individual trails into a trail system when the Horse Lake properties developed trails and merged with the Sage Hills Trails. Likewise, trails in the Twin Peaks area not only expanded in number but merged with the Foothills Trails to become an impressive trail system.
To date, Leavenworth has lacked a front country trail system. The town has possessed a collection of trails at the Ski Hill, Freund Canyon, and Icicle Ridge, but those trails have not worked together to magnify each other… or at least they hadn’t done so until now.
The completion of a green-circle (easy) trail connecting the dirt roads and paths around Ski Hill to those of Freund Canyon, and a second forthcoming trail that will connect Ski Hill to higher portions of Freund Canyon and Ranger Road (Road 7601) are game changers. All at once, small pods of trails and dirt roads are coalescing into a connected network. Suddenly there are many more possibilities attracting users of all abilities and fitness levels, there are different loops that can be strung together and traveled in different directions, and there are different access points (Ski Hill, Ranger Road, Freund Canyon) that give access to the entire system. Furthermore, now you can see how the addition of each new trail to the mix magnifies the appeal of the whole.
The links that started this new evolution had been imagined and discussed for about 20 years but environmental assessments, funding shortages, inconsistent leadership at the Forest Service, and erratic volunteer energy have sidetracked a good idea for decades. In recent years a concentrated volunteer effort provided by Das Rad Haus and the Evergreen Mountain Biking Alliance, combined with supportive Forest Service leadership re-energized this effort and delivered on it.
The first trail, a relatively gentle and wide path suited to most hikers and trail runners as well as to mountain bikers with advanced beginner skills, has just been punched through to Freund Canyon. The trail has yet to be named but is noted as the green dashed line on our topo map.For the lack of a better name, we’re calling it the Green Connector for now.
Meanwhile, another green-circle climbing trail (i.e., an easy, fairly wide, consistently graded path) is getting queued up and dirt will be broken on that effort later in the fall. The general location and destination of this next trail is noted by the blue arrow on our map. This trail will also leave from Ski Hill and climb up and eventually intersect the higher reaches of Rosy Boa. From the top of this trail, hikers and mountain bikers will be able to descend Rosy Boa for an adrenaline rush, or traverse into Freund Canyon for an easier descent, or climb the roads up Tumwater Mountain for views, or…. you get the idea: one trail, many options. That’s what trail systems are about.
No Mooching. If you’re a mountain biker, hiker, or trail runner who will use these trails, then contribute. Due to budget cuts, public agencies not only lack funding to build new trails, they struggle to maintain their existing inventory of trails. The mode of the day is to partner with groups like Evergreen who raise the dollars and muster the volunteers to build and maintain trails. Like it or not, these days it’s up to trail enthusiasts to fund, build, and maintain what we use. The Green Connector is nearly done after nearly a thousand volunteer hours of elbow grease, but a second trail leaving from the Ski Hill and intersecting the Freund Canyon trails higher up needs lots of manpower and substantial dollars to happen. Play your part by contributing either muscle or moola.
- To plug into upcoming work parties to build the next trail, contact James Munly at Das Rad Haus. To give money, donate to the Evergreen Mountain Biking Alliance and specify that your contribution is for the ‘Ski Hill Project.’
Access. From Leavenworth, access the Ski Hill trails by turning north on Ski Hill Drive and driving 1.5 miles to the gravel parking lot at the Ski Hill. No permits needed.
Maps. See attached map.
Trip Instructions. Access the Green Connector by parking at Ski Hill. Ride the gravel road that passes by on the uphill side of the ski lodge. Keep riding this gravel road and at every split take the steeper, uphill fork. Some moderately steep climbing ensues. In 0.3 to 0.4 mile you will see the wide, singletrack trail split off (on your left). Take this as it makes a few switchbacks uphill. Soon the trail starts a long uphill traverse – first heading east, then bending around a ridge and heading north. About 1.5 miles after leaving the Ski Hill roads, you’ll hit the popular trail at Freund that mountain bikers ride in the downhill direction.
Land Ownership: Wenatchee National Forest.
Reporter and Date: Andy Dappen, 9/4/2013
Leave It Better Than You Found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
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.
Don’t Use Soft /Wet Trails. Please stay off trails when they are soft or wet enough that you’re leaving foot prints or wheel ruts deeper than 1/4 inch (or horse prints deeper than ½ inch). All of these prints hold and channel water, which greatly accelerates erosion. When the trails are soft, here’s the operative question: ‘Could a 100 people use the trails in the same way without messing up the surface?’ If the answer is ‘no’ please don’t use the trails.
This post was originally published on 9/7/2013.