Town to Summit Loop
By Ray Birks
This report is part of a series, written for Wenatchee Outdoors, to document some of the classic mountain bike rides within an hour’s drive of the Wenatchee Valley. They consist of more than just details on one trail but a series of trails that comprise a well-known route. What makes these routes classics? It’s a combination of local knowledge, trail quality, scenery, points of interest, and destination-worthy intangible awesomeness.
What makes this a Wenatchee Classic:
If you want to sample the absolute best trails and views the Wenatchee Valley can offer up and get a great workout in the process then the Twin Peaks Summit Loop is hard to beat. The beauty of this loop is that it can be ridden from town in either direction depending on whether or not you want to climb ½ pavement, ½ dirt or 100% on dirt. In the spring and early summer the wildflowers take center stage and the trails are in their best form. In the depths of summer the cooler temps on Twin Peaks offer a pleasant respite from the heat in the valley. The route described takes riders through Sage Hills, the Horse Lake Preserve, up the side of Twin Peaks and samples the trails of Number Two Canyon, the gem of the Wenatchee Valley.
Riding this counterclockwise, you have a few ascent options. The most direct and probably the fastest route is to ride up Horse Lake Road and continue on the Old Ranch Road double track all the way to Apricot Crisp where single track awaits. Another option is to start on single track off of the 5th St./Sage Hills entrance on Lester’s Trail and make your way through Sage Hills in the Horse Lake Preserve to Apricot Crisp. In the Horse Lake Preserve there are single track ascent options on Homestead, Burt’s or Glacier View Trails as well.
Points of Interest:
- Take a break and enjoy the views of the Enchantments on the natural seats on Sofa Kingdom and Eye Candy
- Outstanding 360 degree views from the top of Twin Peaks
- Lots of spots to take in the wildflowers and views of the valley and Columbia River
- Amazing trails designed for mountain bikes
All of the trail maps and routes come from Trailforks and while there are lots of variations and extra loops you could incorporate, the route can be ridden entirely on road and double track, except for one small stretch on Upper Apricot Crisp. There is a lot of mileage that can be done on other trails and this report can’t take those all into account. Using TrailForks to explore this area is your best resource.
Trail by trail description (counterclockwise):
Since there are so many trails in this loop and so many potential trails to explore, this section has been broken into regions, rather than detailing each and every trail.
- Sage Hills – This area provides many miles of easy, rolling trails that will warm up the legs and get the
juices flowing for the rest of the climbing that lay ahead. In mid-spring the flowers here are off the charts and the trails closer to the trailheads may seem a bit more crowded than usual but any other time of the year you’ll be surprised to find many trail users at all.
- Horse Lake – The newer trails in the Wenatchee foothills can be found here, tailored to mountain bikers with medium-sized climbs and tremendous views, never too easy and never too hard.
- Twin Peaks Dirt – Once you leave the Horse Lake Preserve you’ll climb nice dirt roads to the summit of Twin Peaks. There’s a steep stretch of a few hundred yards right in the middle, just before you leave the Chelan Douglas Land Trust property, but for the most part it’s moderate climbing on decent dirt roads.
- Number Two Canyon – The crown jewel of Wenatchee valley’s trails, located on the west side of Twin Peaks, boasts miles and miles of mountain bike trails for all ability levels, from green cruisers to black diamond. From the summit of Twin Peaks you can descend single track all the way to the closed gate ½ mile from the pavement that takes you back to town. Or hop on the double track and zip back to the asphalt.
- The Pavement – At some point you have to pay the piper. If you ride this route counterclockwise you’ll descend the paved portion and be glad you didn’t have to climb some of the steeper sections.
Recommended Trails for a counterclockwise loop:
- Lester’s Trail
- Lower Sage
- The Gut
- Lone Pine
- Burt’s Trail
- Glacier View
- Lower Apricot Crisp ~ Upper Apricot Crisp
- Access Fire Road
- Twin Peaks Road (Upper)
- Eye Candy/EVH
- New Sundance
- Double D’s
- Easy Monday
- Road Bypass
Additional trails to consider to make your ride longer and more challenging include:
- The Still – A great loop with some rocky stretches and big berms that takes you on a southern loop of the Number Two Canyon trail system. Instead of taking Double D’s, continue further west on New Sundance to join the loop.
- Twin Peaks Slide – If you’re riding this route clockwise and want a challenging black diamond downhill, aim your tires for this trail that rides a ridge down the side of Twin Peaks. From the summit take a single track to the north until you get to an obvious T and turn right. Drop the post and hang on.
Distance: 29 Miles
Direction Described: counterclockwise
Elevation Gain: 4,700 feet
Technical Difficulty: (Advanced) Intermediate. This route contains all green and blue trails but has a lot of climbing, close to 4,700 feet, with a very steep 200 yard stretch of double track at about the halfway point, if you’re riding it counterclockwise.
Suggested Bike: This route is most easily ridden on a mountain bike.
Endurance: 7 out of 10. This route is not technically challenging but does involve over 4,700 feet of climbing with one very steep section in the middle that’ll make you wish you’d gone with that 52 tooth cassette on the rear.
Parking Access: No parking pass is required at any of the potential starting points. Since this loop can be ridden in either direction, parking on 5th St is a great option since there are plenty of spots and you can choose to start your ride up the pavement or trail from there.
Route Description: The route described is ridden counterclockwise but it can be ridden in either direction. Base your riding direction on whether or not you want to climb the pavement stretch and descend dirt all the way back to your starting point or do your climbing on dirt and finish off with a quick pavement descent.
When to Ride: This loop can usually be ridden late April to late November. Be aware that all of the trails in this system are closed from December 1st to April 1st (April 15th for upper trails in Number Two Canyon). The best time to ride these trails is in May when the wildflowers are at their peak, but expect to encounter more trail users during this time closer to the trailheads. If you’re riding in the summer, get an early start because there are no trees at lower elevations and it can get hot in the afternoons. Fall is a fantastic time to ride as well as the trails are usually packed down and virtually empty. Do not ride on trails that are wet or mushy, which can happen in late fall or after recent rains.
- Both Sage Hills and Horse Lake have seasonal closures from December 1st to April 1st to support mule deer migration and protect the trail system
- Number Two Canyon has a seasonal closure from December 1st to April 15th
- Dogs are required to be on leash in Sage Hills and Horse Lake
- Currently, ebikes are not allowed in Sage Hills and Horse Lake
- There is no reliable water available on the route but there may be some in early spring in Horse Lake or the spring at the start of Road Rage
- Beware of snakes in the warmer months
- These trails are multi-use so expect to share them with hikers and horse riders
- These trails do not handle moisture well so avoid them and use common sense after recent rains
- Beware of the freeze/thaw cycle in early spring or late fall and don’t ride on trails that are mushy or if your tires are leaving a visible rut or you’re frequently slipping or losing traction