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Devil’s Gulch/Mission Ridge Figure Eight

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.

An inviting manicured switchback on Devil’s Gulch – photo courtesy of Central Washington Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

What makes this a Wenatchee Classic: Trail quality (high), views (stellar), distance (healthy) and challenge (worthy) are what make this ride a must-do if you are a mountain biker in Washington state. The Devil’s Gulch climb is consistent from the beginning, crossing 3-4 creeks within the first few miles, climbing a few switchbacks and rambling along above Mission Creek. There are not many big views in this stretch (except for a couple during the switchback section) but the trees, the trail and the river will keep you company. Eventually you’ll cross the Mission Ridge trail as it descends from the right and dissects Devil’s Gulch about ¾ of the way up. Keep climbing up Devil’s Gulch as the ascent moderates and the trail smooths out nicely until you reach Beehive Road. The climb up Beehive Road is usually pleasant with no traffic. You will start to gain increasingly broader and more impressive views of the Mission Creek drainage until eventually you reach your high point at the Upper Mission Ridge trailhead. The top of this trail is the most technical and challenging stretch with rocks and roots and is a solid black diamond that intermediate and advanced riders with full suspension will appreciate. The lower stretches of the Mission Ridge trail, after you cross Devil’s Gulch, are more flowy and less technical as they drop you back to your starting point.

The Red Hill/Red Devil Loop is an additional set of trails to consider making your ride longer and more challenging which can be added at the beginning or the end of your ride:

  • Red Devil – 5.1 miles, 883ft ascent, 1,033ft descent
  • Red Hill – 4.1 miles, 2,548ft ascent, 856ft descent
  • Red Hill Spur – 3.7 miles, 851ft ascent, 2,320 descent

An approaching storm over the Enchantments on the Upper Mission Ridge trail – photo courtesy of https://www.musthikemusteat.com/

Additionally, you can skip the trail and ride up the dirt road all the way to Beehive Road but make sure to follow your map and don’t miss the right turn where the old roadbed is washed out but a mix of single and doubletrack continues. If you pass through a gate you’re headed up Peavine Canyon in the wrong direction and need to double back a bit.

Points of Interest: 

  • There is water in Mission Creek at the beginning of the route and a few creek crossings in the first few miles of Devil’s Gulch.
  • Enjoy the views on the Devil’s Gulch switchbacks, the junction with Mission Ridge Trail, along Beehive Road and at the top of Mission Ridge Trail.
  • There are plenty of trees along the route for shade during the summer months.

All of the trail maps and routes come from Trailforks

Route: Here are all of the trails in one route

Trail by trail description:

  1. Devil’s Gulch – 11.9 miles, 3,430ft ascent, 315ft descent
  2. Beehive Rd. 9712 – 1.5 miles, 1,000ft ascent
  3. Upper Mission Ridge – 3.6 miles, 1,608ft descent, 327ft ascent
  4. Mission Ridge – 7.9 miles, 4,403ft descent, 1,385ft ascent

Route Statistics

Distance: 24.7 miles

Direction Described: figure eight, climb Devil’s Gulch, descend Mission Ridge

Big views of Mission Creek and beyond – photo courtesy of https://www.musthikemusteat.com/

Elevation: 5,115ft climb, 5,072ft descent, 5,735ft high point

Technical Difficulty: Strong Intermediate/Advanced. This route is not suited for beginners as it contains a lot of climbing and some technical, rocky descending on the Upper Mission Ridge Trail. Advanced riders could consider riding this route in reverse.

Suggested Bike: This route is most easily ridden on a mountain bike. eBikes are allowed on these trails. The only section you’ll wish you had a full suspension bike is on the Upper Mission Ridge trail but a hardtail will suffice.

Endurance: 8 out of 10. This route is on the long-ish side and has quite a bit of climbing, even after you start descending. The upper part of the Mission Ridge Trail has rocky and technical sections that will keep intermediate riders on their toes. You are also miles away from help if things go south so make sure you are well prepared.

Trail work and photo courtesy of Central Washington Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

Parking Access: A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the lower trailhead.

Trailhead Parking Directions: From Cashmere, drive up Mission Creek Road. Eventually the road turns to gravel and passes a hellscape of old cars and mobile homes. Stay left here and in a few miles the trailhead will be on the right.

https://goo.gl/maps/xEuLj68myqYnUzfMA

Route Description:  The climb up Devil’s Gulch is consistent with a few creek crossings and some shorter steep sections but overall is very manageable. There are some switchbacks that offer nice valley views. The climbing mellows out after you approach the junction where Upper Mission Ridge Trail meets Devil’s Gulch. You could make this a short loop by turning left at this junction onto Mission Ridge Trail but our route continues climbing Devil’s Gulch a few more miles to Beehive Road. Turn right on Beehive Road for a few more miles of climbing to the Upper Mission Ridge Trail. Engage your suspension for a worthwhile technical descent that eventually smooths out and you’ll find yourself back at the junction with Devil’s Gulch. Turn the suspension off for a bit of a climb on the Mission Ridge trail after the junction. The trail will undulate for a few miles along the ridge with fantastic views off both sides and eventually drop down off the ridge in a series of switchbacks to the valley floor and your starting point.

A typical shot along Devil’s Gulch, flowy, buttery goodness – photo courtesy of Central Washington Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

When to Ride: This route is usually snow free sometime in late May/June but there are often dozens of blowdowns that need to be cleared. Luckily the local motorcycle groups often do the bulk of the clearing and mountain bikers are eternally grateful for this as the trees tend to be on the larger side and require a chainsaw. Central Washington Evergreen Mountain Bike Association also maintains the trail and hosts yearly work parties to support their efforts.

Warnings:

  • Both trails are open to motorcycles so ride with caution. These trails are narrow in spots and most

    A rocky stretch of Mission Ridge trail – photo courtesy of https://www.musthikemusteat.com/.

    times it’s easier for mountain bikers to move off the trail to make room for motorcycles to pass.

  • There is a healthy climb on the Mission Ridge descent after you pass the junction with Devil’s Gulch. Be mentally ready for it.
  • Some stretches of the Mission Ridge trail get heavy motorcycle use and can be dusty in summer months.
  • There are no leash requirements on either trail.
  • Creek crossings on Devil’s Gulch can be knee deep in the spring.
  • There is no water available on the upper ⅔ of this route.
  • Beware of snakes in the warmer months and the occasional black bear.
  • These trails are multi-use so expect to share them with hikers, motorcycles and horse riders.
  • Like most trails on the east side of the mountains, these trails do not handle moisture well so avoid them and use common sense after recent rains.

    Pause at the switchbacks for some of the bigger views along Devil’s Gulch – photo courtesy of Central Washington Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.

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