by Tom Potter
All photos provided by Tom Potter
It’s not every year that we get pristine dirt conditions in the Wenatchee Valley well into June. In fact, it’s a total anomaly. The 2022 spring mountain bike season has definitely been one for the books. The constant doses of moisture, low temps, and significant snowpack has made the mountain bike riding as good as I’ve ever had it since living in the valley.
My mountain bike season started in early March with a trip out to Ancient Lakes in Quincy. This is always one of the first places to melt out and a great area to get some pedaling in while all our local trails are still covered in snow. It didn’t take long for the Wenatchee and Cashmere trails to be ridable as well, especially the south facing zones. By late March we were riding the lower elevation trails as far up as Leavenworth, and the riding was great!
By early April, I remember noticing how dusty some of the trails were already getting. We were even making jokes that “That was a short season”, and “Well, I guess mountain bike season is over!” Then, on April 12th, I woke up to six inches of fresh snow in Leavenworth. It all melted by that afternoon, but the next morning, I woke up to ten inches of fresh snow. That trend continued through the week. It was like the movie Groundhog Day. While the snow put a serious damper on the mountain bike riding, it also juiced up the snowpack in the high alpine areas, as well as gave us some much-needed ground saturation in the lower elevation hills. While it was inconvenient that mountain biking in the Wenatchee Valley was on hold for a week or two, this was a key factor in extending the season.
On April 20th, I went for a ride at Sage Hills and Horse Lakes, as all the fresh snow had melted out. Dirt conditions were prime, but there was something missing. There were hardly any wildflowers! I had coincidently ridden the same area on the same day in 2021 and the flowers were absolutely popping the year before. My theory was that the late snowfall crushed them but I’m not a botanist, so who knows. I was just stoked to be back on the bike after our late season snowfall pumped the brakes on our riding during mid-April.
Once May hit, it was game on. Some warmer temps came in that melted out pretty much every trail in the Valley and after the repetitious snow/melt/snow/melt in April, there was no sign of dust anywhere. Everything was riding as good as you could want it. The dirt conditions were as if there was a dial you could turn to “perfect”, and it was stuck there. In most cases this would have only lasted for a week or so, but then we had an abundance of rain and cool weather throughout May. Most people in the Valley are ready for the warm temps of summer by the middle of May, but for mountain bikers we are living in a fantasy.
As I write this, on June 18th, 2022, almost all the bike trails in the Wenatchee Valley are still riding incredibly well. Yesterday I rode up No. 2 Canyon to the top of Twin Peaks, down through the Horse Lake Reserve and out through Sage Hills. The dirt was as good, if not better than it was in April. Not to mention, with these cool temps we’re experiencing, you can still get out and ride at any time of the day without worrying about getting beat down by the sun or burning through 2 liters of water in the first hour of pedaling. We have literally been living a mountain bike dream season.
I want to extend a huge “thank you!” to the Central Washington Chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust, and all trail builders and volunteers that have contributed to making this valley one of the best places to ride mountain bikes in the Pacific Northwest. We have a gem here and it would not be possible without the countless hours of hard work contributed by hundreds of volunteers and expert dirt craftsmen.
Have an amazing rest of the season. See you on the trail!
Cheers, Tom Potter (T-Pot!)
For more information on Tom or to get a hold of him click here.