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by Ray Birks

Local trail users in the greater Devils Gulch and Mission Ridge Trail System may find a new surprise when traveling on Mission Creek Road now that the road is closed above the junction with Peavine Canyon. In 2021, FS 7100 (aka Mission Creek Road) was formally closed through a NEPA decision, and a new trail was built higher on the hillside to allow for restoration of degraded stream bed and steelhead habitat on the old roadbed. In 1970, in an effort to prevent or eliminate damage to the environment, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law. As a result, the upper stretch of the road is now closed to all trail users.

The new trail that bypasses the closed section, called Peavine Pinnacle, is 3.1 miles long, climbs 851 feet, and descends 615 feet when traveling north to south according to TrailForks. It also includes ¼ mile of road to trail conversion. This multi-directional trail was designed as multi-use for bikers, hikers, horses, and motorcyclists and is rated as a green trail as far as difficulty. When the trail was completed, it was very sandy but since it’s had a full winter to settle, it should be in better shape in subsequent years.

Experienced local mountain biker, Alan Schmaltz, described the trail coming from the north as gradual at first and then a series of steep, tough uphill switchbacks. He was able to tame them on his mountain bike but not on his gravel bike, due in part to the loose dirt associated with new trails. The descent from the summit has another set of switchbacks which, at the time, were also moon dust. Finally, the trail crosses a small creek before rejoining FS 7100.

Wenatchee Outdoors Executive Director, Sarah Shaffer, also a seasoned mountain biker and outdoors veteran, rode the trail in its first year as well. She commented that some uphill sections were soft and super tight, making uphill turns troublesome. Her exact words were “a beast of an uphill”. Coming from her that means it’s going to be strenuous. She also noted the great views from the summit as well as on the descent back to FS 7100.

This trail wouldn’t have come about without the collaboration between local organizations. Erin McKay and the Chelan County Department of Natural Resources had determined the streambed of the east fork of Mission Creek had been damaged due in part to the 2012 Table Mountain fire. Chelan County worked with the Forest Service and Central Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to ensure continued recreational use, streambed restoration and an alternative route within the very popular recreation corridor.

Central Evergreen completed the feasibility studies, put together design proposals, and eventually won the bid to build the trail. Evergreen trails program manager, Mic Mclane, did the initial corridor discovery in August of 2018 and came up with three possible solutions for the new trail. The current solution was chosen because of its sustainability, price to build and maintain as well as the enhanced user experience. The forest service wanted the trail to have the same difficulty and feel as the local Mission Ridge and Devil’s Gulch trails. Mic touts the trail’s amazing views of the Enchantment Zone and the Wenatchee Mountains, as well as some spectacular geology, including the pinnacle sandstone with basalt intrusions.

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