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  1. #1
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    St Helens - Smith Creek Loop

    Now is a good time to ride the Smith Creek Loop. I spent the last two weekends clearing the "secret" trail from Lower Smith up to Ape Canyon TH as well as Smith Creek from the lower trailhead up a long ways. The creek crossing with the big logs looks like it's a jungle, but if you look to the left, you will see that I cleared a path along the logs so you can keep your feet dry.

    Broke my derailleur and bent my hanger on sticks, had to hike out for over 2 hours. Beware of sticks, the trail could use some more cleanup work. At least I cleared out all the trees in the way that I could, except for one huge tree that people have already rerouted around.

    Thanks to Paul Norris, who also worked on the secret trail.

    I was only doing trail work, but I ran into 4 riders who did the entire loop, and they report it is entirely ride-able.

  2. #2
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    Huge thumbs up Ken!

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    Thanks for the hard work Ken.

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    Re: St Helens - Smith Creek Loop

    Thank you Ken.

    Going down there next weekend for a "free ride" thanks to you and brother Norris.

    How many years have you been at this now? (and its always much appreciated!).

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    Thanks indeed, you Gifford-Pinchot Rock Star! I'll be making the pilgrimage back down there this season.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by paleo View Post
    Thank you Ken.

    Going down there next weekend for a "free ride" thanks to you and brother Norris.

    How many years have you been at this now? (and its always much appreciated!).
    My pleasure. I've been doing trail work at St Helens since 2008, so I guess this is my 6th year.

    Enjoy the ride, you deserve a free one with all the work you've been doing!

  7. #7
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    Hi, thought I'd post in this thread rather than starting a new one. Any other beta on this trail that presumably takes the climb back up FS8322 out of the equation? Besides following what is in this description: Trail:Smith Creek - Evergreen Trail Guide

    I'll be coming from the Hood area (spending a week in the area while the kids are at a ski camp) and hoping to ride the loop in mid-July with wifey. Seems like starting from the Windy Ridge side would be the shortest distance to travel as well as get Smith Canyon out of the way right off the bat. However, mrs. rockman will kill me if the ride ends up anything like this guy's user experience. Lost Around a Volcano – Mountain Biking the Plains of Abraham Epic Loop | In My Professional Opinion

    On a side note, I went into a career in geology and geomorphology partly because of the 1980 eruption. I'm stoked to do this ride. Thanks for all the work!
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

  8. #8
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    Re: St Helens - Smith Creek Loop

    I'll plant this hint that skips the fs road climb and others can zoom in.

    The way out is an abandoned road that Norris worked on to keep open.

    Back in the day about 1997 when the fs advised this route was not recommended a Portland bike tribe included mark flint the one i knew who handily found the route down to the island where the monument poles about 6' tall with an engraved ring 6-8" from the top guide you to eventually hop back to the old road on the eastern flank of the volcano.

    The capable Tacoma STM (singletrack mind) group found the island but struggled to access the fs road as the bridge was impassable is what I recall the story from mike curley and 12+ hours comes to mind.

    I dragged my little lady down there that year and we missed the monument poles staying on the volcano's drainages not the island. Our 11 hour round trip from windy ridge had an unforgettable memory. When we found the road grade off the island about 6 miles down where things change a hiker "angel" was walking up an abandoned road about 100 yards. The Angel told us this would skip the dusty and dangerous fs road and bridge that we learned had troubled the stm crew.

    The best way I can describe this is after the big rideable log it becomes flat and the trail continues south but keep looking west/right and there is likely a marker like sticks or cairns right to the shortcut road.

    Your loop will take 3-5 hours or less if you don't slow down and look around at the geological masterpiece you came to adore.

  9. #9
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    The long winded hint

    Quote Originally Posted by rockman
    Any other beta on this trail that presumably takes the climb back up FS8322 out of the equation? Besides following what is in this description: Trail:Smith Creek - Evergreen Trail Guide
    As you follow along Lower Smith, eventually you'll get to a sign that indicates to turn right (towards Smith Creek TH / Lava Canyon TH), where the alternative is to continue straight into the huge creek (which is not permissible to cross). At this point, you've overshot the abandoned jeep trail, like most every first timer misses it.

    So...backtrack about two minutes and look up the trail for a small triangle shaped clearing (where clearing is defined as about 20 feet) leading into a barely discernible trail. Follow that all the way up till Ape Canyon TH. Last month there was an arrow on the trail made of rotten logs, but is not easy to see and may get removed as it confuses hikers.

    I suppose there is more succinct way to describe it, but I'll assume that first time, you'll miss the turnoff, and to emphasize, the two minutes backtracking is time well spent compared to the agony of riding up FS8322.
    Last edited by kenobonn; 07-08-2014 at 09:43 AM. Reason: specifics on what the sign says

  10. #10
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    How does our GPS track here: Ape Canyon / Plains of Abraham / Smith Creek

    look? Click the Navigation tab.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by r1de View Post
    How does our GPS track here: Ape Canyon / Plains of Abraham / Smith Creek

    look? Click the Navigation tab.
    Just noticed... I think I wrote the txt for the navigation tab/GPS file, but it looks like my GPS track was overwritten... so now they're out of sync. My track showed a loop from windy ridge, the "secret trail", but did not include marble mount sno park.

    let me know if you want me to upload my GPS track again.

    Looks great otherwise though!

  12. #12
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    Excellent beta

    Now I just need to know what kind of tires are needed to surf the pum. Not.
    "Fart in a paper bag, after eating the #17 plate from filibertos. STRAVA!" M77Ranger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    Just noticed... I think I wrote the txt for the navigation tab/GPS file, but it looks like my GPS track was overwritten... so now they're out of sync. My track showed a loop from windy ridge, the "secret trail", but did not include marble mount sno park.

    let me know if you want me to upload my GPS track again.

    Looks great otherwise though!
    Yeah, I was wondering about that - glad I asked! Although it's a great place to start from to summit Helens by splitboard in the winter , we don't need Marble Mountain on the GPS track; it's a distraction. And having the shortcut return route on the track is pretty important. You should still have privs to drop your track on there, so if yours is a better overlay for this route, go for it!

    One nice thing about the existing track is the little named waypoints being exposed; it would be cool to take advantage of that feature for tracks, when possible (ex. "Big Awesome Rock Pillar", "Slick Rock section", whatever).
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    let me know if you want me to upload my GPS track again.
    I would appreciate it if you could upload again.

    Some questions to those familiar with the route (a new gpx might answer these too):

    1) the current gpx shows a gap between Windy Ridge and the Smith Creek TH. When connecting this in a clockwise loop, is it recommended to ride via the Smith Creek trail? Or FR 99?
    2) as shown on the gpx, the ride is sort of a lollipop. I understand I can ignore the lowest ~ 5 miles of the "stick" that begins at Marblemount, but what about the top part ~ 5miles of the stick? (the portion that heads east from just south of Ape Canyon TH). Is this good riding?
    3) Does the gpx follow the secret trail?

    Thanks! I might hit this later this week.

  15. #15
    FM
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    OK I've updated the GPS track. It now shows a loop from windy ridge, the way I rode it, that should answer your questions. Uploading photos later today.

  16. #16
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    Thanks!
    That pretty much stupid-proofs it for me. Perhaps sad that I won't enjoy the classic first-timer, get-sorta-lost experience.

  17. #17
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    InertiaMan, This is a great ride, you’ll have fun. Remember that you’re riding on the south slope a volcano with very limited shade, start early and bring an extra water bottle.

  18. #18
    FM
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    I wonder if anyone has tried that route CCW?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    I wonder if anyone has tried that route CCW?
    So you could get that sweet road downhill and hike a bike up that horrible singletrack to windy ridge?

    Let me know how it goes

  20. #20
    FM
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    You'd get net descent on plains of Abe though, and more miles of DH overall I think.
    I don't ride the road, unless by road you mean the "secret trail".

  21. #21
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    Interesting thought… how many thousand feet of hike-a-bike would riding counterclockwise involve?

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    The "secret trail" was a road last time I did. I must've done it wrong...

    Personally, I do consider Plains of Abe OAB a fantastic ride, but don't consider Smith Creek loop a great ride. It doesn't add that much for me. But Plains of Abe is short as an OAB and so it's worth adding something extra on to make it more epic

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greydon Clark View Post
    Interesting thought… how many thousand feet of hike-a-bike would riding counterclockwise involve?
    2877'. I don't think much/any of it would be ridable.

    Trees4me, I kind of agree with you, the thing is that coming from up north, Smith creek TH is a lot less driving that plains of Abe TH. So it becomes a question of longer drive vs. longer ride.
    Of course there's also the option of doing plains OAB from windy ridge...

    Either way, nice to have options and the incredible scenery.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greydon Clark View Post
    InertiaMan, This is a great ride, you’ll have fun. Remember that you’re riding on the south slope a volcano with very limited shade, start early and bring an extra water bottle.
    I'm no stranger to big (or hot) rides, but thanks for the tip.

    I've done the Plains of Abe OAB in the past, but have never done the loop. Sounds like I shouldn't expect the loop to be 2X the pleasure of Plains, but for better or worse its on the tick list.

  25. #25
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    How would this loop be on a fat bike? Maybe a good tool on the pumice?

    A friend has been offering to loan me his Mukluk. I thought maybe this would be a good place to apply it. Probably biting off a big chunk for a first time fat bike ride, but I like diving in.

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