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  1. #1
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    Alpine Baldy - get it before winter!

    (info from my memory + some detail from Mike Westra)

    It's hard to believe given how few USFS trails are open bikes north of 90 and west of the cascade crest, but back in the 90s the USFS started planning this project. They then conveniently forgot about it, while remembering the Beckler Peak hiking trail portion, until the Wild Sky wilderness was passed in 2008. Glenn Glover then began encouraging the USFS to do something for mountain bikes in this area. Finally, Barry Collins, USFS Rec Mgr came on board and took the project seriously, and it began to move forward. Fast forward a few more years and Glenn and Mire (Bruiser on here) scouted the route on foot in August of 2013. In 2015, Evergreen held a saw cert class and we sawed on the first bit of road that was to be converted. A week later and Evergreen had sawed their way up to where the road ended and new trail would be constructed.

    Alpine Baldy - get it before winter!-saw.jpg

    Almost exactly three years later, and it's ready for action.

    About 5 miles of the 7.5 total is road to trail conversion. But, it's the least crappy road to trail conversion of any new trail in recent years (looking at you Hansen Ridge, upper Olallie, and Granite Lakes).

    Alpine Baldy - get it before winter!-3321608cfd1ea888bca3b11f3ff5964e.jpg

    After the road to trail conversion, the trails is a really nice climb along a ridgeline in old growth forest. I found this reminiscent of Oakridge, like a tighter version of the Jedi portion of the Alpine trail, and way smoother without shuttle traffic.

    Alpine Baldy - get it before winter!-e71541cd2c9ae47993b03915508d76e2.jpg

    As nice as the forested part is, there's no doubt the highlight is the meadow up top. Alpine Baldy refers to the summit area of this mountain with an unusual for the cascades high meadow on its upper reaches.

    Alpine Baldy - get it before winter!-d4e6bfc993fd5176a24f0ef976b96207.jpg

    Fall color up there is great right now, and while the trailhead was full yesterday, they were all hikers going to Beckler. I had AB completely to myself. It's worthy. If you can, get up there before the rain and snow hits.

    Big thanks to Glenn, JVP, Mike & crew, Mire and others for getting this thing done. Looking forward to phase 2.
    Last edited by ACree; 10-15-2018 at 07:50 PM. Reason: typo
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  2. #2
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    Wow.

  3. #3
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    Nice report Anthony. And many thanks to Glenn, JVP, Mike & crew, Mire and any others who were involved.

  4. #4
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    Is there a way to get some artificial roots installed in all of these road to trail conversions

  5. #5
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    Wish I would have seen this earlier today, doh. Looks amazing, definitely on my list for next week.
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  6. #6
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Really cool, thanks Anthony. I gotta get up there. This thing was a walking zombie when I was running BBTC/Evergreen. It first came across my desk in '02. It was an approved project from work done prior to my time, but we could never find near enough funding for it. I just love that Glenn, Mike and crew were able to push it forward and get it funded, using Wild Sky as leverage. So cool that we've got this org that can stick with these ultra-long term projects. It might be painfully slow at times, but when you never give up, you give results. If anyone bumps into Glenn, buy him a beer.

    Great to hear the road conversion part works. The higher grade road conversions, over 10%, just suck and aren't usually worth the cost, especially when the old road prism has lots of ballast and not much good soil is available.

    Glenn and I had lots of conversations about how hard we should push in the later phases of stuff between Hansen Ridge and Olallie State Park. Those roads have lots of 15%+ grades and blowouts, so not much chance of a great riding experience, and conversion would be wickedly expensive (but it's sometimes a different pot of money, so could be worth it if it's not poaching from trail funding). Better to wait until we can find the $200k and five years needed to do new studies/NEPA etc. and get approval for singletrack in that zone. It's SUCH a rad zone, but if you're forced to stay within the old road prisms it won't work. The battle continues...

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  7. #7
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    How dog-paw friendly is the fire road portion? I have a trail dog that can handle the distance/elevation fine, but i don't like taking him on gravel/quarry spall roads for any kind of distance if i can avoid it.

  8. #8
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    Its dramatically smoother and softer than say, Hansen Ridge or the upper portion of Olallie, and feels a lot more like singletrack IMO, but it does still have a solid roadbed underneath. I think the surface is pretty dog friendly, and I think Id be most concerned about the long sustained downhill on the return, where youd need to keep in mind the dogs prolonged effort. There are quite a few places where culverts were removed that do have running water a dog would enjoy.
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  9. #9
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    Yeah his pads are all good for hardpack, i just don't want him running on sharp quarry spall and gravel. As for the longer downhill descents, yeah i usually ride for a minute or two and then hang out till he catches his breath and starts getting distracted smelling things. Makes for a longer ride and ruins the flow of the trail a bit, but im not really going to backcountry-type trails to push it and blast down descents, you know? Thanks for the beta!

  10. #10
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    Rode it last weekend and it was a nice, well designed climb and super fast long descent. Frankly, not super good for dogs as the bottom 5 miles are just fully wide open 30mph skinny fire road blasting and after a long climb up, no dog is gonna be able to remotely keep up. But the trail tread was good and my pup had no pad issues, and like Acree said, there are good stream crossings for dog watering on the lower section. Really fun top section and incredible views for sure. Also, i was stunned at how much work went into building/converting all that trail, and also into maintenance. Looked like some folks were out there very recently grooming, raking and clearing drains. I couldn't get over how much obvious maintenance and work went into it.

    Now, don't get me wrong, i think it is a fun, well designed trail and its cool to have more backcountry-esque rides. But, it seems odd to me why so many resources went into it when it is far away, not ridden much, closed half the year for snow and is kind of a lower intermediate type ride. I feel like ive seen the number $1.2 million total for permitting + building over the years please correct me though. Curiously, does anyone know the cost comparison to what it took to build the current trails at raging river?

  11. #11
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Lots of people live in SnoCo. That region is basically a mountain biking desert with few trails, so there's HUGE need for trails out there. I'm personally into difficult trails, but mellow view rides are a part of our sport, and we need those trails too. There's rowdy stuff coming for Skykomish in the Muloney Ridge system. We need more of all these types of mtb trails.

    I don't know the budget, not involved in that stuff any more. I thought the trail was a much lower budget than that. But I suspect a good chunk is for road decommissioning anyway, which would have been done with or without a trail going in. Forest Service is under a mandate to either maintain their roads or rip them out. This being in Grizzly restoration zone provides an additional incentive to get rid of forest roads.

    I haven't been up there to see the finished trail, but you can't judge a trail like this in the first few years. How it wears/grows in over 5 years is the real test. Road conversion can be tough to get right, but when it does work, it takes regrowth of native veg before it feels right. I need to get up and check it out.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by juice View Post
    We need more of all these types of mtb trails.
    What he said!

  13. #13
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    No we desperately need new backcountry trails (as well as keeping claim on what we have now). Any trail up and out there in the mountains is worth the cost. I feel liike 90% of the modern MTB community really only cares about close to town shred, so maybe I am the wrong one here after all. But I say it was well worth it and I look forward to more trail up there. I was actually involve in some of the earliest dscussions about Alpine Baldy back in the 90's. I met up with a group of WTA and Wilderness folks at one of those new Starbucks coffee houses in Issaquah. They were trying get the club's buy in on Wild Sky and alpine Baldy was one of the bargaining chips. We had the maps out on the table and everything. I remember thinking it was a pretty small sop (and who knew if it would ever really get built LOL) for that giant chunk they were locking up into Wilderness.

    which makes my lack of a visit to the area much less my non-involvement in the trail work especially egregious.

  14. #14
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    It's obvious we just need a trail connecting Tokul to Alpine Baldy, something like Comfortably Numb would do just fine.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Preston67 View Post
    No we desperately need new backcountry trails (as well as keeping claim on what we have now). Any trail up and out there in the mountains is worth the cost. I feel liike 90% of the modern MTB community really only cares about close to town shred, so maybe I am the wrong one here after all. But I say it was well worth it and I look forward to more trail up there.
    100% agree. The more legal backcountry trails in the mountains the better, regardless of the cost.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Preston67 View Post
    No we desperately need new backcountry trails (as well as keeping claim on what we have now). Any trail up and out there in the mountains is worth the cost. I feel liike 90% of the modern MTB community really only cares about close to town shred, so maybe I am the wrong one here after all. But I say it was well worth it and I look forward to more trail up there. I was actually involve in some of the earliest dscussions about Alpine Baldy back in the 90's. I met up with a group of WTA and Wilderness folks at one of those new Starbucks coffee houses in Issaquah. They were trying get the club's buy in on Wild Sky and alpine Baldy was one of the bargaining chips. We had the maps out on the table and everything. I remember thinking it was a pretty small sop (and who knew if it would ever really get built LOL) for that giant chunk they were locking up into Wilderness.

    which makes my lack of a visit to the area much less my non-involvement in the trail work especially egregious.
    I agree that more backcountry wilderness trails are awesome. But I would expect something like Stafford Creek to be what i would be riding - essentially a non-changed hiking trail that now receives some trail maintenance from MTBers. Baldy was a fully sculpted and manicured 7 mile flow trail that obviously took a ton of money and resources to build and maintain in that condition. When im riding a wilderness trail im not looking for a flawless, bermed and shaped flow trail that would make a BMX dirt jumper proud, you know? I mean, it literally looked like someone had cleared all the drains and raked to perfection the entire trail within the past week. Something that is awesome and appreciated at high use trails systems like Galby/tokul/tiger/duthie, but seemed out of place at a backcountry type trail.

    To my fairly uneducated eye, it seems like money and time would be better spent opening up and maintaining existing hiking or moto trails for MTB, or roughing in new wilderness trails instead of building and mainting such a flawlessly sculpted new trail way out in a wilderness area. For the time and money spend on Baldy, it seems like 2 or 3 different wilderness trails could have been rehabbed/opened/built... the trail was THAT manicured and flawlessly shaped. Does anyone get what im saying?

  17. #17
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    In a perfect world, I'd agree completely. With AB, there are a host of issues at work.

    - Stafford is an old trail, 'built' (probably by use) by either hikers or horses. Back then grade and erosion just weren't considered the way they are now. Especially if built by MTB groups, new trail construction tends to be mellower grades and more engineered, and that is unlikely to change. For fun, go check nwhikers.net and read the rants about new trail construction by the WTA, particularly the new mailbox peak trail.

    - I would view AB as two trails. The road to trail portion and the singletrack portion. The road to trail portion is arguably the best road to trail conversion we've seen in WA to date, but IMO it still sucks compared to the real singletrack portion. The grades are too steep and sustained for pleasant climbing, and if it were a high traffic trail, would be perfect for user conflict from descending riders. MTBers are being used as pawns and tossed scraps by the USFS, Mountains to Sound, etc. with these conversions. We should be asking for actual trail, not converted logging roads.

    - The actual singletrack, yeah, its flowy, but it'll wear in as it gets use. Not every backcountry trail is rough. Abercrombie for instance, is also 7 plus miles of mostly smooth as glass singletrack, Basalt is another. But they're a lot more enjoyable, because they are actual singletrack, not expensive reworked logging road. We absolutely need more backcountry trails, but we also need quality on par with what other trail users are receiving. There's a reason Hansen ridge doesn't get a lot of use, and that's because it's sucky trail. Again, bikers used as pawns to get the roads removed by calling it mountain bike trail construction. If that's the standard for what we get, there not much point in the planned connection from Hansen to Olallie.

    - AB was the result of a compromise. It would have been more cost effective to have left Johnson ridge out of the Wilderness area and do a little maintenance on it. Instead, they took it as W, and ten years later we got AB.

    - Projects tend to be funded in large part by grants, which are usually project specific. Spending the funds on 2 or 3 other trails isn't an option if the funding is obtained this way. That said, I'd like to see more emphasis by Evergreen on backcountry maintenance instead of front country construction.

    AB could be truly epic were a trailhead built at the highway, the road closed, and actual singletrack built up to the current trailhead.

    @Preston67, I am surprised that with your love of trail work you missed on this project.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Californiagrown View Post
    Does anyone get what im saying?
    Well, yes and no.

    I tend to agree that rougher trails are more fun, but since I didn't contribute to the design and execution of AB, I have no basis to complain about it being too smooth or easy.

    I tend to think that the 410 trails are near perfect.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Well, yes and no.

    I tend to agree that rougher trails are more fun, but since I didn't contribute to the design and execution of AB, I have no basis to complain about it being too smooth or easy.

    I tend to think that the 410 trails are near perfect.
    Sorry i wasn't trying to remark on the level of the trail other than to point out to other curious folks that it was a mellow blue flow trail.

    I guess what i was trying to say, to put it bluntly, is that i think the cost associated with the type and build quality along with maintenance that went into this trail is pretty far out of line with what i understand its intended use to be - a backcountry type of trail. The level and extent of sculpting and grading and maintenance that i saw out there was in line with something you'd see at a fresh Duthie trail, or a private DJ spot. I just think such an obviously resource intensive build out there was pretty out of wack from a cost-benefit perspective. Thats why i was so curious about the total cost of the trail project.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Californiagrown View Post
    Sorry i wasn't trying to remark on the level of the trail other than to point out to other curious folks that it was a mellow blue flow trail.

    I guess what i was trying to say, to put it bluntly, is that i think the cost associated with the type and build quality along with maintenance that went into this trail is pretty far out of line with what i understand its intended use to be - a backcountry type of trail. The level and extent of sculpting and grading and maintenance that i saw out there was in line with something you'd see at a fresh Duthie trail, or a private DJ spot. I just think such an obviously resource intensive build out there was pretty out of wack from a cost-benefit perspective. Thats why i was so curious about the total cost of the trail project.
    I get it and I think most people do it's just hard to understand the nuances of specific funding for certain projects and how that affects the decisions on where to use the funding.

    For the cost of Alpine Baldy I imagine every other BC trail in Washington could have been logged and brushed out.

  21. #21
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Californiagrown View Post
    I just think such an obviously resource intensive build out there was pretty out of wack from a cost-benefit perspective. Thats why i was so curious about the total cost of the trail project.
    The thing about building trail is that what looks super expensive or super easy to the end-user, often is the exact opposite. Building trail by hand, you can just kill entire weeks on short sections of trail when you hit tough conditions. Breeze right through these with a machine, with the ability to quickly dig deeper and move away organics. Gotta go build a bunch of trails to understand this.

    Similarly, though not as relevant here, is that building trail on flattish terrain is brutally hard and expensive. A moderate side slope is way, way easier. Really steep side slopes are their own challenge. I'm just making the point again that what looks expensive or cheap may not be as it seems.

    I'm a hand-built trail lover, but I understand that to keep within budgets, machine built is often necessary. Buttery finish work you're referring too isn't that expensive when done by an experienced crew with a machine. It'll wear in to be narrower and less smooth, trust me.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by juice View Post
    The thing about building trail is that what looks super expensive or super easy to the end-user, often is the exact opposite. Building trail by hand, you can just kill entire weeks on short sections of trail when you hit tough conditions. Breeze right through these with a machine, with the ability to quickly dig deeper and move away organics. Gotta go build a bunch of trails to understand this.

    Similarly, though not as relevant here, is that building trail on flattish terrain is brutally hard and expensive. A moderate side slope is way, way easier. Really steep side slopes are their own challenge. I'm just making the point again that what looks expensive or cheap may not be as it seems.

    I'm a hand-built trail lover, but I understand that to keep within budgets, machine built is often necessary. Buttery finish work you're referring too isn't that expensive when done by an experienced crew with a machine. It'll wear in to be narrower and less smooth, trust me.
    Ive built a bit of trail, some of its steep rowdy DH, some of it the manicured flow/jump trail. Machine and hand built stuff. I understand that progress can be fickle in areas and super fast in others.

    Have you ridden Alpine Baldy? You should see it. the whole bottom 5 miles is rehabbed fire road where they rehabbed, bermed, and drained one tread, and then dug up, planted and installed logs and deadfall on the other. The top two miles are new single track that is a flawless 4' wide flow trail. And ALL of it, was impeccably maintained, raked, drains cleared, etc.

    Maybe it is an illusion as to how much money went into the project. Very well could be. Which is piquing my curiosity even more! haha.

  23. #23
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    Never underestimate the ability of a perfectly manicured trail to morph into something considerably less domesticated in a short amount of time.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  24. #24
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    Sometimes, after I've been on the business end of a shovel for a while, I dream about one of these. I know this is probably anathema to some. Not looking to start anything - just sharing a shovel induced daydream.

    Alpine Baldy - get it before winter!-trail-building-dozer.jpg

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Californiagrown View Post
    Ive built a bit of trail, some of its steep rowdy DH, some of it the manicured flow/jump trail. Machine and hand built stuff. I understand that progress can be fickle in areas and super fast in others.

    Have you ridden Alpine Baldy? You should see it. the whole bottom 5 miles is rehabbed fire road where they rehabbed, bermed, and drained one tread, and then dug up, planted and installed logs and deadfall on the other. The top two miles are new single track that is a flawless 4' wide flow trail. And ALL of it, was impeccably maintained, raked, drains cleared, etc.

    Maybe it is an illusion as to how much money went into the project. Very well could be. Which is piquing my curiosity even more! haha.
    It is a brand new trail. When I rode it three weeks ago, I met Mike W. loading up the mini-excavator after just having finished the road-bed work you mention above. So yes, "impeccably maintained" and "flawless" right now, right after it was built and newly opened, as anyone would expect.

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    I haven't ridden it yet but I'm thrilled we now have this option. It's amazing that the USFS is so restrictive to bikes in this part of the state. So massive props to Evergreen for getting this done. I'll be hitting it next summer.

    The only other legal high-mountain, alpine trail in the northwest Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie NF I know about is Canyon Ridge which doesn't appear to be a very good option. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/...a/?recid=17548

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by wavemaster View Post
    I haven't ridden it yet but I'm thrilled we now have this option. It's amazing that the USFS is so restrictive to bikes in this part of the state. So massive props to Evergreen for getting this done. I'll be hitting it next summer.

    The only other legal high-mountain, alpine trail in the northwest Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie NF I know about is Canyon Ridge which doesn't appear to be a very good option. https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/mbs/...a/?recid=17548
    That one might be a good candidate for rehabilitation by the mountain bike community. Some very nice country up there and great potential for a sweet trail.
    Last edited by Curveball; 1 Week Ago at 12:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    Never underestimate the ability of a perfectly manicured trail to morph into something considerably less domesticated in a short amount of time.
    Reminds me of Hansen Ridge. When it opened the downhil was a nice and fast bomb back to the car. Now it's a much more rocky and slow trail, definitely need to watch where you're going to avoid catching pedals or flatting.
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  29. #29
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    Does anyone know if it is still rideable? I was thinking about hitting it this weekend if possible.
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