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Smith Creek

Average Rating:    (3.67 of 5)

No. of Reviews: 6

North end has some nasty switchbacks, with a lot of loose pumice. Level out, with 3-4 creek crossings. Not a problem. This trail has been adopted by Silver Star Search and Rescue http://silverstarsar.org. We have done alot of trail maintenance in July/August 2002. A major washout has been corrected, and some redirects made. Used by the Pedal the Pinchot ride, in July. At the south end, you can take a shaky foot bridge across (not recommended by the Forest Service), or take a 2.2 mile detour up Lava Canyon. Mountain bikes are not allowed any further up Lava Canyon than the bridge. Watch out for a couple of areas that you can come up on fast. Can ride as part of the Ape Canyon, Windy Ridge system as a loop. Start at Ape Canyon, and you might want to leave another car at the Lower Smith Creek Trailhead, to avoid the last 4 miles uphill on FR8322. Beautiful ride.
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Latitude
46.18458451637958
Longitude
-122.13432312011719
Trail Directions
Top trail head: 99 Road to Windy Ridge, about 1 mile from Windy Ridge viewpoint. Lower trail head: from SR 503 to the 90 road, north on 83 road to Lahar Viewpoint, like you are going to Ape Canyon/Lava Canyon. Turn right just before the official viewpoint, on the 8322 road. Go to the end.
Trail Length
9 miles
Trail Level
Trails for all skill levels
Trail Type
Singletrack
City/County
Cougar
Web Address
   


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Reviews 1 - 5 (6 Reviews Total) View All | Next 5

Review Date
July 27, 2011

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 4 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Every few months

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Reviewed by: fselker ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
As loop with Ape Canyon / Plains of Abraham it's one of the best rides I know. Loop takes 4-7 hours, depending on your speed. Varied trail and environment, beautiful, good workout, remote - it's a great day. The descent into Smith Creek is loose pumice - an acquired taste, but fun once you get used to it. Two ways out - one across a bridge, through campground, up gravel road; and other is an earlier poorly marked right turn at the bottom that goes up an old road. Either requires about 45 minutes of steady climbing, so save some juice for the end.

I would rate it intermediate in technical difficulty but pumice descent is tricky the first time and it has a few other spots that are tricky or have exposure (and are easy to walk).

Recommended Route:
Up Ape Canyon, over Plains of Abraham, past Windy Ridge visitor center, down Smith Creek, right on poorly marked abandoned road.



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Review Date
September 20, 2009

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 5 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 5 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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Reviewed by: Rock Magnet ,  Weekend Warrior

Summary:
We descended this trail 9/20/2009 as part of Ape Canyon / Windy Ridge clockwise loop. This is the total package! Upper section dropping into Smith Creek drainage has loads of pumice surfing and extremely tight switchbacks that go on for as long as I could tolerate. The canyon bottom is interesting and varied. Trail is easy to follow , having been brushed out above and with large wooden posts periodically in drainage bottom. One place you could miss the trail is when the trail makes a sharp R turn off the sandy bench that drops you down to the creek level for the very first time and crosses straight across the creek (west?). It appears a lot of folks headed straight downriver and ended up ???. We were able to avoid the 2 mile detour up the Lava Cyn section towards the end as the creek was low by the old washed out bridge making it possible to wade across. Scrambling up the 40' cliff on the other side was pretty extreme though... The 5 miles uphill grunt on gravel road is unpleasant. Look out for bowhunters prowling the woods in large trucks...I loved this ride and would vote it my all-time favorite (as part of Ape Cyn loop) had I not descended the upper section of the McKenzie River just yesterday.

Recommended Route:
Ape Canyon to Plains of Abraham to Windy Ridge and down into Smith Creek drainage. I would never attempt to do this loop in counterclockwise direction - pedaling up and out of Smith Creek drainage would not be possible, leaving you with a horrific 2-3 mile hike-a-bike up deep and steep pumice pebbles.



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Review Date
August 17, 2009

Overall Rating
 5 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 4 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

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Reviewed by: jarredjackman ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
Ridden 8.17.2009 as a loop from Ape Canyon. This ride is a classic!!! It has the most diverse ecosystem of any ride I've ever done. Smith Creek is definitely more primitive than Ape Canyon, but it's amazingly good still. There's definitely loose pumice, and some impossibly hard rock sections, but there are some amazingly fun trees areas, the pumice is challenging and fun, the scenery is excellent, and Smith completes the loop. This is the THE ride to do in this area from what I can tell. It was about 29 miles for us with something like 5000' of climbing I think. It's great, go get it, don't be daunted! The more it gets ridden the better it will become. Don't skid on the loose stuff.

Recommended Route:
Clockwise from Ape Canyon through to Smith Creek.



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Review Date
June 1, 2009

Overall Rating
 3 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 4 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Every few months

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Reviewed by: ujelang ,  Cross Country Rider

Summary:
The Smith Creek trail was brushed out in the summer of 2009. It is now useable - unless winter 2009-10 damage has changed things. If the trail is ridden as an out and back then it is best accessed from the south on the closed extension of Forest Service Road 83 (found between the Ape Canyon trailhead and Lava Canyon parking lots0. That portion of the road is signed 'road closed' - but it is open to mountain bike use. At the bottom of the canyon turn left and head upstream. In an easy day's ride you can reach the bottom of the climb back out on the north side of the canyon. There will be fords at Ape Canyon creek and higher up when crossing Smith Creek.
If you plan on doing the Ape Canyon/Smith Creek epic loop then ride it in a clockwise direction. The climb out of the north side of the canyon is too steep to ride and it is very hot with sun reflected off the pumice. You will dehydrate in that climb and there's no water until you get back to your cars. I have drunk the water from the uppermost stream before the climb out of the canyon without any troubles. The loop from the Ape Canyon Trailhead parking is 25 miles with 5,000 feet of climbing. There are several rarely seen waterfalls visible from the loop.

Recommended Route:
From Cougar, WA on the south drive east. Follow signs to Lava Canyon. Use the Ape Canyon Trailhead parking lot. Buy Recreation Day Pass at Lava Canyon, Ape Cave, or a season's permit can be purchased at the Lone Fir Resort in Cougar.

Other recommended trails in the same area:
Ape Canyon Trail; Lewis River Trail; Siouxon Creek Trail.
Later on in the summer of 2009 the Loowit, Butte Camp, Toutle, and Sheep Canyon Trails should be fun. Those trails are on the west side of Mount St Helens. The Toutle trail is open to horses.



Comments
ujelang (07/28/2009)
If using the old Forest Service Road 83 as an exit out of Smith Creek it is in pretty good condition as of July 2009. There are a few trees downed, but their limbs have been trimmed so they are fairly easy to get over, around or under. Initial reports from a group of 17 riders who did the loop on July 4, 2009 is that the Smith Creek trail is in the best condition that is has been in - since it was built.
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Review Date
July 27, 2008

Overall Rating
 1 of 5

Aerobic Difficulty
 3 of 5

Technical Difficulty
 3 of 5

Ridden Trail:
Ridden Once

Visitors rate this review
5.00 of 5, 1.00 votes

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Reviewed by: rsanders@pdx.edu ,  Racer

Summary:
Total bushwack. Especially the upper half. Epic irritation. Trail seems like it hasn't been maintained since the last review (5 years ago).

Recommended Route:
My only recommendation would be to take a work party or out n back Ape Canyon instead; it's way better. Too bad, I was looking forward to a nice loop.



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Reviews 1 - 5 (6 Reviews Total) View All | Next 5
 


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