After hearing about the amazing trails in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest and reading the reviews in Bike Magazine, Randy, Leigh, and myself decided to check it out.
We rode the Ape Canyon Trail on Saturday (6/26/04), which is an 22 mile out-and-back along the eastern slopes of Mt St Helens. The first 5.5 miles are pretty much all uphill through some beautiful old growth forest. We then emerged into a completely different and desolate landscape. The power of the volcano's eruption was obvious. Eventually, we reached Windy Ridge, which rewarded us with beautiful views of Mt St Helens, Spririt Lake, Mt Ranier, Mt Hood, and Mt Adams. The return trip seemed like it would never end, but alas we reached the old growth and enjoyed 5 miles of downhill singletrack.
After spending the night in a campground near Cougar, we checked out the Lewis River Trail on Sunday. We parked a car on the SW end at the Lewis River trailhead, then shuttled up to the Quartz Creek trailhead. The 15 mile trail included a lot of small, yet demanding climbs, but provided views of beautiful falls and gigantic trees.