Sunday, April 21, 2013

Training Ride: Swakane Canyon to Nahahum Canyon

So I thought I would post some photos of a fun training ride that we do on occasion.  We ride from our home town of Cashmere down to Monitor, then over to Wenatchee.  From there it is a short jaunt on the highway to Rocky Reach Dam.  Just after that you hang a left and head uphill on a lovely gravel/dirt road.

I did not take any photos of the boring paved sections, but they are quite pretty zipping up and down some gently rolling hills through the orchards.  I do recommend stopping at the Stutzman Ranch in the summer for a fresh nectarine when they are in season.  I would not recommend getting any fresh eggs as they will probably be scrambled before you make it up the Swakane.

The Swakane canyon is approximately 8.5 miles of uphill with 2200 feet of climbing.  Late spring and early summer are ideal times to ride this canyon.  Later it is likely to be pretty hot and the road will be more loose and dusty.  You might encounter a rattlesnake or two.  Right now they are mostly dormant.

The road opens up at the top late March through early April.  You might want to be prepared for a bit of snow in March.

If you are adventurous you can hang a right approximately 3.3 miles from the highway and ride up the closed to car traffic NFD 5215 road and make a nice alternate ride to the top.  Here is a link to a website with a description of that ride.

I stayed on the main road and headed up.  The canyon starts out with a plowed field on the left and on the right flowers and sage brush on the high hills climbing to the ridges. This weekend the arrow leaf balsam root were in full bloom and the lupines are coming out. Eventually you get to the public lands and a wildlife area, with no farming on either side of the road.

If you are lucky and do the ride midweek you may encounter deer, and possibly bighorn sheep that live in the area.  Of course there are cougars etc. as well,  I have never seen them but I am sure they have seen me.

Arrow Leaf Balsam Root
The wildlife viewing opportunities are a bit limited on the weekends due to various and assorted 2nd amendment enthusiasts and the like who enjoy shooting their high-powered rifles at targets.   Most are very friendly and responsible shooting at targets well off the roadway.  I did run across a family of morons this afternoon who were shooting their paintball rifle across the road.  They stopped when they saw me.  I thought of some choice words but refrained as I saw they had consumed a quantity of fermented beverages and did not think it wise to upset them.  I rather like the color of my bike and don't want a new paint job.  Not mention paintballs sting when they hit.

The farther up the canyon you travel the fewer people you will see.  Toward the top are a series of beaver ponds and marshy areas that are quite pretty and I saw several mating pairs of ducks.

The top of the canyon is more treed.  You can continue on the road, or as I did head up on a short single track section through a meadow.  At the top of the single track you can zip along another forest service road and come out at the top of Nahahum Canyon.
View of Nahahum 

Nahahum is a beautiful ride in itself.  The top affords views of Cashmere and beyond.  From here many opportunities for extending the ride exist by heading northwestward.  You can ride the ridges and drop down in to Leavenworth or Entiat.  Keep going and eventually you will end up at the SugarLoaf lookout.  A great all day ride for later in the summer.
SugarLoaf Lookout

I coasted down Nahahum back to Cashmere,  The top mile or two of the canyon are dirt and can be muddy or washed out in early spring, and loose later on.   The bottom of the canyon is an easy coast down a smooth paved road with lots of fun curves through some ranches and rural homes.  Even on fat tires I averaged about 30 mph.

Once you get to the bottom of the canyon take a right and ride to the 2nd exit to Cashmere at Aplets way.  Just across the bridge are two great choices for post ride recovery food and drink.  Milepost 111 Brewery and Country Boys BBQ
Entiat Ridge Views

Here is a link to a map of the ride.  Have fun!


  1. Enjoying your blog so far. Keep up the good work.
    I'm following a friend via SPOT tracker on his second Tour Divide this year. I'll watch for you as well.
    Good luck.

  2. Thanks Wilson. The SPOT stalking is fun. Looking forward to watching this years TD and then taking part in 2014.


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