Trail:Kettle Crest trails
From Evergreen Trail Guide
This trail system consists of over 110 miles of unique mostly sub alpine singletrack all currently open to mountain bikes. The Kettle Crest Trail itself stretches for an impressive 40 miles reaching from the Colville Indian Reservation to the North nearly stretching into Canada. Elevation of the trail varies from the bottom of the spur trails ranging mostly 3 to 4 thousand feet of elevation. Kettle Crest itself runs at around 5 to 6 thousand feet in elevation, as the trail constantly climbs up and down various peaks and saddles.
So a ride at Kettle Crest Trails will usually involve riding the Kettle Crest Trail, but at different segments. Since i've lead many a ride i'll share some key segments.
- Thirteen Mile Trail/Bear Pot Trail
This trail is off the Kettle Crest and starts in the Colville Indian Reservation at Thirteen Mile Campground off of Highway 21. Rising above the Sanpoil River drainage into beautiful rocky cliffs, the steep rocky trail quickly ends, the trail smooths and takes you along the rolling hills above the basin. Affording splendid views of the valley below. Bear Pot is one of the very short spur trails that takes you to the site of an old cabin. You can continue on a forest service road to Ninemile Falls Trail to see Ninemile Falls, it's a hiking only trail, but it's only .3 miles long in the middle of nowhere, so stashing or walking your bike is not a problem.
- Snow Peak Trail/Snow Peak Cabin/Kettle Crest South
This section of trail is fantastic. Very challenging rocky terrain, mixed with smooth singletrack. Outstanding views of the West side of the Crest with the grand Snow Peak looming above, as well as a nice cabin that is rented out by the forest service. If it's vacant there is no better place to get some shade on the porch and hang your helmet for a spell.
- Sherman Peak Loop
This section consists of rounding Sherman Peak. Easily accessed by riding from Sherman Pass. Cross the road and ride up Kettle Crest South. Riding up immaculate shaded forest up fun challenging rocky terrain. The trail T's with Kettle Crest moving East and Sherman Loop Trail heading West. They meet together again on the Southwest side of Sherman Peak, where Kettle Crest continues towards Snow Peak Cabin. It is highly recommended to ride the loop clockwise. As you ride around from the North either side you quickly enjoy the expansive views that are afforded as a result of the 1988 White Mt. fire.
- Kettle Crest North/Columbia Mountain Loop
This section of trail is also accessed by riding from Sherman Pass. Heading north on a pleasant climb through wooded forest, with the occasional open field revealing more views. The first spur trail to the right climbs you up towards a loop trail on Columbia Mountain. Yet another spur trail on this loop will take you atop Columbia Mountain to an old Fire Lookout Cabin. The tree's have since grown in and obscured any view up there, however if you drop the bikes and explore the rocky section off trail on the North Side you can get some of the best panoramic views to be had in the area. Columbia Mountain Trail on the East side does have some exposure.
- Sherman Trail/Kettle Crest North/Jungle Hill
A longer ride which follows much the same route at the Columbia Mountain Loop. Starting from Jungle Hill Campground and riding up the Sherman Trail to Sherman Pass. There you continue past Columbia Mountain climbing and descending on sometimes rocky trail, but mostly smooth meandering singletrack. Down a series of switchback and a grunt of a climb up towards Jungle Hill. Jungle Hill Trail is a fun smooth race down through open field and forest.
- Old Stage Coach/Midnight Ridge
Old Stage Coach Trail is the remaining segment of the first Washington State Highway. A doubletrack trail important in it's historical significance. Combined with a descent back off the Crest on Midnight Ridge Trail. Which is a smooth friendly sloped trail that takes you through old growth forest and wildflower riddled field.
- Stickpin/Ryans Cabin/Kettle Crest North
The very north section of singletrack that can be accessed from Boulder Deer Creek Summit. Fantastic varied epic singletrack, a can't miss experience with views, even shaded pockets of lush wet forest which is a rare so far east. The Stickpin descent is a smooth fast roller, make sure your helmet chinstrap is secured.
These are but highlights of many options of the many trail experiences that are to be had. Kettle Crest Trail provides a perfect unique backcountry epic cross-country experience and access should be protected.
How to find it
Kettle Crest is in the Colville National Forest, in the North East corner of Washington State. The most popular access to the trail is on Sherman Pass on Highway 20, in between the towns of Republic and Kettle Falls. Kettle Crest Trail meanders North/South atop the Kettle Range and the trail system also composes of many trails that spur off the mountain range at assorted points across. All of these spur trails eventually wind up ending on these roads. These roads are mostly forest service fire roads, some easily drivable, some get pretty primitive and require AWD or 4WD.
Dry and hot in summer, covered in snow in winter.
This is where folks will report how the trails were on a recent day.
This is where you describe the trail and route in detail.
Local Points of Interest
Here you might list nearby places to get a bite to eat, nearby bike shops, etc.
Here you mention anything that doesn't fit in the other categories.
Colville National Forest Planning Revision Collaboration
Update 04/08/09 by Al Casile
How does the song go? Something about long and strange trip ??? It has been both, for sure. It has been 3 months of me being asked to give up the Kettle Crest (Crest) for a promise of trails elsewhere in the Colville National Forest. Every time I respectfully say "No" and ask the conservationist about alternatives. "Would you consider redrawing the boundaries so the trails aren't in your proposal?" "Would you consider alternative protections such a national protection or conservation area legislation?" And the answer is "No" For 3 months, the answer has been "No"...until this week. The week after a proposal was made at a Roundtable meeting that advocated, among other things, for alternative protection designation for the lands on which the Crest and much of the other trails we ride reside on. And go figure...all this was done while I went on a family vacation in Moab to...of all things...ride my bike.
And what was the answer this week? Well...it was still "No" but with a caveat and that caveat was access to the 13 mile long Jungle Hill Loop. From one prominent Evergreen member, I was told this was unacceptable...that a loss of 30 miles of the Crest and all the trails which branch from it was REALLY unacceptable. So I go back to it in order to try to eek out more miles for all of us, but this time I have a little more hope.
Update 01/09/10 by Al Casile
Since I gave my last update, four meetings have been held regarding the proposed recommendation for Proposed Wilderness Areas for the Colville National Forest and almost two months have passed, all the meetings have included emotional testimony for and against Wilderness. At times, I saw my task as completely daunting. However, at the time of writing this update, I think we as mountain bikers have reached an unprecedented opportunity for preserving mountain bike access to the Kettle Crest trails within the Colville National Forest.
So what is this unprecedented opportunity? We have an opportunity to draft legislation that protects the land and preserves our ability to access it. In addition, the legislation will address the conservationist's need to a) preserve the “wilderness characteristics” of the Kettle Crest and (b) do so with management practices that could not be changed...ever. There is the catch...writing a piece of legislation that prescribes management practices. This catch is one of the two reasons why this opportunity is unprecedented. The other reason this opportunity is unprecedented is because IF ALL the players at the table agree to the legislation, AND IF it passes, a new tool will exist to reduce the conflicts between wilderness and mountain bike access advocates. I know these are big "IFs", but I truly believe a new precedent must be set.
I'll continue to gather support for this proposed legislation in upcoming meetings. I'll be presenting my initial draft on January 20th to the Recreation and Access Subcommittee of the Colville Collaboration Roundtable.
Update 11/16/09 by Al Casile
Today, advocacy efforts are on their way with an initial, informal meeting with Derrick Knowles of The Lands Council and Mike Peterson of Conservation NW in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. After some discussion regarding my experience with MTB advocacy and trail construction, we discussed the primary focus of the groups we represented. Both Derrick and Mike understood that Evergreen, IMBA, and the Fat Tire Trail Riders Club of Spokane's primary focus was too not lose access to the current system of trails in the Kettle Crest area. I reiterated the sentiment by telling them that I understood their positions on conservation and their focus on wilderness designation. We all agreed that some concessions may be necessary to acheive protection of the area. I was adamant in representing the fact that mountain bikers valued the area for the same reasons they did...the solitude, the pristine nature, and scenic vistas. Derrick and Mike both stated that they looked forward to working with mountain bikers not only in this process, but also in the upcoming Colville National Forest Management Plan Revision process.
The first formal meeting of the Access & Recreation Subcomittee will be November 18.
Northeast Washington Forestry Coalition Roundtable
Update 11/5/09, edited by Al Casile 01/28/10
Advocacy efforts are underway in the Colville National Forest as members of Evergreen and FTTRC in Spokane are actively engaged in talks involving the future of the forestlands and particularly the Kettle Crest Trail system. Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers assembled a group of stakeholders including local government agencies, environmental groups, among a handful of other groups. This roundtable is currently being moderated by staffers from Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers offices.
Unfortunately mountain bikers were not suitably represented at the onset of these meetings. Al Casile offered to step up and represent mountain bikers on behalf of Evergreen, Fat Tire, and IMBA. Through efforts in petitioning, mountain bikers were succesful in being afforded a legitimate seat during these discussions. A special thanks to Al Casile for stepping up and working on our behalf. Evergreen and mountain bikers can also be thankful to John Stensgar representing the Colville Confederated Tribes as he petitioned for our user-group to be able to have a seat.
Evergreen is excited at the future opportunities of being able to sit at the table and work out solutions. Much of the meeting will be focused on Wilderness Designation and other protections, as there are 21 Roadless Areas within the Colville Forest currently under the Wilderness Review Process. Wilderness Designation unfortunately does not provide access for mountain biking recreation. There are other user-groups at the table with many concerns, and there are many diverse, if not polarized viewpoints at the table. So we are excited at the opportunity to speak up on behalf of mountain bikers, for it's our understanding that we are similar minded to others at the table, in that we want what's best for protecting these splended forest lands. And so there is hope that at the very least we can have a better opportunity to help bridge gaps, gain trust, and galvanize relationships as we move forward in this collaborative effort.
In July we gathered for a successful Advocacy Fest. Riders from across Washington State, and Idaho came out to enjoy the 5 day event. We were 27 workers strong for a work party where we fixed drainage issues on the wide path that is Old Stage Coach Trail. Under the direction of Dave Lent from the Republic Ranger Office we terraformed tread, re-establishing and creating drainage, in line with keeping the natural character of the area. Rides included riding Old Stage to Midnight Ridge, Hoodoo Canyon, Jungle Hill Loop, and Snow Peak Cabin Ride. Meeting new riders, growing our networks, and just plain having some fun in a grand atmosphere made for great memories.
Kettle Fest 10 is targeted for 14-18, with rides and a work party. We've reached out to Pend Oreille Pedallers and a few riders have expressed interest in attending, so we're excited to meet new riders and share great trail.
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance will be working with the Republic Ranger District to coordinate a work party as part of an Advocacy Festival. More information can be obtained on this page
A new version of the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (HR 980 in the 111th Congress) has been introduced in the House; this bill proposes that the Kettle Crest area become Wilderness, along with a large number of other areas in the northern Rockies, primarily in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Jay Inslee (Democrat from Washington's 1st District) has signed on as a co-sponsor.
Located up in the northeastern corner of Washington State is the Colville National Forest. Created on March 1st, 1907, the 1.1 million acre forest includes the Kettle River, Selkirk mountain range, and the upper reaches of the Columbia River. Currently the area is open to a host of recreational activities including hiking, horses and bikes. But the Forest Service (FS) is asking the public for input on which of 21 Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRA’s) it should recommend to Congress for Wilderness designation. This could potentially be a detrimental decision for special places like Kettle Crest which are highly valued backcountry riding areas.
The Forest Service is currently in the process of hosting a series of public workshops to help the agency evaluate the IRAs within the Forest for potential recommendation as wilderness. Each workshop evaluates a particular set of IRA’s within each geographic area. These evaluations of IRAs for potential wilderness recommendations are a requisite step in the forest plan revision process (which takes place every 15 to 20 years). While an agency recommendation does not necessarily designate an area as Wilderness (Congress is the only entity that may designate Wilderness), it would establish obvious agency support for potential Wilderness areas for the first time ever and obligate the Forest Service to manage the area to retain its wilderness character. The plus side here is that most FS staff understand that bicycling does not compromise the land's ability to become Wilderness. The downside is that it’s debatable.
So where are we in the Wilderness Designation Process? Currently we are in the midst of the Forest Service evaluating potential wilderness areas (PWA’s). This is the second step in a 7 step process that the FS must follow to fulfill their requirements to identify, evaluate, and recommend lands to add to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The steps that the Forest Service must take towards wilderness designation are as follows:
- Inventory Potential Wilderness Areas – The Forest Service completes an inventory of qualifying lands following criteria in the FS Handbook. This inventory sets the stage for NEPA analysis, but isn’t a NEPA decision-making process.
- Evaluate PWA’s – The FS evaluates PWA’s as part of their forest plan revision process (which takes place every 15 to 20 years). Evaluations assess capability of offering wilderness character, availability based on all resource values, and need to fulfill important functions of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
- Forest Supervisor Proposes Recommended Wilderness – In the proposed land management plan the Forest Supervisor proposes which PWA’s may be recommended for wilderness designation (the recommendation can refine the proposed boundaries to include fewer acres, but it can’t include others not already included in the PWA inventory).
- Environmental Analysis & Public Comment – Proposed recommendations are included in the land management plan and are supported by NEPA analysis and decision-making. The public is asked to review and recommend adjustments to the administrative recommendation.
- Forest Supervisor Recommends Wilderness – In the decision for the proposed land management plan, the Forest Supervisor identifies which PWA’s are recommended for wilderness.
- Recommendation Goes To Washington D.C. - Recommendation goes to the Chief of the Forest Service. The Chief may elect to forward recommendations with bill wording to the Secretary of Agriculture. Administration may elect to transmit the proposed bill to Congress.
- Congress Designates Wilderness – Congress may enact the proposed bill into law, resulting in designated wilderness.
Now, the process outlined above is specific to the FS based on their FS Manual. It differs when other propose Wilderness designation. It should also be made clear that Wilderness designation is an act of Congress and is more of a political decision and not necessarily based wholly on the process outlined above.
Evergreen is watching this process closely and will keep folks up to date on future developments. There is a coalition of groups pushing for Wilderness designation in the Kettle Crest area. Wilderness would mean loss of access to the trails for mountain bikes.
Act Now! Please email the Forest Service and let them know of your desire for continued trail access for mountain bikes. Every single email is important. Send your email to email@example.com.
Sample email -
- Dear Forest Plan Revision Team,
- Please preserve mountain bike access to trails in the Colville National Forest. The current proposals to turn areas such as Kettle Crest into Wilderness would ban mountain bikes from some of the most scenic and spectacular trails in the country.
- As a mountain biker, I support the preservation of our forests, but encourage you to use means other than Wilderness to protect our trails. Mountain bikers are responsible, low impact users who want to work with the Forest Service to protect these amazing natural resources in a way that benefits all responsible trail users.
- Thank you for your interest in maintaining mountain bike access in the Colville National Forest.
- xxxxx Your Name xxxxx
Ferry County Collaboration Workshop Update
By: Tim Banning (11/1/08)
On Saturday Nov 1st, I attended a meeting concerning a Forest Revision within the Colville National Forest. There are multiple areas within the Colville and Okanogan National Forests that are currently Roadless Areas and are being pushed by a funded well organized coalition to be recommended Wilderness Designation.
The intention of the meeting was to focus on 5 separate areas and to further examine and bring up points for each specific area that would help Rick Brazell Colville Forest Supervisor make a determination on if he should recommend Wilderness. Also included were the options for recommending Backcountry Non-Motorized, and Backcountry Motorized designations.
The meeting was 8 hours, around a hundred people showed, and we were split randomly into several smaller workshops. At the end of the process some group members were picked to speak and summarize our findings to the re-assembled group. Many groups came back to report that they were divided and we were told our particular group was the most informed, and best behaved functional group. It consisted of 4 members of the coalition, who were pro-wilderness, 2 people who represented a more neutral stance, A local former President of Backcountry Horsemen Chapter, an older disabled couple, a Public Lands Commissioner, a local gentlemen who had timber interest, and myself, all who were pro-backcountry.
I ended the day with a better understanding on the process and how the coalition works to push for their agenda.
Key areas we commented about were Cougar Mountain & Thirteen Mile. These areas contain the Thirteen Mile Trail. Bald Snow is Kettle Crest South and all spur trails from Sherman Pass to Barnaby Buttes. Profanity is Kettle Crest North and all spur trails from Sherman Pass to Deer Creek Summit. Wilderness Designation would effectively eliminate access to mountain bikes for the entire 110 mile trail system. The coalition made clear their intention was they want Wilderness Designation for every segment, and intend on pushing for more. Profanity was viewed upon as a "crown jewel".
Before studying each individual area a Forest Service Ranger would provide a qualified background examining the whole gambit of issues including recreation, wildlife etc. A coalition member made a statement before we started the meeting asking to discount these accounts because he maintained that they are not accurate. This allowed them to make baseless arguments not supported by fact, personal account, or experience. For instance a Forest Ranger examined that XC ski trails in snow allow for larger predators to hinder a Lynx from inhabiting the area, but that the snow in this area is such that predators can move up into the mountains without the assistance of a groomed snow path. So that means the Lynx will not be affected by a change to Wilderness Designation.
We were instructed by the Forest Service to consider Wilderness as it's stated in the 1964 act, with no revisions or alterations. Constantly coalition members would interject with claims that revisions and alterations would be made to support their argument. So for instance when the local Backcountry Horseman stated that trails are currently logged out with chainsaws, and that the impossible task of clearing trail with hand tools would be daunting, a coalition member was quick to state that there could possibly be an exception for chainsaws to be used.
I came away with a view that I would like to preserve recreation in Kettle Crest for generations to come. And I think most all people in the group had sympathy for our plight, even a member of the coalition confided to me he had a mountain bike, and could understand my thought process on protecting access for our recreation. All the same I left thinking about the aged disabled couple who attended who were afraid that Wilderness would hinder their ability to access trails because they cannot climb over blow down/deadfall. It's difficult to not think about the Backcountry Horseman who's put in countless hours volunteering for the trails, who better to be qualified in understanding how different the woods are, and how much more blow down/deadfall occurs there, than even what we're used to here on the coast. He understands as do I, that recreationally speaking trails will not get maintained and will benefit only Backcountry Hikers if Wilderness get's pushed through. And I think of all the locals and the fear they have of forest fires. Wilderness allows fire to burn until which time it get's close to the borders. The dry hot climate during fire season will effectively result in the entire forest being turned into ash; members of the coalition seemed pretty content to allow this to happen as this is following the natural course of events. I would interject that people don't move as my tribe did, to other areas that were not turned into wasteland, and the forest has already been logged, so we're not starting with a healthy forest with big trees that are spread apart in a real world natural scenario. Instead there is a massive tinderbox which is evident to anyone that has been there, they see the power of the fires and they really need no assistance in the area.
To the coalition of pro-Wilderness advocates, they made it clear that their intention is to make as much of Colville National Forest Wilderness and to them this is just a start. They filled in the pro-Wilderness comment box with an abundance of statements. Some of them that could be stated for Backcountry Designations just as easily, such as "X" designation supports a spiritual outlet to enjoy solace in nature. And even some outrageous statements that Wilderness will improve the local economy as people will look upon a map and see Wilderness Designation and flock to recreate there, and buy homes and cabins in the area. They seemed very content to promise a lot based on very little, and failed to adequately address the concerns people had about Wilderness.
Talking with Margaret Hartzell she was very happy to see someone from the mountain biking community and a tribal member of the Colville Tribe attending. She also stated that she had received many letters so I’m happy to report she was aware of our outreach. I'm also happy in stating that mountain biking was brought up in other groups, so for the most part we as a user-group are well thought of there.
Kettle Crest Rides Link to map/directions for premier routes.
Colville Public Collaboration Effort homepage. You can get all the information you need here!
This User Comment Form is sent to the Forest Plan Revision Team.
FTTRC is the local advocacy group, based in Spokane. You can contact them for more information, or if you'd like to hook up with some of them for a ride.
Spokesman Review article about mountain bikers and Wilderness that mentions Kettle Crest.
Forest Service publication about the Forest Plan Revision.
MTBR Press Release Kettle Fest 09 sponsored by New Belgium, MTBR.com, Niner Bikes, MSC Bikes, Joyride Cycles, and attended by riders representing Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Fat Tire Trail Riders Club, and SouthWest Idaho Mountain Biking Association.