From Evergreen Trail Guide
Palisades has it all - technical singletrack, beautiful forests, good climbing, fun descents, technical sections and views of Mt. Rainier from the Palisade Cliffs that will blow your mind.
How to find it
Go East on Hwy 410 from Enumclaw about 28 miles and park on the highway at a turnout/wide area just below the lower White River Trailhead. A forest pass is not required here. Start on the White River Trail and go a couple hundred yards to the bottom of the Palisades Trail.
Access to the top can be done from riding White River Trail to Ranger Creek Trail and climbing to the log shelter. Also can be accessed on the backside by taking Rd 72, riding Noble Knob Trail to Dalles Ridge Trail to Ranger Creek Trail then descending to the shelter. The most popular route is White River to Rd. 7174 to Noble Knob Trail to Ranger Creek Trail to the shelter.
The usual parking besides the lower White River Trailhead turnout, for riding Palisades Trail will be at Camp Sheppard (east side of 410) or at either end of the Skookum Flats trail.(west side, Rd 73, or Rd 7160 Buck Creek Rd). Forest Passes are required at these parking areas.
Fairly technical singletrack with exposure. The upper section features breathtaking views off a sheer cliff face, and the middle section is somewhat similar to Tiger Mountain's Preston trail - fast, flowing descent with lots of roots. The lower section is an extreme switchback-laden, rock-garden-riddled, and steep wooden staircase hike-a-bike (some describe it as a bit of a buzz-kill). Well drained throughout, buff and smooth up top, rugged and rooty in the middle, and rocky and loose on the bottom.
The junction of Ranger Creek and Palisades is at 4900 ft, and Noble Knob is much higher so check snow levels before you head out.
Trail clear of snow and blowdowns from Ranger Creek shelter on down. Jackd49 09:34, 27 May 2013 (PDT)
Trail is in perfect condition, and we found that the lowest parts of the trail (below the stairs) are comparatively more rideable now than ever before. [misterlevitan 08:51 22 July 2012 (PDT)
Most people will descend this trail starting from log shelter where the trail intersects with Ranger Creek Trail. Yet it's not unheard of for a hearty climber to attempt to ascend, and in doing so provides ample opportunities to further examine the epic views.
Directly after the log shelter to the Palisade cliffs the trail climbs and descends on mostly benched singletrack that have it's share of rooty and rocky terrain that take a high level of skill to navigate. However for the most part the trail is a pleasant run through stands of Doug Fir and of course when the trail runs out toward the cliffs the views are captivating. You can see the top of Mt. Rainier and the White River valley below. There is a small airplane runway in the river valley, and if you're lucky you may see a plane take off, but generally it will never ascend to a height above your lookout.
From the cliffs to the stairs, the trails mostly descends from this point. Less severe grades, and fewer technical obstacles, although there has been an introduction of logs that span across the trail before the bridge. While this section has fewer views, the trail sweeps through the forest. At one point after you run across a small creek drainage you run out across an old clearcut. Through the field of new trees you immediately are enveloped into a tight twisty stretch of fairly new growth forest that has never been thinned. So there is a delightful element of contrast through the variance of forest growth. The bridge to the junction of White River Trail is a mostly hike a bike section. The tight twisty switchbacks and rocky cliff terrain make for such a high level of difficulty and consequence only advanced riders should attempt. The scenery on this short section is nice, and one can take a quick stop and break at the base of the falls.
Local Points of Interest
The town of Greenwater has food, maps, forest service parking passes, and gas. Wapito Woolies sells maps and also has ice cream, yum.
- Palisades is FS trail #1198.
- Greentrails Map #238 - Greenwater
- Here is John Zilly's description of the ride with a map.
Evergreen has lead work parties here, moving stone and clearing timber from the trail. Also Evergreen assisted in an IMBA ride here in 2004.