New trails opened for mountain bikes near Lake Chelan

As soon as the weather cools off a bit east of the mountains, and that fall crispness returns to the air, consider a drive to Chelan – with your mountain bikes.

This year four family-friendly miles of bike trails were added to the Echo Ridge trail system about 10 miles north of Chelan.

The new trails connect the ridge to Echo Valley.

Echo Ridge has two faces, a cross-country ski area in the winter, and a mountain biking area that starts at about 3,400 feet in elevation the rest of the year.

Either mode of movement provides views of Lake Chelan and the Enchantments, Pyramid Peak and Okanogan Highlands on 20 miles of trails through ponderosa pine forests and open ridges.

For a 360-degree view, head to the 3,800-foot Echo Summit.

The Wenatchee National Forest site offers single- and double-track trails on logging roads and human-created paths, with a mix of grades for beginners and intermediates.

Because the area was created for cross-country skiers, there’s not much to offer hard-core bikers.

The family-friendly part includes loops that generally don’t have more than a few hundred feet of elevation gain or loss, and that former logging roads make short loops no longer than two miles each.

For beginners, try Upsy-Daisy, Chickadee or Lollipop. Intermediate riders can tackle Ridge View, No Where to Hide, Little Critter, Outback, or Morning Glory. A good challenge is the 1.9-mile, occasionally technical, downhill run through Bergman Gulch.

But remember: If you go now, ride in the early morning or evening. There’s not a lot of shade on these trails.

Getting there: Stop at the Chelan Ranger Station (428 W. Woodin Ave., 509-682-2576) in downtown Chelan for an Echo Ridge trail map, advice and directions.

Where there’s smoke

Wildfires continue to be a major problem in the Gifford Pinchot and Wenatchee national forests and a serious threat everywhere in the state.

Although some areas have been opened (Icicle Creek Road and the popular Stuart Lake-Colchuck trailhead), fires continue to smolder and many great hikes are not an option.

The section of the Iron Horse State Park-John Wayne Pioneer Trail from the Yakima River Canyon entrance east of Cle Elum to East Taneum Road west of Thorpe has been closed due to fire damage.

Any hiker with a clear head will call a ranger before setting out, checking for safe areas and campfire bans.

Many fires are started by lightning. If you are camping in an area that has had lightning strikes, be prepared to move out in a hurry.

Dreaming sailboats

If you’ve always wanted to buy a sailboat, but the idea was too intimidating, read Daniel Spurr’s “Your First Sailboat: How to Find the Right Boat for You” ($14.95, McGraw Hill).

There’s no better time than now to read it because the Boats Afloat Show at Chandler’s Cove in Seattle is Sept. 15 to 19.

Spurr’s advice is packaged in easy-to-grasp illustrations, short chapters that stick to the basics with a bit of humor, and advice that covers handling, maintaining and navigation as well as purchase issues.

Chapters include “How Do I Recognize Quality?”, “How Do I Attach the Sails?”, “How Do I Know Where I Am?” and “What if the Wind Stops Blowing?”

As soon as you purchase the dream, you’ll want to improve it. For that, read Don Casey’s “100 Fast &Easy Boat Improvements” ($14.95, McGraw Hill).

The author of “This Old Boat” offers, with illustrations, simple projects that make a difference without breaking the bank. A battery-maintaining solar panel, nonskid dishes, a cockpit glass rack, and a companionway screen door are a few of the options.

Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.

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