23.0 miles
4,137 ft
-4,133 ft
4,593 ft
High Point

Shred through the ape canyon at the base of mt saint Helens all the way to smith creek. And IMBA epic

Detailed Description
Ape canyon & smith creek loop is a 23 mile popular expert route located near Southwest Washington. This mountain bike only route can be used one direction and has a hard overall physical rating. This route includes 4 trails. This route climbs 4,137 ft with a max elevation of 4,593 ft then descends -4,133 ft.
Local Trail Association
Local trail association
Evergreen – Southwest Chapter (www.evergreenmtb.org)
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12 Reviews & Comments

  • + 0
cdaringepb (Sep 3, 2022 at 17:49)
Significant count of dismounts, bike carries, overgrowth and washouts. Its 3 Sept 2022. Some work was done towards the bottom of the creek somewhat recently, but still. The trail upper trail is narrow and loose, as the description claims. The lower part of the trail along the creek is not tm technically challenging, just needs loads brushing. Loads if it. Mostly ridable, but due to the brush its a bit of a grind.
  • + 0
jselberg (Aug 1, 2022 at 5:18)
Rode 7-31-22. Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham were perfect with purple, orange, and yellow wildflowers everywhere. Smith Creek pumice drop-in was heavily overgrown but passable. Recommend long sleeve shirt and long fingered gloves which we didn’t have. The rest of Smith was all rideable with only a couple walk arounds and normal stream crossings but had a lot of stick debris throughout. Always a widely varied and fun loop.
  • + 0
splanken (Jul 23, 2022 at 6:27)
Rode July 26th. Trails are cleared. Only one walk around.
  • + 0
splanken (Jul 23, 2022 at 6:26)
Rode this this week. Trail in great condition. Views are epic. Was a mega bloom on the plains.
  • + 0
KRob (Oct 5, 2021 at 10:27)
How does Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham hold up in the rain? Sticky mud or rideable?
  • + 0
karoltu (Jul 13, 2021 at 22:28)
Lots of steep sections, but an epic reward beyond tree line.

Returning downhill is fun and rolling mostly
  • + 0
lancinho (Jun 20, 2020 at 12:56)
The road to the trailhead is now open and Ape Canyon and Plains trail are cleared and in good shape.
  • + 1
gafoto (Aug 2, 2019 at 23:12)
Avoid on the weekends. The traffic makes this pretty mediocre to ride downhill.
  • - 1
ajarolimek (Aug 2, 2019 at 7:24)
Top is steep, exposed, loose, and off camber. Lots of down trees and sketchy river bank erosion. Worth doing once but will do the out-in-back Ape/plains next time.
  • + 1
tecla (Jan 29, 2019 at 22:04)
This should probably be removed and rerouted to just follow the road. It's roughly 400 steps to get up to the observatory above spirit lake and I certainly wouldn't bother hiking my bike up it. If you are doing the smith creek loop just ride up NF99 until the smith creek trailhead on the right.
  • + 0
rm7freerider (Sep 27, 2017 at 19:54)
Great ride, used it to make a loop, but Smith Creek is a great trail in its own right. Lots of cool swoopy turns. Not as steep as the end of plains of Abraham where it drops out, but riding in the opposite direction would probably be a bear, not impossible except for a few hike a bikes, but it'd be a long day.
  • + 0
sanfret TRAILFORKS (Aug 20, 2017 at 19:21)
If you are starting at the Ape Canyon trailhead to start this ride you will make your way to the Windy Ridge viewing area. You will then follow the paved road to past the Smith Creek viewing area. Continue until you see the Smith Creek Trail trailhead sign on your right.

The first half mile is lose gravel, overgrown shrubs (trying to push you off the cliff) and a sheer cliff to your right. After that enjoy the ride.

In a couple of places the trail crosses the river. There are no official markers. Look for bright marking tape (bright pink) to tell you where to go.

The last three miles are up the old FS road 83. You will be directed up the road by a small blue detour sign. This is the correct way to dump you out right at the Ape Canyon trailhead.


  • Riding area
  • Primary Activity
    Mountain Bike
  • Difficulty rating
    Black Diamond
  • Route Type
  • Bike type
  • Direction
    One Direction
  • Physical rating
  • Ridelogs
More Stats for Ape canyon & smith creek loop mountain bike route
  • Altitude min
    1,712 ft
  • Altitude start
    2,849 ft
  • Altitude end
    2,854 ft
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    11 miles
  • Distance down
    11 miles
  • Distance flat
    5,174 ft
Avg: 5 (1 votes)
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
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  • Snow Packed
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  • Snow Cover Inadequate
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Ideal
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
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Trail transparency
1,396 | 1 faves
rippin st helens
rippin st helens
4:09 | 157 | comments: 0 | favs:
Oct 15, 2019
Go big
youtuber VOTR Ape Canyon to Smith Creek
VOTR Ape Canyon to Smith Creek
14:26 | 687 | comments: 0 | favs:
Jul 25, 2019

Recent Trail Reports Along Route

Ape Canyon Trail
Sep 24, 2022 @ 7:44am
Sep 24, 2022
Dry and loose. Pretty technical in places.
Plains of Abraham
Sep 23, 2022 @ 10:01am
Sep 23, 2022
Good stuff, as usual. Trail felt a little looser that past rides, maybe due to extreme dryness.
Smith Creek Trail
Sep 1, 2022 @ 12:18pm
Sep 1, 2022
super loose at the top in the steep off camber switchbacks. lower part in general is clear and trees blocking trail have been removed. all river crossings are fine at time of writing
Smith Creek Trail #225
Jul 29, 2021 @ 9:37pm
Jul 29, 2021
We were planning to do this small section, but there are a tons of stairs to hike-a-bike up and a sign that says no bikes are allowed on stairs. There were only two people in view and I'm sure walking up them is fine, but we just chose to detour via the road.
more reports »
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