A great run just minutes from Wenatchee
By Amber King
After work, running missions have started to become the norm lately. Finding the after-work partner is sometimes a challenge, but lately I’ve been lucky to find people interested in the adventure. It is always nice to share those exciting moments when something new and beautiful is discovered. Trail running is fantastic both shared and alone.
Kyle Almekinder was my after-work compadre for the Devils Spur-Mission Ridge-Devils Gulch link-up. We met through RunWenatchee’s track and club run sessions and later found ourselves at Saddle Rock Pub & Brewery talking about trail running. Kyle has a long history of road and track running and has started training for a 50K race. He was interested in the trails that I had run and ones that I was thinking about doing. I pulled out a topo map and we began to pour over all the diverging lines that represented trails in Wenatchee Valley. And there are many of them.
Scanning over the map, I boasted about potential lines that were on the bucket list for the season. One in particular was the “Devil’s Tie-in.” It went from the Devils Spur Trailhead to the Mission Ridge Trailhead to the Devils Gulch Trailhead and then back. This 12-mile run represented a gamut of terrain, including gravel roads, classic dirt trails, small talus fields. Plus, it was obvious there were incredible views along the way. Kyle was interested in the exploration.
A few days later, following work, we hopped in the car and made our way up to the Devil’s Spur Trail off Squilchuck Road. This is a spur trail that heads uphill for 2.2 miles before hitting the Devil’s Gulch Trail. If you’re looking for an easy run with some awesome views, I would recommend this spur as a fantastic in-out trail. At 4.4 miles round trip with a little elevation gain, it offers technical terrain and great views. You also pass cliffs and fantastic rock outcroppings.
After we got to the Devil’s Gulch Trailhead, we started to head up the gravel road that branches off to the left. This hill climbs for some time. I was huffing and puffing while completing intervals of fast hiking and running. Kyle waited for me intermittently as he floated up through these sections with ease.
When we got to the summit, we were welcomed with an astounding view. We both laughed out loud and smiled at the beauty of the area. Looking north, we were blessed with views of the Cascade Mountains. Looking west and south, we saw rolling foothills, dotted with trees, and the city of Wenatchee below. Looking way in the distance, the Columbia River glimmered blue. These views, with the sunlight lower in the sky, welcomed opportunities for beautiful photos and heart-warming scenery.
Hitting the Mission Ridge trail, I was able to keep up with Kyle a little easier. The rolling ups and downs of the trail kept the mind focused. The occasional glance around perpetuated my curiosity. The winding trails, looming Ponderosas, technical rocky and rooted trail and the occasional break for air and water made this loop interesting, fun, beautiful and a must-do for anybody looking for a little inspiration.
After a few miles, we hit the junction for Devils Gulch. Taking this back to the trailhead, we were given similar views and spotted burn sites, areas of new growth, wonderfully colored wildflowers and more. We talked about our running histories, high school and our lives as we carried along on the trail. When presented with a fantastic view, we took the time to take a photo and appreciate the area for what it was.
The quality of the trail and the company that I received that day was a perfect recipe for a wonderful experience. As the sun dipped low in the sky, we finished our run with a small cool-down back down the spur. I was happy to have great company, sunshine and a few hours of exploration. Getting up the gusto to adventure after work can be difficult, though reaping the rewards is worth it!
That said, if you haven’t explored the Mission Ridge area, take an hour or two after work to get up there. It is a wonderful way to beat the heat of the summer days, explore a new area and have some fun.
Trail name: Devil’s Tie-in
Mileage: 12 miles
Elevation gain: 2,500 feet
Pros: Beautiful views, well-maintained trails, loop
Cons: May encounter dirt bikers, mountain bikers, horses, mosquitoes
Additional resources: http://www.justgetout.net/Wenatchee/14922
Note: Bears and cougars in the area
Directions from Wenatchee
1. Drive up Squilchuck Road towards Mission Ridge.
2. Follow the road for 3.5 miles past Squilchuck State Park.
3. At the switchback about 1 mile before the ski area, you’ll find a turnaround parking lot on the right.
4. Beyond the lot is a Devil’s Spur sign. This is where you start your route.
Get out after working and enjoy the day with friends!