By Craig Vanderhart & Travis Hornby
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance
WENATCHEE — Devil’s Gulch, a well-known and loved mountain biking trail, has long been the main attraction for riding in Central Washington. This iconic trail never fails to reward anyone willing to speed down its 11 miles of smooth single track. But this trail has done more than make its users happy. It has also been a reason to come together, once a year, and care for its well-being and the future of mountain biking in Central Washington in general.
Less than a decade ago, local members of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance started an event called Devil’s Fest. The original goal was simple. The festival, normally in September, featured a trail work day, a shuttled ride, and at least one evening of enjoying food, local craft beer, and conversation. This festival was an opportunity to thank our landowners, the U.S. Forest Service, and give back with shovels and loppers in hand. This original goal of simply giving back has now grown to include partnering with several local organizations that are not primarily focused on mountain biking. Evergreen is all about raising mountain biking awareness, building trails, and giving back to our communities. While we might be the only mountain biking club in town, we found that we were not the only organization concerned about trails and community service.
This past September, Devil’s Fest was re-launched with the Dark Side Festival. Several new partners helped us promote and run the event. Our local road cycling organization, the Wenatchee Valley Velo Club, put on a night ride, which they have traditionally called the Dark Side Ride. RunWenatchee, a club run and racing organization, helped put on a night run and a hike, while AdventureWenatchee and Two Bar Productions took the lead roles in promoting the event. And our local ski resort, Mission Ridge, gave us the best possible location for the festival. Even though individual aims differ, each club or business saw the value in working together to promote the work being done by Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and its volunteers. More than 200 members of the Wenatchee community and beyond were in attendance. Some participated in the Dark Side events, some came to volunteer for the trail work party, and some just came to enjoy the music, local craft beer, and to help support our mission. The next Dark Side Festival is set for Sept. 26, 2015, again at Mission Ridge.
Looking forward, the Central chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance wants to continue to build local relationships as we strive to increase mountain biking options in our valley and beyond. With miles of trails to maintain and several more miles to be built, we cannot achieve our goal alone. RunWenatchee’s club runners have already come out to help us build single track trails at Squilchuck State Park, which is already equipped with a pump track, jump lines, and other skills areas. Many more projects are underway just 30 minutes west or 50 minutes east from the Wenatchee Valley. In Chelan, the U.S. Forest Service has teamed up with Evergreen and our junior high mountain biking club to build more single track at Echo Ridge. More advanced riders will be happy to know that in Leavenworth work is nearing completion on Rosy Boa (now a legal downhill trail) and the old Freund Canyon descent is getting a bike park worthy makeover.
With all of the projects combined we have seen 11 miles of miles of trail built using more than 3,700 volunteer hours. We could not be this successful if it were not for the hard work of our volunteers. We are also firm believers in community partnerships. With the help of other clubs and organizations along with many local businesses, we are even more poised to accomplish our ultimate goal of making the Wenatchee Valley a mountain-biking mecca.
This story first appeared on AdventureWenatchee.com. Craig Vanderhart and Travis Hornby are members of the Central Washington chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. The chapter is based in Wenatchee.