FATMAP difficulty grade
One of the most famous backcountry epics in the state of Washington provides an up-close and personal tour of "the lunar landscape of the Mt.
Helens blast zone,” as Abby Joffe puts it on [RootsRated.com](https://rootsrated.com/portland-or/mountain-biking/ape-canyon-to-the-plains-of-abraham).
It’s "safe to say there is no other ride quite like this anywhere in the States,” [according to](https://www.evergreenmtb.org/trails/mt-saint-helens) the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.
While the Ape Canyon to Plains of Abraham ride begins by climbing up a narrow singletrack deep in a PNW forest, it soon breaks out into the blast zone and lava flow area, providing a truly surreal landscape for a mountain bike ride.
The stunning terrain helps this route routinely top the list of the best mountain bike trails in Washington, and the USA as a whole. Once you hit the Plains, you’ll spend miles traversing the absolutely unreal landscape and surfing through the volcanic pumice.
After the initial 1,650-vertical-foot climb, the singletrack rolls up and down for the rest of its length, before reaching the opposite trailhead and turning around to head back from whence you came.
With over 3,700 feet of climbing over the course of 19.5 miles, expect this ride to be aerobically-challenging. The route as mapped here is the 20-mile out-and-back IMBA Epic version of the Ape Canyon/Plains of Abraham trails.
You can, of course, ride a shorter out-and-back route, or you can even create loops by combining other trails and roads in the area.
[The most popular loop option](https://fatmap.com/routeid/1733616/Ape_Canyon_-%3E_Plains_of_Abraham_-%3E_Smith_Creek_Loop) utilizes the Ape Canyon and Plains of Abraham for the climb, then returns on the more technically-challenging Smith Creek Trail. Sources: https://rootsrated.com/portland-or/mountain-biking/ape-canyon-to-the-plains-of-abraham https://www.evergreenmtb.org/trails/mt-saint-helens https://www.outdoorproject.com/united-states/washington/ape-canyon-plains-abraham