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FR43 Blackpine Lake s(u)

The North Cascades in Washington State have one paved road corridor. Unpaved road go out from it dead end somewhere in the forest. The cyclists that I met in this area, all pretty much did the same thing : the "Northern Tier route" publicized by Adventure Cycling.

But just south of the North Cascades there are several unpaved forest roads that can be made into climbing loops with interesting summits. This is one of the less steep ones. The rocky peaks remain in the distance, but at least one can admire them from afar.

1.(00.0m,1410ft)START-END SOUTH: jct Wa153 - Libby Creek Rd
2.(11.5m,4160ft)TOP: FR43 Blackpine Lake s(u)
3.(12.9m,3980ft)jct with one way climb to Buttermilk Butte on left
4.(19.5m,2440ft)profile turns right on Twisp River Rd.
6.(32.8m,1600ft)START-END NORTH:jct US20 - Wa153, east of Twisp


From South.
The profile starts at a major signed turnoff from Wa153 just south of Carlton. Druing July the temperature seems to drop noticeably, as seen as you climb into the first trees. Several miles of pavement go past nice houses, hidden in the wealth of forest. After crossing the National Forest boundary, a fairly hard surfaced dirt road climbs mildly in bits and pieces. There is some washboard surface, but - all in all - this is a fast road to climb on with a bicycle.

At the top there is a small turnout and a view down grass covered hills, dissolving into haze before any details about the landscape can be recognized. A few ft below the summit another access road to Blackpine Lake joins from the right, the Poorman Creek Rd.

The very first interesting view comes just after this intersection. It is Blackpine Lake with its campground and the peaks of the Sawtooth Range in the distance. All pictures on the page were taken at this campground. The amazingly clear light to the peak above is even more impressive when compared with the equally strong haze, when looking down into the valley.

From North. (described downwards) It is a fast roll down a good dirt road, with little wear on the breakpads. Only during the first couple of curves can slivers of the peaks above be seen as background. Four miles before meeting up with the Twisp River Road, the road acquires a sort of pavement. The rough spots may be difficult to recognize in time, when just letting the bike roll.

The profile also includes the following, shallow descend along the Twisp River road back to Twisp, a nice peaceful country ride with little traffic. Abundant vacation houses take advantage of deep shade next to the river.

Out and back sidetrip to Buttermilk Butte.

Just a very short distance after passing the Blackpine Lake, a singed turnoff goes up a oneway climb to Buttermilk Butte. This road is considerably rougher but has a very mountainbike friendly surface, and hardly any "too steep" grades. As I have become accustomed to from the roads in the area, there is really not much to see other than trees, until you get to the summit (not counting one opening near the bottom). You can even take the appearance of the first far views as sign that the summit must be within a hundred feet of climbing. Two short tracks lead to vantage points onto peaks in the Sawtooth Range. During my visit I had this entire vast landscape to myself.

1.(00.0m,1410ft)START EAST: jct Wa153 - Libby Creek Rd
2.(11.5m,4160ft)FR43 Blackpine Lake s(u)
3.(12.9m,3980ft)profile turns right on one way climb to Buttermilk Butte on left
4.(17.3m,5470ft)END WEST: eastern top of Buttermilk Butte

Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( < FR8220 Cooper Mtn Rd s(u) | Hart's Pass > )
FR43 Blackpine Lake s(u) , additional out and back: just inside National Forest boundary on FR43 southern approach > up FR43 > FR43 Blackpine Lake s(u) > Blackpine Lake campground <> out and back to Buttermilk Butte, both branches >> down FR43 > Twisp River Road east > Twisp > Wa153 south > Carlton > back up FR43 back to starting point: 52.6miles with 4860ft of climbing in 5:29hrs (garmin etrex30 m5:17.7.25).

SLIDESHOW of sidetrip to Buttermilk Butte

cLiCk on image , arrows , or thumbnails to advance slideshow