Skookum Flats is a very popular trail. It follows the rugged terrain of the south side of the White River. A very scenic, technical trail providing challenge along with a nice forest experience.
White River is a trail that's often overlooked in it's own right. Since it's mainly used as a trail to access or extend ride loops of other more popular trails like Palisades or Skookum Flats. It provides technical challenge and aesthetic beauty. White River is a great trail surrounded by other great trails. Lots of people do these two trails as a loop.
White River Trail as an out and back is a good trail for a strong beginner rider.
Generally one of the first trails (in the area) open in the season, however trail conditions can be poor in the wet.
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has led work parties here, clearing timber from trail etc.
Closest local services are in Greenwater, but just the basics. Beer and burgers at the Naches Tavern. Milk shakes and ice cream at Wapati Woolies.
Also, don't miss the old growth tree - a 700 year old Douglas Fir - at the end of the Dalles River connector trail (1162.1, near the campground). Sad Update: as of 2015-5-1, this tree is no more; its remains are next to the trail.
From Seattle, head east on Interstate 90, south on Interstate 405 to Exit 4, then south on Highway 169 to Enumclaw. In Enumclaw, take Highway 410 south toward Mount Rainier. As you leave town, pass milepost 26 and set your odometer to zero. At 28.4 miles, just past milepost 54, turn right on Buck Creek Road. Cross over the White River, and take the first left into the parking area. If this is your first time - the real trail is across the road from the parking area - go down a steep embankment and stay left.
West End: 25 miles from Enumclaw take Rd 73 across the bridge over White River. Trailhead is directly to the left and parking is to the right.
East End: 30 miles from Enumclaw Take Rd 7160 across the bridge over White River. Trailhead is directly to the right and parking is to the left.
WHITE RIVER TRAIL
There are quite a few access points along 410, one across Buck Creek Rd, and a few others near or around Camp Sheppard. Be aware that the well groomed graveled trail at Camp Shepard is now open to bikes.
Skookum Flats is FS trail #1194
Greentrails Map #238-Greenwater
See the Ranger Creek / Palisades trail for additional options.
SKOOKUM FLATS TRAIL
From the lower trailhead Skookum Flats starts out smooth and groomed but soon turns rooty and rugged. A few very challenging climbs and descents, it's very likely you'll be hiking at a few points within the trail. Near the Skookum Falls it's worth it to slow up and soak in the atmosphere, and it's always fun to ride on the bridge along the swampy section. Near the intersection of Buck Creek Trail the trail is introduced to some high exposure as it meanders close to some cliffs. Also it returns near the river where the Palisades Cliffs are in view. More rugged terrain awaits as you approach what is popularly known as the upper trailhead on Rd. 7160 (Buck Creek Rd). But if you stay towards the left the trail runs underneath the bridge and continues on for a few miles. The trail is a bit hard to follow at times with a lot of spur trails from makeshift campsites that run across it. Eventually the trail turns primitive and ends at the Mt. Rainier Park boundary.
There is also a side trail(about 1.7 miles from Buck Creek go left) known as the "Church Camp" trail. This can give you an extra 1.5 miles and 300 ft of elevation gain as an out and back.
WHITE RIVER TRAIL
The lower trailheads starts off with a steep grinding climb up to the intersection of Palisades. From that intersection past Camp Sheppard towards the intersection of Ranger Creek it remains pleasantly consistent with roots, rocks, twists and turns in pleasant forest. A few creek crossing most on bridge and many short climbs and descents. Past Ranger Creek to the upper trailhead the trail gets more technical with longer climbs/descents, some exposed sections, a few big roots, and a challenging scree rockgarden section.Good views of Camp Shepard(now a Boy Scout Camp) at one time a Civilian Conservation Corp camp.
On the first go, White River Trail seems confusing with lots of side trails connecting into it. Just remember to keep going straight at all intersections.
SKOOKUM-WHITE RIVER LOOP
If it's your first time, this is a good "get acquainted" loop. Park off Road 73 at the northwest TH and ride Skookum southeast to Buck Creek Road (~6 miles). Cross 410 and pick up the trail 100 feet to your left, heading up. Turn left at White River Trail and continue a few miles to the end(it will empty out at a small parking spot on 410). Ride 2 miles along the road (passing the Skookum Falls viewpoint off 410) into the Dalles Campground. Head toward the "Big Tree" and pick up the 1/2 mile Dalles River Trail. This will empty out onto road 73 - 100 yards from your car. Note that the lower trailhead sign does NOT show bikes as allowed, but the upper trailhead sign (at Dalles Campground) DOES show bikes as allowed.
SKOOKUM ADDITIONS and VARIATIONS (see google earth photo)
From Rd 73 parking you can go north for 2 miles on a fun rooty challenging trail all the way to Crystal River Ranch (trail ends at the power station(4 miles RT)). Last 1/2 mile is an old gated logging road. You access this by riding about 200 feet up Rd 73 and taking a right on the road that goes across Huckleberry Creek, climb a little hill(200 feet from the creek) and take the first right thru a big 4-wheel ditch. Trail starts here.
A variation off Skookum is the "church camp" trail. This .75 mile one way trail is all rideable and eventually switchbacks up above Berachah Church Camp to a small viewpoint. This can be an out and back from Skookum or not(at the junction 1.8 miles from Buck Creek-see image #6). You are allowed to enter/exit thru the church camp. This is much like the boy scout camp on the other side in that you are not allowed to use the facilities but it's perfectly legal to ride thru. Ride up rd 7160(Buck Creek) for one mile, enter the church camp parking lot, go left until the rd ends and find the trail branching right. Go across the footbridge and then push your bike uphill 25 feet until you hit the trail. You can start down from here or go up a few switchbacks to the viewpoint.
You can also go south from the Buck Creek parking lot for one or two miles of trail/road. The trail goes between the camp ground and the river. People get confused riding this upper section near the airstrip/camping spaces. There are plenty of dead ends. The way to stay riding is stay on the plateau - near the edge but don't follow the trails down to the river as most all of these dead end. The runway is one mile long so you can easily add this mile to your route. Beyond the runway the trail needs some work but you can follow the road and then branch off onto a trail that will take you right to the Mt Rainier boundary. No bikes in the park though.