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All Hail the WHIMPs!

New Miranda Trail Preserves
Access to Lower Ridge Trail

FIRST THE good news: the Ridge Trail is open and it is in excellent condition.

As many of you may know, the Ridge Trail was officially closed for a period in late 2000.

It remained heavily ridden both day and night, however, while the owner of the property at the very bottom of the Ridge Trail, the Oregon-based Pennbrook Co., attempted to begin construction of a 172-house development.

Construction was shut down by the state before Pennbrook could complete the first large culvert, though, and the legal challenge of the Birch St. residents continues.

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Scott Fleenor and Jeff Cummings pause for a moment during the WHIMPs' volunteer trail building on Miranda. Cummings and Galen Rockenbach designed Miranda. Jim Tagart photo.

Happily, amid all the acrimony, Pennbrook has moved to make room for both the Ridge Trail and the houses it still wants to build.

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A rider on lower Miranda, between the first and second switchbacks.

Stated simply: the company has allowed to WHIMPs to build a new trail -- dubbed Miranda -- to connect the end of Birch St. to the Lower Ridge Trail.

TO GET to Miranda, you take the first right after starting up the gated gravel road at the end of Birch St.. There may (or may not) be a sign with a red arrow where you turn right.

You have to squish through a couple mucky places as you head up the valley and pass a couple minor trails on your left. You keep going until you come to two smallish log rollovers. Then there is a trail that comes in sharply from the left -- this is Miranda.

As you quickly find as you begin to climb, this is a very well-designed trail, but it is also one that passes over some really difficult terrain as it climbs up the steep ridge face to the ridge line, and then Lower Ridge Trail. It joins the Ridge Trail above the lowest log roll over portal, where the trail forks both left and right to make an island in the middle.

There are five switchbacks as the trail climbs 200 vertical feet to the ridge line. The entire trail is ridable, but there are a couple places to keep your eyes open. One is the third switchback from the bottom. This is the steepest switchback on the trail, and it can be very treacherous on the down when the trail is slick and wet.

But the coolest feature of Miranda is the huge, mossy rock cliff that the trail skirts along the bottom of. This cliff is nowhere near as impressive from above on the Ridge Trail. Careful to keep your eyes on the trail here, scouts.Every mountain bike rider, jogger, hiker, dog walker, motorcyclist and smooching pair of lovers who enjoys the Ridge Trail and access to Galbraith Mt. from Lakeway Blvd. and Whatcom Falls Park owes the WHIMPs (Whatcom Independent Mountain Peddlers) and Pennbrook a debt of gratitude for making Miranda happen.

MEANWHILE, the county is considering a proposal to purchase a portion of the middle Ridge Trail, in the clearcut. was pleased to be a part of the recent presentation to Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen on this subject.

Stay tuned for more Ridge Trail developments...

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The big mossy rock near the top of Miranda. The trail runs along the base of this 60 foot high cliff.

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