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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All,

My brother & I live in/near Seattle, WA. I've been to the west side of Mt. St. Helen's a number of times on various bikes, and have been over Cayuse and Chinook Passes a few other times as well. Last weekend (Aug 15-16) we took the opportunity to spend a whole weekend on the bikes doing both. Some of the places we visited were firsts for him, and I decided we needed to try the eastern Windy Ridge side of MSH. I have wanted to do that for a couple of years, but hadn't found the time in a single day.

Besides, we already had a Saturday afternoon lodge meeting planned in Skykomish, so we were well on our way to do a west-side east-side loop of the mid-Cascade range.

The weather was great and the variety of scenery was great too. I forgot to take my camera mount for the GT so the pictures are limited. The route we took is shown below. (Ignore the leg that goes out to the east and off the map. That's some kind of anomoly from past trips).



We left mid-morning on Saturday from Bothell taking US-2 east to Skykomish. We diverted at the Money Creek campground (just west of tunnel) and entered Skykomish on the Old Cascade Highway. After our meeting, we continued east on US-2 to Leavenworth then turned south on US-97 over Blewett Pass to Ellensburg. Stopped for dinner then continued south on the Yakima River Canyon Road to Yakima where we spent the night. This leg was just 197 miles.

On Sunday morning we headed west on US-12 ~ 18 miles up past Naches and then stayed right as it became SR 410. Continued ~ 68 miles up to the top of Chinook Pass (5,430 ft) which is just on the eastern edge of Mt. Rainier National Park, and on a nice day like this looks across to the east side of the mountain. (That's my '07 K1200GT).



From here we continued down and west to the top of Cayuse Pass (4,675 ft). This is located about midway north and south of the park. There, SR 410 continues north as a nice drive to Enumclaw, and also intersects with SR 123, which continues south through the park and meets up with US-12 again. We went that way. We continued west on US-12 ~ 23 miles) to the town of Randle. Here, (at the only stoplight) we turned south onto County Road 9009 which within a mile becomes NF-25. This is a fairly rough 2-lane asphalt road which has a lot of bumps and is fairly narrow (no shoulders). Our misfortune on this day was there must have been 20-30 Nisson cars in some sort of club event that chose the same day to go somewhere. They had been stopped along the southbound lane to gather up, and as we approached (behind a few other cars) the "club" decided to move and both the front and middle of their caravan got on the road at the same time, leaving the rear group and a few others at the side. We got by the rear group, but I cursed into my helmet as this was the part of the whole trip I had been looking forward to and the thought of slowing, braking, and passing 30 cars all strung out in formation for the next 30 miles upset me.


The lower forest starts to close in on NF-25 and it becomes twisty as well. We managed to find breaks in the cars, and some relatively long straight stretches that allowed us to pass a number of the cars for a few miles, but many more remained. You can imagine my joy, when somewhere up the road, the lead cars decided to stop again and regroup at a wide intersection, and we raced on by them. We never saw them again for the rest of the day, so I have no idea where they were going.

Pretty much alone now on NF-25 we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the tight corners and uphill climbs, slowing to find the right time to pass a very few individual cars we were sharing the road with. As said before, the asphalt on this road is chucked full of sharp dips and bumps. You need to keep an eye out for them and actually avoid the dark patches. They aren't filling them in all the way, but rather trying to keep up with erosion and settling. Even at mid-day, the trees cast a lot of shadows onto the road and it isn't that easy to see what is ahead in mixed lighting.

17 miles south on NF-25 you come to an intersection with NF-99. Here you turn west onto it, and begin a steeper climb with LOTS of twisties, bumps, and hard edges on erosion points. At the intersection, we saw at least 30-50 sport bike riders all gathered to take pictures of their adventure. I then thought the road might get a little "crowded" and made a mental note to keep our eyes and ears open for traffic passing us ! NF-99 continues up and I think at about the 5 mile point it breaks out of the lower forest and there is for the first time actually a viewpoint of Mt.St.Helens. I think this is on the edge of the "blowdown" zone. We stopped here and had a sub sandwich lunch and watched (and listened) to a few of the sport bikes go by towards the summit. Most of those we saw earlier must have been on their way down. Here is yours truly.




NF-99 continues ~ 11 miles from here to Windy Ridge. The road is all open and on the extremely steep slopes of the hills. The hard erosion edges and dips are frequent. A good reminder, they are usually on the downhill side of the road so be careful in those blind corners - but have fun.

BTW, I'm going to post another thread in the GT section on the "after" appearance of my sidestand after this piece of road.


Here we are stopped by the road with a look at Spirit Lake below. The north and east side of the lake is still filled full of blown down logs - which
are now 30 years old !!!




At the end of the road is parking lot with an amphitheatre for park ranger presentations, and great views of the mountain, lake, flow areas and Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and area. There were maybe a dozen sport and cruiser bikes in the lot.




We retraced our way down NF-99 and NF-25 to Randle, stopping at a couple of other viewpoints. This time, at nearly the bottom of NF-99, a couple of street bikes caught up with us and we let them go by. Another group caught us on NF-25 and we let them go by as well - but generally kept up with them. Where is my S1000RR?


At Randle, we turned west again, and continued on US-12 to Morton. At Morton, we turned north on SR-7 up to La Grande and then split northeast onto SR-161 to Eatonville. This is all nice rural 2-lane road but very wide open and fun to ride as well. Eventually SR-161 straightens out and becomes a long boring north-south Meridian Aveune through Lakewood. It's a poorly "stoplight infested" POS like Aurora Ave. or Highway-99 of north Seattle. This was the only bad section of the trip. Where Meridian meets SR-512, we jumped on that, ran north down the hill to SR-167 and took it north all the way to Renton. I had planned on taking I-405 north from SR-167 home to Bothell, but hiway reader boards warning construction on I-405 in Bellevue had northbound traffic squeezed down to one lane made me choose I-405 south (actually headed west) then north on I-5 home. The Sunday leg of the trip was just shy of 300 miles.


It was a very nice weekend to spend with my bro. Hope you make the trip some day.

Rainman


 

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Discussion Starter #3
Topo Maps

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the reply.
This topo map view was new to me as well. I have a Garmin Zumo and I used their PC software (Map Source) to lay out my route, then loaded it in the Zumo as usual. Afterwards, I wanted to show you all the route taken, and I noticed under the "View" menu item in the Map Source toolbar a "View in Google Earth..." choice. It overlaid the route as you can see. I removed a few "busy" waypoints, resized the view to where it all fit on the screen, then used a screen print utility I have to make a jpeg file out of the screen shot. Then I imported the picture to Adobe Elements and cropped the picture and resized it to fit in the trip report.

Good luck to you.

Rainman
 

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Are the one or two washed out bridges fixed on the Hwy 25 (east side of St. Helens)? I was wanting to go from Randle all the way down to the Columbia River. At the beginning of summer the route was not fixed yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Da Know About Bridges

Emily,

Sorry,... don't know about any bridges being washed out. I don't recall any signs warning of that situation either. We rode NF-25 from the north to Mt. St. Helen's and crossed a couple of bridges I think, but if there are bridge out south of there, we did not encounter them.

I would think you could always visit the WSDOT web site to get current closures or the National Parks if they were in their territory, or maybe a county site.

BTW, that was a route my brother wanted us to try but we didn't have enogh time to go to the Gorge and ride back up that weekend.

Rainman

Hey,... maybe that was where the 1st 30 Nissons went. They filled in the washout for us !!! :clap:
 
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