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Old 07-16-09, 10:52 PM   #1
BengeBoy 
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A ride up to say hello to Mt. Rainier (ride report w/pics)

Have been wanting to take a ride up to the Sunrise Visitor Center in Mt. Rainier National Park for some time now, but have been waiting for a weekday to do it as the tourist traffic on the weekends can be a little heavy in the summer.

This is a pretty popular ride for Seattle-area cyclists; known for yielding fantastic scenery at the cost of one long, steady, but not-too-intense climb. There also is water available at the foot of the climb and at the top.

Sunrise is the highest paved road in the park, at 6,400 feet; the basic ride from the park entrance up to Sunrise and back is about 40 miles; I tacked on a few extra miles to make it 45 miles total with around 5,000 feet of climbing.

I started just at the northern entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park; this is about a two-hour drive from my house:



There is about a 5-mile steady climb into the park, then you turn off for the road up to the Sunrise Visitor Center. After cycling through a tunnel of trees for a few miles, you finally start to see some scenery at a creek crossing:



At the top, I think there is a legal requirement that you snap a pic of your bike in front of the elevation sign. That's Mt. Rainier in the back. BTW, if you're ever visiting, there are some great day hikes that leave from the Sunrise visitor center.

I know that 6400 feet is nothing to you Colorado types but if you live at sea level, it's something to think about when you're riding a bike...



Looking off to the east...



OK, now I'm cheating just a little bit - this pic is from a different trip to Sunrise (actually, it was my 50th birthday, and my present was a family hike). But this photo is just about a three minute walk from the parking lot of the visitor center; just wanted to show you what the view looks like from a slightly better angle. If you keep going for an hour or so you can cross the ridge in the foreground and you get a front-row view of the summit.



Back to the bike ride...


The descent - pretty good pavement quality, so you can relax (a bit) and just fly down the road you came up. Note a couple of other riders in this pic - there were so many bikes out today that several tourists asked me if there was an organized event today. As far as I know, it was all solo riders or folks riding in groups of two or three...must have seen a dozen riders on the way up and a similar number on the way down.




I started another climb (Cayuse Pass) after my ride up Sunrise and caught this photo on the way up...but due to a late start I got antsy, the traffic was getting heavier, I and decided to turn back to the car before finishing the climb to Cayuse. Will save that for another day, but caught this view of the mountain on the way back to the car:



All in all a great day; I am happy to have finally done this route that every experienced cyclist in Seattle has probably done at one time or another. Once you commit to making the drive out to do the ride, it's one of the better rides in the area in terms of scenery returned for effort invested.

Last edited by BengeBoy; 07-17-09 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 07-16-09, 11:00 PM   #2
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I love the descent from Sunrise. Looks like you had a mighty fine day
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Old 07-17-09, 03:29 AM   #3
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Very nice! Looks beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Makes me want to get to Skyline drive in Va. soon for a 2000ft climb to see if I can do it. I believe it is 6 miles all up. Small I know compared to the west coast but hey better than 200ft!
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Old 07-17-09, 07:17 AM   #4
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Thanks for sharing that. Beautiful country.
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Old 07-17-09, 08:36 AM   #5
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Very nice ride, report and pics. I love the snow capped mountains in the distance. We have the four mountains/climbs but not the majesty of the Rainier.
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Old 07-17-09, 10:34 AM   #6
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Someday I'll make it over that way! Nice Pics.
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Old 07-17-09, 11:44 AM   #7
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Wow! that is beautiful country. I've just added your ride to my bucket list. I thought it rained in the N/W every day, shouldn't there be moss growing on the park entrance sign?

My wife and I have a mini-vacation planned to the San Francisco area in late-Oct so I may accomplish one of my "rides" by pedaling through a Redwood Forest then and up and over a pass. I will need to find out where to rent a bike in Santa Cruz and locate a spa or other luxury treatment to keep her atttention while I'm out playing for the day.
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Old 07-17-09, 12:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allegheny Jet View Post
Wow! that is beautiful country. I've just added your ride to my bucket list. I thought it rained in the N/W every day, shouldn't there be moss growing on the park entrance sign?

My wife and I have a mini-vacation planned to the San Francisco area in late-Oct so I may accomplish one of my "rides" by pedaling through a Redwood Forest then and up and over a pass. I will need to find out where to rent a bike in Santa Cruz and locate a spa or other luxury treatment to keep her atttention while I'm out playing for the day.
Yes it rains here everyday. Benge Boy faked that sunshine. Never visit here its horrible Actually thats partially a lie we get summer for 3 weeks in June July or August. You just don't know which three weeks they are going to be and if the days are going to be consecutive or one here and one there.
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Old 07-17-09, 01:33 PM   #9
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Nice report. That looks like a really nice ride -- as you said, great cost:benefit ratio!
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Old 07-17-09, 04:42 PM   #10
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Just a beautiful ride! And your 50th birthday ride shot is stunning.

I hike the Wonderland Trail that goes around Mt Rainier for my 40th birthday. It sure is spectacular country. Thanks for the flashback.
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Old 07-17-09, 08:40 PM   #11
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Fab pics. A must-do ride.
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Old 07-18-09, 04:09 AM   #12
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Nice ride. I never did it when I lived there. I'm trying to talk my wife into doing our vacation in Seattle/NW again next year.
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