Hey all. I'm planning a cross country trip for this upcoming summer and was planning on leaving in early May from Seattle, but I'm wondering if this might be too early, especially in light of all the nasty weather we've gotten recently. Any advice on the passability of the cascades that time of year would be greatly appreciated.
Marin Pt. Reyes, Gary Fisher HiFi Pro, Easy Racers Gold Rush recumbent, Cannondale F600
You definitely will have Snoqualmie Pass (I-90) and Stevens Pass (US 2) available. White Pass (US 12) is also available, but is quite a bit farther south from Seattle. The opening date for the North Cascades highway and Chinook/Cayuse passes varies quite a bit from year to year depending on snowfall, but is generally around Memorial Day.
May weather is variable, but can be delightful for riding. Still, it's possible to run into a late spring storm that can put a few inches of snow down on Stevens, or even Snoqualmie; but the new snow generally melts off the roads in a few hours at that time of year.
Ya, May is generally not bad. Maybe lots of rain, but not usually significant snowfall. Snoqualmie Pass is I-90, but they let bikes on it. I've really felt sorry for those guys.
It's been a few years since I have ridden on it, but the old Sunset Highway (WA906 now) parallels/winds under I-90 up and over Snoqualmie Pass, so you don't actually have to ride on the freeway. But, the road is generally in pretty rough condition - be advised.
Another alternative depending on the stoutness of ypu/your bike is to take the Iron Horse trail through the tunnel (if the tunnel has re-opened for the summer) to Hyak. You can either continue on the trail, or get back on the freeway at Hyak.
Last year there was still considerable snow up at the pass until June, but last year was a realy big snow year.
i did a snoqualmie-blewett-stevens route last year in mid-may, and the weather conditions were great! lots of snow still around, but none on the roads.
i-90 isn't all too bad to ride on, as the shoulder is 6'-10' in most places (except for a few bridges, that you have to be patient for). i didn't find it scary at all, just loud (some say to wear ear plugs, i might try that next time)