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Old 02-08-13, 04:38 PM   #1
Seattle Forrest
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Tell me about Hart's Pass

A friend of mine told me "You haven't lived 'til you've been to Hart's Pass." She's always been right with this sort of advice before.

Instead of driving to go see it, I'd prefer to ride a bike. In this case I'd probably camp at Early Winters, and ride from the North Cascades Highway up to the meadows at the end of the road, then ride back down. Obviously I'm talking about late spring or early summer.

But I've never been to Hart's Pass before. I know it's a dirt road, and that rules my bike out; I'll probably rent a CX or MTB for a weekend for this.

Can anyone who's been there tell me anything I'll need to know about the place? Is the road safe for a cyclist? Is it good enough for a CX bike? Will there be creeks to drink from, if I have a purifier?
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Old 02-08-13, 08:09 PM   #2
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Harts Pass is pretty cool. CX bike with wide tires would work if its geared low enough. That road is steep in places. There are plenty of creeks and streams. You will have to keep an ear out for vehicles and get out of the way. Many blind corners and the road is super narrow in places.
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Old 02-09-13, 11:24 PM   #3
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[QUOTE=Seattle Forrest;15252541]A friend of mine told me "You haven't lived 'til you've been to Hart's Pass." She's always been right with this sort of advice before.

@@@

We've camped and hiked up there over the years. There was a walk in campground near the top of the road and a drive in on a spur road close to the PCT. Neither have water and you remove your own trash.

I have not been there is a few seasons so I am not current on this. Check out the local camping quides for current data. The gravel road was a good quality USFS road with a lot of uphill. OInly hairy spot was coming round the nose of the ridge with a long way down on one side. Excellent views in all directions in clear weather from the lookout.
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Old 02-10-13, 04:19 AM   #4
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I've been up there a few times on dual-sport motorcycles. It's a pretty good road, certainly doable on a CX bike, although a MTB would probably be more fun coming down. It is a pretty tough/long climb so you'll need low gears unless you're an iron man. I remember one slightly dicey spot where the road narrows with steep dropoffs, but it's not technical at all and there is plenty of room for a big SUV, so you won't have any problem on a bicycle unless you do something super stupid. I don't recall whether there was water available along the way, but it's only about 15 miles up from the general store at Mazama, so I would think you could easily just pack in enough water for the round trip.

It's a fun trip. The views at the top of Slate from the lookout are stupendous. It will probably be cold and windy even when it is pleasant and hot in the valley, so have some extra layers, a hat, and gloves. I'm not sure I'd put it in the class of "You haven't lived until...." though.

If you drive over, I'd camp at Pearrygin State Park just N of Winthrop which is a much nicer campground than Early Winter.

- Mark

Last edited by markjenn; 02-10-13 at 04:27 AM.
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Old 02-11-13, 01:59 PM   #5
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Awesome, thanks for the great info everyone!

I don't suppose anybody knows just how steep the worst parts of road are, or how long they go? And how much more difficult is it to climb dirt hills than paved ones? I don't have an MTB or CXB, so renting one vs the other would be pretty easy. Maybe the MTB would be better for the low gearing, I was thinking drop bars would be nice, though, for a 30 mile round trip...

Sounds like I'm better off going early in the season because of water?
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Old 02-11-13, 02:54 PM   #6
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The difficulty of climbing a gravel hill vs. paved is mostly related to how loose/deep the surface is and differences in the type of bike you are riding on each. Personally, I would say that climb is going to be a grunt, but a good challenge. If I were riding this, I would probably choose my Mountain Bike: low gearing, good tires, hydraulic disc brakes and suspension for the trip down. If the road is wash-boarded descending on a fully rigid bike could be painful. :-)

Go to gmap4.com. Zoom into the Hart's Pass area and on the upper-right pull down, change the map to "t4-topo high". Follow- the path of the road up and you'll see places where it goes almost straight up the topo lines. Once you reach Harts Pass, Slate Peak is around 2.5 miles further, but you'll gain about 1400 feet putting this section somewhere around a 10% average grade.

The pass area is not going to be melted off until sometime in July and there will probably still be snow up there in early August so the streams should be running. There is a Snotel Site on Harts Pass so you can always check that for current snow conditions.
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