Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA
Bikes: 2014 Pivot Mach 5.7 MTB, 2009 Chris Boedeker custom, 1988 Tommasini Prestige, 2007 Bill Davidson custom; 1988 Specialized Stumpjumper
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Good advice from Skyler above.
You also mentioned you wanted to see Mt. St. Helens. There are two ways to do by bike, both of which I did this summer.
1. You can ride out of Mt. Rainier National Park to Packwood and then up the eastern slope of the Cascades. That takes you up to the "blast zone," and you'll get to a barrier that blocks car traffic from entering because the roads got damaged in storms a couple of years. However, you can go through on a bike and get through just fine -- just watch out for potholes, fissures and boulders in the road (it's not at all maintained now since no motor vehicles go through).
This map shows an organized ride called the High Pass Challenge that shows a couple of ways to get to Packwood up to Mt. St. Helens:
After reach the Mt. St. Helens overlook, you can backtrack to Forest Road 25, and take that South. If you look at a map, you'll see that you then have a couple of options to Portland...including a route that takes you straight south to the Columbia River, then along the Columbia into Portland.
2. The second way to see Mt. St. Helens is to approach from the West side -- you can see on a map how to get to Toutle...from Toutle you take the new highway up to the visitor center overlooking the crater. From Toutle, it's a bout an 80 mile round trip. This highway is in excellent condition and is the major tourist route up to the top (there probably will be little traffic this time of year, though). There are a couple of visitor centers on this route, including one overlooking the crater.
The scenery either way is pretty spectacular, esp. on a clear day. In general staying on the east side of Mt. St. Helens after you leave Rainier will keep you in much less populated areas...coming over to the west side of the Cascades will put you closer to civilization and more traffic.
Last edited by BengeBoy; 09-28-08 at 08:50 AM.