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Seattle to Missoula to Pueblo

Old 10-15-23, 01:49 PM
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Seattle to Missoula to Pueblo

Major Update! Based on your recommendations/suggestions/comments I've decided to start in Pueblo CO and finish in Seattle, WA (E-->W vs W-->E). First pedal day is now set for 21 May '24. Reason for the change: If I was to go W-->E I will have to delay my start date to mid-June in order to get over the Chinook Pass which, in turn, would impact my start date of riding the LeJog in the UK. So updated plan is to follow the ACA's TransAm from Pueblo to Missoula. From Missoula I'll be heading north to Mullan ID to hook onto the Couer d'Alenes to Plummer ID. From Plummer I will need to work my way to Ellensburg where I'll hook onto the Palouse to Cascades Trail (PCT) to get me close to Seattle. Recall I cannot get onto the PCT earlier in Eastern Washington as I'll be on a loaded touring bike with tires < 2". Tips? Suggestions? Recommendations? Cautions?

Has anyone got any suggestions/recommendations on how to get from the end of the Couer d'Alenes in Plummer Idaho to Ellensburg? Anyone got any experience riding the Vantage Highway east to west? Doable? Other thoughts about the route greatly appreciated! BTW I did consider, but discarded because of time constraints, using ACA's Great Parks route and hooking onto the Northern Tier and then dropping later into Seattle.

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by jkinner; 11-24-23 at 05:09 PM. Reason: Change in route and start date
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Old 10-17-23, 08:13 AM
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Palouse to Cascades would be just fine all the way to the Columbia River with reasonably wide tires. I've ridden it on 28's (a little narrow but I survived). If you could manage 38's you would be fine. Once over the Columbia there are many road choices to continue east.

I've never ridden over Chinook, so cannot help you there.
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Old 10-20-23, 10:32 AM
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Palouse to Cascades would be fine until Kittitas plus abut 2. From there east the conditions a bit more than a month ago was mixed soft sand that was too much for my CX bike and 33's. There is a great alternate route to Vantage and then down the river to the restored crossing at Beverly. For an added vista and a bit of extra climbing riding the PtC until just over the restored Renslow Trestle is worth it and good surface. From Beverly east there are a number of paved or good gravel roads and routes.

Chinook Pass on the other hand is a beautiful route. Extremely Narrow, with no shoulders and cliff on the side you will ride on. Depending on the winter we have there might still be lots of snow up there. I am guessing but mid-week that you are planning is likely the safest. Weekends will have much higher traffic.

Seems like a fun trip.
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Old 10-20-23, 11:08 AM
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Chinook Pass is a common local ride, I think mostly for the views and climbing. When I motorcycled over Going to the Sun Road last year it reminded me in some ways of Chinook Pass. From what I remember Chinook is nearly always open by the end of May. That said, the shoulders can be narrow and the road is curvy with some switchbacks toward the top.

There are lots of alternative ways over the mountains, including HWY 706 to the south through Mount Rainier National Park. I'd choose HWY 706 -> HWY 123 then north to HWY 410, unless Chinook Pass was specifically on my bucket list (as it is for some). On the east side of Chinook Pass you can camp almost anywhere and there are good shoulders.

Once you get down out of the mountains, Eastern WA can be remote desert. Be prepared for long, flat stretches that go on forever, heat, goatheads, etc.
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Old 10-20-23, 04:55 PM
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Another alternative would be Palouse to Cascades (PTCT) and at Ellensburg head down through the Yakima River canyon on SR821 to Yakima. During mid-week traffic is usually pretty light. You'll really be fine on the PTCT on any tire 32c or larger. As you come down the east slope f the cascades, you'll find paved roads you can hop off onto if you get tired of riding the trail.
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Old 11-07-23, 07:39 PM
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+1 on what woodway said although I would recommend getting off the PTCT at Cle Elum and ride to Ellensburg on Hwy 10 as the trail surface does begin to get more rough after Cle Elum.
The ride through the Yakima Canyon is very beautiful. Keep following the Yakima River via secondary roads that loosely parallel I84 to Pasco then take hwy 124 to Hwy 12. Hwy 12 will take you to Kooskia.

I did a tour pretty much covering the route jkinner has in mind 'cept I cut east at Frisco and went over the Rockies to Longmont instead of heading south to Pueblo.
I was riding on 28mm tires which were fine on the PTCT. The toughest section in my mind of the whole trip was 2 days in Wyoming between Lander and Rawlins. Very desolate and windy.
Washington to Colorado on a vintage bike
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Old 11-11-23, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by northbend
I did a tour pretty much covering the route jkinner has in mind 'cept I cut east at Frisco and went over the Rockies to Longmont instead of heading south to Pueblo.
I was riding on 28mm tires which were fine on the PTCT. The toughest section in my mind of the whole trip was 2 days in Wyoming between Lander and Rawlins. Very desolate and windy.
Washington to Colorado on a vintage bike
Really enjoyed the photos from your tour. Very cool! Thanks for sharing the link.
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Old 11-12-23, 09:07 PM
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Or…You could follow ACA’s Pacific Coast route to Mt. Vernon, WA, take the Northern Tier to Whitefish, MT then the Great Parks North route to Missoula to pick up the TA. You could add an out and back to Glacier National Park and ride up and back down the west slope of Going to the Sun.

Also…If you can handle 23 miles of somewhat rough in places dirt I can give you a great alternative after Big Hole Pass that takes you over the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway and eventually puts you back on route at Twin Bridges, MT. (I’ve done it 3 times on quality 37c tires.)
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Old 01-31-24, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jkinner
Major Update! Based on your recommendations/suggestions/comments I've decided to start in Pueblo CO and finish in Seattle, WA (E-->W vs W-->E). First pedal day is now set for 21 May '24. Reason for the change: If I was to go W-->E I will have to delay my start date to mid-June in order to get over the Chinook Pass which, in turn, would impact my start date of riding the LeJog in the UK. So updated plan is to follow the ACA's TransAm from Pueblo to Missoula. From Missoula I'll be heading north to Mullan ID to hook onto the Couer d'Alenes to Plummer ID. From Plummer I will need to work my way to Ellensburg where I'll hook onto the Palouse to Cascades Trail (PCT) to get me close to Seattle. Recall I cannot get onto the PCT earlier in Eastern Washington as I'll be on a loaded touring bike with tires < 2". Tips? Suggestions? Recommendations? Cautions?

Has anyone got any suggestions/recommendations on how to get from the end of the Couer d'Alenes in Plummer Idaho to Ellensburg? Anyone got any experience riding the Vantage Highway east to west? Doable? Other thoughts about the route greatly appreciated! BTW I did consider, but discarded because of time constraints, using ACA's Great Parks route and hooking onto the Northern Tier and then dropping later into Seattle.

Thanks in advance!
Update: Plan now is to follow TransAm from Pueblo to Missoula starting 23 June. From Pueblo head north to hook onto the Coeur d'Alene trail to Plummer From Plummer to Cheney, onto Rt 2, Wilbur, Sun Lake SP, Wenatchee, Cle Ellum, North Bend then to SeaTac. 34 days of riding, 1,742 miles. Camping and occasional hotels.
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Old 02-03-24, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jkinner
Update: Plan now is to follow TransAm from Pueblo to Missoula starting 23 June. From Pueblo head north to hook onto the Coeur d'Alene trail to Plummer From Plummer to Cheney, onto Rt 2, Wilbur, Sun Lake SP, Wenatchee, Cle Ellum, North Bend then to SeaTac. 34 days of riding, 1,742 miles. Camping and occasional hotels.
I’ve done between Missoula and the CdA trail twice with a stop a bit east of St. Regis, MT. There are a couple of ways you can go from St. Regis to Mullan to pick up the CdA trail. The best is to head directly into ID over Gold Pass, head down the St. Joe River to Avery, then ride the former Milwaukee Road righ of way, which includes the incomparable Hiawatha Trail. You then take the NorPac Trail up to Lookout Pass. Then it’s down to Mullan via either I-90 or the NorPac.

Let me know if you want maps, Note that Gold Pass is a 16 mile climb, 15 of which are unpaved, but it’s not super hard. The ID side is paved. The descent along Gold Creek and the St. Joe are wonderful, and there are a couple of campgrounds along the river outside of Avery. Just avoid it on the weekends due to crowds. You’ll also need a good headlight for the 1.66 mile St. Paul Pass Tunnel at the end of the Hiawatha Trail. It’s unlit.

Part of the Hiawatha Trail:





Looking back down while climbing Gold Pass

St. Joe River

My campsite at Turner Flat Campgrpound

St. Paul Pas Tunnel

Climbing to Lookout on the NorPac Trail

Last edited by indyfabz; 02-03-24 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 02-04-24, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jkinner
Update: Plan now is to follow TransAm from Pueblo to Missoula starting 23 June. From Pueblo head north to hook onto the Coeur d'Alene trail to Plummer From Plummer to Cheney, onto Rt 2, Wilbur, Sun Lake SP, Wenatchee, Cle Ellum, North Bend then to SeaTac. 34 days of riding, 1,742 miles. Camping and occasional hotels.
Great ride. What's your planned route from Wenatchee to Cle Elum?
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Old 02-04-24, 04:06 PM
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Planned route Wenatchee to Cle Elum

Originally Posted by woodway
Great ride. What's your planned route from Wenatchee to Cle Elum?
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Old 02-04-24, 06:19 PM
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Nice. I was curious on how adventuresome you were planning to be.

Highway 97 can get really busy - lot's of trucks and throw in lot's of RV's on weekends. Generally OK shoulder but there are skinny spots. Mid-week is better if you can manage. The Old Blewett route is fun. You can get off of 970 even before Teanaway Rd. by turning right at Swauk Prarie Rd. and following that to Ballard Hill Rd. to Teanaway Rd. It's gravel but decent gravel and quite nice compared to riding on the Highway.
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Old 02-08-24, 06:01 PM
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You may wish to consider from the intersection of old blewett and 97 on the north side, if not opposed to gravel/dirt Forest Service rd 9738 to FR 9702 to Teanaway road. It will add a bit of climbing but the views are spectacular.
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Old 02-08-24, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by woodway
Nice. I was curious on how adventuresome you were planning to be.

Highway 97 can get really busy - lot's of trucks and throw in lot's of RV's on weekends. Generally OK shoulder but there are skinny spots. Mid-week is better if you can manage. The Old Blewett route is fun. You can get off of 970 even before Teanaway Rd. by turning right at Swauk Prarie Rd. and following that to Ballard Hill Rd. to Teanaway Rd. It's gravel but decent gravel and quite nice compared to riding on the Highway.
A bonus of this route Woodway suggests is you will likely see Bison at Swauk Prarie Ranch.
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Old 02-09-24, 10:11 AM
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BTW…To get from Missoula to St. Regis requires riding on two segments of I-90. One is about 3 miles. Forget how long the second one is. Maybe 4 miles. There is another option for a third segment, but there is a way to avoid it. It’s just a bit convoluted. I’ve never bothered with it.

You also have to get on I-90 west of St. Regis for a much longer stretch if you don’t follow the route I suggested above or take the Olympian Trail west of town.
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Old 02-09-24, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Black wallnut
A bonus of this route Woodway suggests is you will likely see Bison at Swauk Prarie Ranch.
Heck yes! It's a short detour off 970 but scenic!


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Old 02-17-24, 10:17 AM
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A follow up... got it: Swauk Prairie Rd to Ballard Rd to Tenaway. But what about continuing on to Red Bridge to Mastorson and Cle Elum Airport Rds and into Cle Elum? Is Red Bridge, Mastorson rideable? Also...I can't find Forest Service Rd 9738 and 9702 on my maps. Is there another map you can refer me to? Thanks!
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Old 02-17-24, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by jkinner
A follow up... got it: Swauk Prairie Rd to Ballard Rd to Tenaway. But what about continuing on to Red Bridge to Mastorson and Cle Elum Airport Rds and into Cle Elum? Is Red Bridge, Mastorson rideable? Also...I can't find Forest Service Rd 9738 and 9702 on my maps. Is there another map you can refer me to? Thanks!
Red Bridge, Masterson, Airport Rd. are all paved, local roads and a very nice ride.

Look here for 9738: CalTopo - Backcountry Mapping Evolved

9738 is a beautiful ride, but be aware that it's all gravel and washboardy and features a fair bit of steep climbing. Maybe Black wallnut knows about another route that I am not familiar with, but I have always stayed on 9738 between Teanaway Rd. and US 97. 9702 takes you up to the Red Top Fire Lookout. Coming down Teanaway Rd. towards Red Bridge is paved and a really sweet ride.

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Old 02-22-24, 12:44 PM
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Agree about Red Bridge onward.
woodway nailed it as to conditions on 9738. I have done that one. It gets steep in places and rough in places too. 9702 is just as rough in places although it seems to miss the super steep parts. The problem on the west side of Red Top is the roads are all gated, have not been used in years so may or may not be passable. May have numerous downed trees. Lots of dead end spurs as well. If you chose either of these two options you will miss the Swauk Prairie. Each way has it's own beauty. I am so familiar that I take it for granted. The geology of the Teanaway is dissimilar from elsewhere in my region. About as pretty as a mountain valley as you will find east slope of the cascades.

Another thought, and you likely have already thought this through but once you are past Ingall's Creek on the north side of Blewett there is no water until Mineral Springs, a store or a USFS campground. If you are travelling with a water purifying pump there will be plenty of opportunities to fill bottles. Often when I have ridden to that area from home I would drive up and drop cache of water in strategic locations beforehand. I now have a water pump that I will carry.
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Old 02-27-24, 03:29 PM
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9738 and 9702 sounds interesting, but I think I'll skip them on this trip. I'm getting antsy to start this ride due to the warm weather here in Ohio. I've taken my bike apart for maintenance and put it back together - it and I are ready to go. Thanks for all the suggestions and recommendations.
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Old 02-28-24, 09:13 AM
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I recently made this for a friend who might be riding from Missoula to Seattle later in the year. It's the straight shot, all-paved version from Missoula to the start of the CdA Trail in Mullan, ID. He doesn't camp, so campgrounds are not shown. And because he will be riding a road bike, I skipped the Olympian and NorPac Trails west of St. Regis.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/45658857
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