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Old 08-29-2004   #1
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Seattle to Mt. St. Helens

As told to me by a good internet friend from the www.tt600.org forum who lives in the Seattle area:

Here is my favorite Washington road. It as 20 miles south of Randle, WA. From Seattle, the quick way to get there is by taking I5 south to 12, then 12 east to Randle. From Randle, you take Parks Dept. route 25 south. Windy Ridge is the road up the back side of Mt. St. Helens. It is a right turn off 25, and it is fairly well marked as long as you are paying attention.

First, the bad parts of the route. There really isn't anywhere you can easily pass. The sight lines are pretty well obstructed by rock outcroppings and the like about half the time. Near the top, there is usually a bit of rock-fall debris that you have to pay attention not to get into. And, it is only about 16 miles long.

So, the good parts. Everything else! The pavement is very good and well maintained. There are no guardrails, and there are some pretty steep drop-offs, but that just adds to the thrills. There are several places to pull off and take in the view. That is something well worth doing, since you can see how the mountain blew down exposed trees when it erupted. The trees that were sheltered behind a rock outcropping are still there from before the eruption. Even a quarter century later, evidence of the volcano's eruption is everywhere you look. I don't know if it packs the same number of curves into its length as the Dragon, but it certainly doesn't do badly. There might be a half mile of straight road in the whole 16 miles. Whoever decides what corners to post just gave up here. They put up signs that tell you that you are in for lots of curves for the next few miles. Then another sign that says the same thing! They are not kidding. When you get to the top, the road dead ends into an interpretive center. Take a break there and do it all again to get back to the bottom!

Traffic is usually pretty heavy on weekends, so weekdays are the best time to go if you can get the time off. On a weekday, there are families on vacation and motorcyclists on the mountain. That is about it! Park rangers don't patrol for traffic much, so you can have your fun without looking over your shoulder all the time.

So, the scenery is terriffic, the road twists like a snake that somebody stepped on, and you can usually get around the overloaded mini-vans soon enough to avoid terminal frustration. Not only that, but there are a number of back ways to get there that keep you off the interstates and on reasonably curvy roads. 25 between Randle and Cougar is another part of the ride that is much longer and very pleasant, but nowhere near as technical. The road is not plowed in winter, so riding there is iffy until June some years, depending upon snowfall.

Will Martin
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Old 09-18-2004   #2
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You are SO right! I love this road. I have been on the loop between Randall and Vancouver at least 10 times this past month. Awesome ride.

Word of caution - there are some tax collectors that can be found. Some riding friends made some involuntary tax payment 2 weeks ago - they were not sympathetic.
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