Windy Ridge/Sunrise Loop
 

Trip Date: 9-3-2006

Features:

  • Alder Lake
  • Alder Dam
  • MT Rainier
  • MT ST Helens
  • Riffe Lake
  • Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • Ape Cave
  • Nisqually & Cowlitz River Crossings
  • Sunrise

 


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Hazards:

  • 2 Gravel Sections - Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • Poor Pavement Conditions - Gifford Pinchot National Forest
  • Fallen rock, gravel dirt and debris on road way 

 

Click the Play button to start the video!

The View Without a Cage
Windy Ridge MT. ST. Helens
14 MB 314 Kbits/Sec.

Road-Quest.com WA motorcycle rides roads destinations ride video Windy Ridge MT St Helens Volcaano t Washington

Trip Details:

Another fine day to Ride.  A friend of mine (Lloyd) and I planned this ride earlier in the week. This is one of those rare "planned" rides. The initial plan was to ride up to Windy Ridge and back. Around the end of the week I through in a curve. Or should I say allot of curves! I decided to visit Sunrise (MT. Rainier) on the return trip. This was his first long trip and his V-Max 650 had only 500 miles on it. Time to change that!  Another friend had called me the day before and let me know a friend of his wanted in on the ride. He was welcome to ride. Our new rider is Mike and he rides a 2004 ST1300-ABS. Anyone who rides an ST is Ok in my book.  The plan was to meet at Sprinker Recreation Center in Tacoma/Spanaway at 9 AM.

Sunday morning we all met as planned at Sprinker. Lloyd and I met Mike in person for the first time. As I expected he was a great guy. Well, he had one major flaw! Or should I say his tire had the flaw. A large construction staple stuck in his rear tire. It appeared to go in at an angle and didn't look like it breeched the casing. Our new rider was prepared, and had leak fix in a can and a mini compressor. I have been meaning to get one of those. He pulled the staple out and checked for a leak. No Leak! He was good to go. It was time to saddle up and hit the road.

We rode the usual route down Hwy 7.  Just prior to Elbe we rode through a few turns then past the Alder Damn viewing turn out. A few more turns and miles,  we were riding parallel to Alder lake. I noticed the East end of the lake was very low. In fact mostly mud. Usually when I come through here the lake bed is completely under water. A few more miles and we enter the small town of Elbe. This was our first stop. We pulled off the road and parked across from the old church. This is a quaint old town that is very photogenic. We did just that, took a few photo's and chatted a bit. After about 15 minutes we fired up the bikes and headed up Hwy7.

17 mile up the road we stopped for a restroom break and Fuel for the V-Max. This stop was brief and soon we were on the road. Once in Randle we turned right on NF-25. Within 3 miles we start riding under the canopy of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The temperature had crept up to 82 degrees. The shade was welcome at this point. We continued to navigate the forest road enjoying every turn for about 8 miles and then it was time to pull over and rest a bit. I'm riding on a new Rich's Custom seat and it needs an adjustment. I was feeling a little pressure on my tail bone and butt. Nice thing about Rich's seats is that he will make adjustments until it's right for you. Our new rider Mike was feeling some discomfort as well and he was riding on a new Sergeants seat. As we  rested and talked along side the road, I noticed there were quite a few cars heading up the road. More so then my last trip up here. I figured it was due to the 3 day (Labor day) weekend. After snapping some photo's and taking in some Teriyaki sticks and water we were ready for more turns.

We traveled up NF-25 until we came up on NF-99. This was our next turn and the road that would lead us up to Windy Ridge. We traveled under the canopy of the forest for a while then things opened up and we were faced with great Sun, twisties and a breathe taking view. I love the turns and the scenery up there! I've been wanting to add a video of riding these turns for some time. This time I did just that.  2 versions available! My favorite version is located at the top of this page. Click the link below to view the 14 MB Windows Media file.

Windy Ridge Video - The other version

Navigating the turns on this road is always a new adventure. The road conditions are not that great and the road is full of patches, rises, dips and falling rock, dirt and gravel. I have to say this was the worst I have seen it. There were a couple sections of road that as we rounded a turn, we suddenly were faced with gravel, dirt and rocks. The debris was across the road from one side to the other. Cars that have gone up before us cleared 2 paths on each side of the center of each lane. This poses a great danger to the riders that often navigate these turns at a much higher speed. All the more reason to take it easy on the way up and play in the turns on the way down.

We stopped at all of the view points and snapped some photo's and took in the sites. Every time I ride Windy Ridge,  I find the devastation amazing to say the least. As you look around on the hillside around you and below you, trees are thrown about all of which have landed in the direction of the blast.  It looks like they fell up hill. There are acres of grey dead trees that are still standing. They make up a dead forest that stretches as far as the eye can see. Visibility has been decreased today due to the presence of smoke from forest fires. This has been one of our driest summers and we have had countless forest fires as well as roadside brush fires.

We soon reach Windy Ridge view point. The parking lot has bikes of all riding styles and a flow of people heading  towards the steep stair case to the view point up on the ridge.  Climbing these stairs is quite a climb for the average person. I noticed many were stopping to rest multiple times. My last trip up I climbed and conquered. This time, I sat it out and listen to the ranger give a narrative of the blast. After checking everything out and shooting the breeze with some riders we decided to headed back down the mountain. Our next stop would be the little diner at the intersection of Hwy 7 and NF-25 in Randle. 

The ride down was as fun as the ride up. Soon we were approaching the Adams & St. Helens diner. My back side was ready for a break. We squeezed our bikes in among several other parked out front and headed in to eat. This was your typical small town diner right down to the deer horns on the wall. Our waitress took our order and from there we waited an hour to get our food. I don't remember when I have waited this long for a cheeseburger and fries. Mike wanted a piece of pie but was afraid we would have another long wait. Probably another 1/2 hour. We paid the tab and got out of there. The food was good but not worth the wait. The wait really bit into our trip time.

We headed up Hwy 7 to Packwood where we came to a long slow crawl. Apparently it was rummage sale day's in Packwood. It appears it's a big festival right down to the funnel cakes! People were crossing from one side of the road to the other and traffic was bumper to bumper and crawling from one end of Packwood to the other. Once we endured our share of the pain and reached the other side of town, things picked up. We followed the road until we were soon riding on 410. It was getting late in the day and we had Sunrise to ride. We followed 410 to the park entrance. We entered the park and those of us who didn't possess a park pass paid the $5 and we were on our way.  We navigated the twisting turns and made our way to Sunrise. We made one stop for photo's just prior to Sunrise. Great view from this view point and from both sides.

Once we arrived at Sunrise I was glad!. It was all down hill from here (Literally). I had been on the road since 8:30 AM and it was nearing 6:30 PM. The other riders felt the same so we stayed just long enough to snap some photo's and look around.

Soon it was on the bikes and we were heading down the mountain. We rode our way out of the park and down 410 to Enumclaw. This was our final stop where we fueled our bikes and said our good byes. Lloyd and Mike live further north so I parted their company and headed toward Tacoma. Outside of a the sun setting behind the haze of the clouds, the ride home was uneventful. The sun looked like a giant fireball setting over the farms and hills to the west. I really wanted to pull over and take a few photo's but I was whooped and just wanted to get home. Soon I was rounding my last corner and pulling up in my drive way. Man that driveway looked good! Looking back it was a great ride. I must add that Lloyd, for his first long ride, did an outstanding job. As for Mike... He's a great guy and rides a really cool bike! But then it's an ST1300. :-)

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Tacoma, Washington - United States (USA)
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