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Old 07-11-2012, 02:09 AM   #1
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Question about route to Mt. St. Helen
I've never done this trip and was wondering about different route options. Do you guys have any opinions on highway 503 vs. 504? Also, what route do you usually take before one of there highways, right straight i5 or is there some better alternative. Last question involves admission, how much is it if there is one?

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Old 07-11-2012, 02:43 AM   #2
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504 is great, but it is almost all high speed sweepers with really good views. Great pavement once you get to the good parts and great sight lines (not too many blind curves). The only problem is that you have to be going pretty damn fast to enjoy the road so weekdays are best.

503 (I assume you are talking about NF25 from Randle) is great once you get to the Windy Ridge cut-off (NF99). The stretch between Randle and NF99 is awful. I got the bike airborne twice last week, and I was taking it easy! NF99 is easily one of the best stretches of road i've ever ridden. The pavement has some sketchy spots and there's rockfall in some of the tight blind corners, but the views once you get into the blast zone are ridiculous. Once you get back to NF25, go south to Cougar. 40 more miles of great twisties. The fees are $5 ast both Johnston ridge and Windy ridge iirc.

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Old 07-11-2012, 02:49 AM   #3
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“ Quote:
Originally Posted by crippy View Post
504 is great, but it is almost all high speed sweepers with really good views. Great pavement once you get to the good parts and great sight lines (not too many blind curves). The only problem is that you have to be going pretty damn fast to enjoy the road so weekdays are best.

503 (I assume you are talking about NF25 from Randle) is great once you get to the Windy Ridge cut-off (NF99). The stretch between Randle and NF99 is awful. I got the bike airborne twice last week, and I was taking it easy! NF99 is easily one of the best stretches of road i've ever ridden. The pavement has some sketchy spots and there's rockfall in some of the tight blind corners, but the views once you get into the blast zone are ridiculous. Once you get back to NF25, go south to Cougar. 40 more miles of great twisties. The fees are $5 ast both Johnston ridge and Windy ridge iirc.
Yeah the randle-nf99 is a completely different way. I didn't even notice it until you mentioned it

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Old 07-11-2012, 05:52 AM   #4
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I Ride: Kawasaki Z1000; Yamaha RZ350 (2); Yamaha RD400 (2); Yamaha RD350 (2); Yamaha RD125; Yamaha RD60; Kawasaki '72 G5-100; '66 Suzuki X-6 Hustler FINALLY!!
A note about NF25, especially between NF99 (Windy Ridge) and Randle. On the entire length of 25, the side of the road next to the embankment is in better shape than the side that drops off; therefore, if you are coming from the North (Randle) SB to Pine Creek/Cougar this lane is generally much better, as you're on the embankment side until somewhere past 99. I can't remember exactly where you transition to being on the dropoff side, somewhere around 20 miles to the Pine Creek Ranger Station; at that point the pavement is worse on the SB lane.

If you don't ride crazy you can avoid most of the frost heaves and other damage, and enough of this road is so nice it'll be worth it. I concur with riding Windy Ridge, it's by far my favorite road, and a totally thrilling proposition. However it's not scheduled to be open until this coming Saturday; there's a landslide being cleared and perhaps still some snow being plowed.

I rode from Amboy (south spur of 503) all the way to Cougar/Pine Creek (NF90) and then to Randle on Sunday. Totally exhilerating but yeah you take a pounding especially on the NB lane between Windy Ridge road and Randle on 25. I was a bit beat but very thrilled and satisfied by the time I got home. 200+ miles of fairly technical twisties on a 90F day takes it out of you!

http://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Ra...ra=ls&t=m&z=10

Yeah, 504 has fantastic sweepers, but it takes too much slabbing to get there for my taste.

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Last edited by Quicklimegirl; 07-11-2012 at 05:57 AM..
 
Old 07-11-2012, 07:55 AM   #5
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Sounds like you guys both prefer windy ridge to Johnston ridge?

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Old 07-11-2012, 08:24 AM   #6
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Without a doubt! Soooooo stoked that it's opening this weekend! Bonus points if you climb the stairs


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Old 07-11-2012, 08:29 AM   #7
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“ Quote:
Originally Posted by crippy View Post
without a doubt! Soooooo stoked that it's opening this weekend! Bonus points if you climb the stairs

qft!!!!!

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Old 07-11-2012, 08:36 AM   #8
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“ Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoanghai96 View Post
Sounds like you guys both prefer windy ridge to Johnston ridge?
Oh HELL yes. Not even remotely close. The only thing lacking is absence of amenities because of how remote it is. A few years ago there used to be a snack bar 6 miles from the top but it's been closed for awhile. So ensure you are packing some water and snacks.

Even better is the fact there are so many more roads in the National Forest area to branch off to. While there may be some county roads around the Toutle area I haven't tried out, its hard to match the abundance of fun roads that run South, East, or SE from where NF25 meets NF90.

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Old 07-11-2012, 08:45 AM   #9
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“ Quote:
Originally Posted by crippy View Post
504 is great, but it is almost all high speed sweepers with really good views. Great pavement once you get to the good parts and great sight lines (not too many blind curves). The only problem is that you have to be going pretty damn fast to enjoy the road so weekdays are best.

503 (I assume you are talking about NF25 from Randle) is great once you get to the Windy Ridge cut-off (NF99). The stretch between Randle and NF99 is awful. I got the bike airborne twice last week, and I was taking it easy! NF99 is easily one of the best stretches of road i've ever ridden. The pavement has some sketchy spots and there's rockfall in some of the tight blind corners, but the views once you get into the blast zone are ridiculous. Once you get back to NF25, go south to Cougar. 40 more miles of great twisties. The fees are $5 ast both Johnston ridge and Windy ridge iirc.
I have been up to both of them a bunch of times and never paid a fee????

Windy Ridge and Johnston Ridge are way different.

WR = Tight Turns, more technical back and forth and longer ( Come up the South Side from Cougar, way better than north side )

JR = Fast Sweeping turns and wide open, great road

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Old 07-11-2012, 08:47 AM   #10
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Thanks for the replies, I think I just found my road to st helens

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Old 07-11-2012, 08:53 AM   #11
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One thing that I'm concerned about is gas. From the map it looks like A LOT of ground to cover. I'm planning on taking randle>nf25>nf99>back to nf25 and head south towards cougar. How far are the gas stations better that whole randle to cougar route. Remember I am going forward and back on nf99

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Old 07-11-2012, 08:55 AM   #12
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I have been up to both of them a bunch of times and never paid a fee????
Neither have I, but if one were to follow the rules, they'd pay.

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:01 AM   #13
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Wow I'm surprised no one suggested Tower Rd as an alternate to part of Hwy 504. It offers some nice curved and has less traffic than Hwy 504 - also bypass some of the smaller towns/slower speeds so more enjoyable IMHO. Took this was last Saturday along with some other backroads I hadn't tried before. Epic!

Hwy 503 is very nice, but beware of deer. I hit one on my current bike a few years ago. Still think it's a beautiful road and have been back on it since then. While you're there, check out the Ape Cave. And if you just want to ride this area or an alt to Hwy 503 is NE Cedar Creek Rd.

Depending on where you're coming from, it can be a long day so it seems most just slab it there. But there are some sweet back roads from Centralia on the westside of I-5 or on the eastside by Tenino/Bucoda (great detours in the hills off Hwy 507 too, but I digress). Ahhh such great riding in the Volcano Region and South Coast areas!!! Man just hate slabbing to get there and back. *pout*

Does no one use Destination Highways? Great route book, especially if you like remote backroads with lots of twisties. I plan all my rides from this books and have been on roads where there is no one else. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't share.

It's a good idea to check out the Forest Service website on the condition of the FSRs before heading out i.e. for landslides, missing bridges, etc. There's also a site for Mount St Helens, info on fees, etc.

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:05 AM   #14
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“ Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoanghai96 View Post
One thing that I'm concerned about is gas. From the map it looks like A LOT of ground to cover. I'm planning on taking randle>nf25>nf99>back to nf25 and head south towards cougar. How far are the gas stations better that whole randle to cougar route. Remember I am going forward and back on nf99
Gas up in randle & cougar. You should be fine as long as you can cover 100 miles on a tank. If you are desperate there is 87 gas in northwoods.

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:06 AM   #15
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Wow I just looked the book up, looks great but $60 I'll have to think about it.

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:07 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by goslow View Post
Gas up in randle & cougar. You should be fine as long as you can cover 100 miles on a tank. If you are desperate there is 87 gas in northwoods.
Sigh don't know if I'm ever desperate enough for 87 in my bike...thanks for the info though

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Old 07-11-2012, 09:12 AM   #17
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Neither have I, but if one were to follow the rules, they'd pay.
Now I feel bad but I have no idea where you even pay?

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Old 07-12-2012, 10:10 AM   #18
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Now I feel bad but I have no idea where you even pay?
Two places I know of where you can do so are at the Forest Service HQ building kitty-corner across the street from the Chelatche Prairie store between Amboy and Cougar; the Cougar general store/gas station might sell 'em too; then there's the Pine Creek Ranger Station, 19 miles east of Cougar on NF90 right before the junction of NF90 and NF25.

I believe the Forest Service employees that give talks at the end of Windy Ridge road sell them there also in the parking lot.

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Old 07-13-2012, 02:49 PM   #19
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what the heck are all those stairs???

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Old 07-13-2012, 04:10 PM   #20
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what the heck are all those stairs???
They're stairs. Climb them if you wanna know what's up there

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