As of July 2023 there is a landslide on NF25 coming from the South. So the way to complete this route is starting at Randle WA. From Randle NF26 can be used to make a good loop. Always check the road status (links in text below) before riding.
Slightly shorter Alternative route can be found here: link to Strava Route
Almost an institutional ride now, this being my 4th time. This ride has mind blowing landscape and killer mountain views of Mt. St Helens, WA. With the added bonus that its 100% traffic free delight (right now).
Mileage: 81 Miles
Elevation Gain 8,000ft
Elevation profile – Out and back. with large amounts of climbing.
Terrain: 100% road
Ride Route: here Ridewithgps
Services: Limited to none, recommendations in text below
Bicycle: Road or touring
NF25 and 99 are closed winters, gated and generally open up to motor vehicles in Early July. This translates into 81miles of car free enjoyment. NF 25 is a tree lined beautiful road that twists it’s way through the Gifford Pinchot National forest up to the first viewpoint of Mt. St Helen’s. The visual rewards come early at mile 15 with a great view of St Helens, from there a mix of descending and climbing the real fun comes when you break tree line on NF99 and are exposed to the dramatic rocky, wind-scoured landscape and fantastic views of St. Helens, Mt, Hood, Adams and Rainier sometimes. The top section of NF99 is rolling, twisty and a visual delight. The lower section is a bit of a climb from 2800ft to 4,000ft, a nice climb.
You can leave your car at the Pine Creek Information Center to start. Here are bathrooms but no other facilities. (An alternative route is to start in Randle Washington and head South on 25 (instead of North). The road from Randle will probably be open for traffic, but NF99 will still be gated and closed. Alt Route here, warning I have not ridden the miles from Randle to NF99)
Since services are close to non-existent, and also depending on when you ride, the roads closed, you have to be prepared.
Food – Take the food you need, see below for drop bag details.
Tools – During the times when the road is closed for traffic there can be debris on the road and light rock debris especially at the top of Windy Ridge. Some of these rocks can be sharp – worst case they can slice your tyre- make sure you take tyre boots and the rest of the puncture fix gear you need,
Hydration – In moderate temperatures, I have ridden this with 3 large water bottles, I would say I am an efficient person. In hotter conditions, I carry a musette bag with 2-3 extra bottles in it and hide them under trees at the marked point on the gps map – about 25 miles in, where there is a snow park. This is great to ensure 2 bottles to the top of Windy Ridge then upon return you have another 2 for the way back. If you leave food bars here, make sure they are fully sealed.
UPDATE 2023: of recent years I have also found that a nice stop and a way to get fresh cold water is to carry a water filter. Iron Creek Falls is a beautiful place, easy to walk down to and easy to filter from, its about 1/2 a mile off the route very close to the bottom of NF99
UPDATE : NORWAY PASS : As of July 2023 the water source at Norway Pass has been closed off
There are springs / rivers that run beneath the roads, most are not accessible, they are far down and on sharp rocky descents. If you go at a time when there has been a lot of snow, you will find quite a small water falls along NF99 that you can filter from.