Saturday, December 3, 2016

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier
More often the destination of alpine climbers than the cycling grimpeur, Mt. Rainier offers multiple ways to collect big elevation numbers. With roadways restricted by the Cascade Range, cycling in area entails big loops, lengthy climbs, and sweeping vistas. While in the area, consider hiking at least part of the Wonderland Trail and camping in one of the many campgrounds in the National Park.

While there are several great rides here, first a note of warning: the riding is almost universally narrow two-lane roads without any shoulder. Try to avoid high-traffic times (summer weekends) lest a line of angry motorists gather behind you.

Chinook Pass
RAMROD Loop: A massive loop around Mt. Rainier, this ride takes place yearly. Covering two mountain passes and 150 miles, this ride requires a high level of fitness. From Paradise enjoy the views back down into Longmire and out over the descent to come. Next, descend (with a small ascent) down to the WA-123 and climb back up to Cayuse Pass. No views here, sorry. A long descent becomes more gradual as you go until the grade is imperceptible. From Enumclaw, a series of rolling roads bring you back to the start in Elbe.

I have not personally ridden, or driven, many of these roads so I cannot speak to road quality or traffic volume. However, keep in mind the narrow road warning. Drivers on 410 do not expect cyclists and I would prefer to do this loop with the safety of numbers in the annual RAMROD ride.

Cayuse Pass
Sunrise Climb and Chinook Pass: Two passes easily accessed from the White River Campground. Climbing Cayuse Pass and turn left to follow the climb up to Chinook Pass with an incredible view down the Mather Memorial Highway. The climb to Sunrise also results in fantastic views of the ridges surrounding Mt. Rainier as well as the mountain itself on clear days. Sunrise is a gradual climb at 4.5% for 10 miles and while Chinook Pass is a similar grade for 8.3 miles.

Mt. Rainier from Stevens Canyon Rd.
A Ride to Paradise:

Mt. Rainier

Sunrise

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