I got up early on Saturday and drove my bike toward Mount Rainier, parked on a forest service dirt road, and then rode into the national park, coming out the other end. I’m pretty sure this was the first time I’ve ridden a bike inside a national park (North Cascades Nat’l Park is ends at the road, divided into two pieces), which was a little bit of extra fun.
Cayuse Pass has been open for a while, but Chinook is still closed – they’re hoping to have it opened this week. But the road itself is bare. You can ride all the way to Yakima, if the spirit moves you.
I rode a little beyond Chinook Pass, by Tipsoo Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail, then turned back. (My turn-around point was at the trailhead for the Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap trail, which looks like it’s been getting snowshoe use. Beautiful place in the summer.) Coming back down, the road that had been closed off with a sign and a few cones, at Cayuse Pass, was now chained off with a sign about avalanche blasting east of the pass!
On the way up, I passed a group of backcountry skiers, grinning ear-to-ear, who pointed the mountain goat out.
This came to 40.6 miles round trip, with 3,700 feet elevation gain. Cayuse Pass sits at 4,675 feet, and Chinook Pass is 5,430 feet.
At Cayuse Pass, SR-410 makes a sharp turn, heading toward Yakima, and meets SR-123 which continues south through the park. The road up is closed. There were a lot of cars here, and people congratulating themselves on their trip, skis and bikes still at hand. I stopped briefly to make sure this really was my destination, Cayuse Pass. The people I met were animated and jovial, and encouraged me with news that the road is free of snow all the way up. I had secretly hoped to climb both passes, but didn’t think it would be possible that day.Continue reading