Author Topic: Seeking info on route from Seattle to Missoula esp about Chinook Scenic Byway  (Read 3808 times)

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Offline j1of1

Instead of following the TransAm from Astoria to Missoula (and on to Pueblo) I'm going to start in Seattle (1st day of pedaling is 12 Jun 24) and connect to the TransAm in Kooskia, Idaho and follow that into Missoula.   

A primary route across the State of Washington is the Palouse to Cascades (PTC) State Park Trail HOWEVER, based on what I've read in many journals, that route is not advised for use by loaded tourers, such as myself, using tires <2" because of the loose gravel.   The route I'm considering using (see below for entire planned route) will take me east across the Chinook Bypass Scenic Byway (State Rt 410).  Lots of websites containing info about that Bypass, but very little available about people that have bicycled the Byway.   Anyone done the Byway and care to share their experiences, recommendations, cautions?

My current PLANNED route (high level) is Seattle --> Enumclaw --> Yakima --> Prosser --> Kennewich --> Kahlotus --> Pomeroy --> Lewiston --> Kooskia ID --> TransAm to Missoula --> Pueblo.  If you have suggestions/recommendations on this routing please feel free to comment.

Offline jamawani

Chinook Pass (not Bypass) is one of the higher passes in Washington.
It gets LOTS of snow and doesn't open until late May to mid June most years.
It should be open on your schedule until it is a huge, snowy winter.
But there will be snow at the pass and Tipsoo Lake will be snowbound.

Here is a list of opening and closing dates:
https://wsdot.wa.gov/travel/roads-bridges/mountain-pass-closure-and-opening-dates

I didn't get to see Mount Rainier when I did Chinook Pass - it wasn't "out" as they say. Cloudy.
Mount Rainier N.P. is not very cyclist friendly - that's why there aren't many posts.
There are zero hiker/biker campsites in the park. Roads are narrow with no shoulders.
Many people drive a one-day circle via Nisqually (Hwy 7) and White River (Hwy 410).
Traffic can be heavy on weekends - mid June less so.

The east side is really sweet - fewer people, more open forest. excellent camping.
Campground usually open by early June, but check.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/okawen/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=57121&actid=29

There are some great back roads from Naches into Yakima thru apple orchards.
East of Yakima there are generally good back roads - maybe fresh cherries?

I suggest Kahlotus Road east of Pasco - dropping down to Windust Campground on the River, if needed.
I strongly suggest staying at Palouse Falls - huge flow in late June.
https://www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Ice-Harbor-Dam-Lake-Sacajawea/Windust-Park/
https://www.parks.wa.gov/559/Palouse-Falls-State-Park-Heritage-Site


Offline mathieu

.....
A primary route across the State of Washington is the Palouse to Cascades (PTC) State Park Trail HOWEVER, based on what I've read in many journals, that route is not advised for use by loaded tourers, such as myself, using tires <2" because of the loose gravel.   
The Palouse-to-Cascades Trail is not bad all the way! I recently did large parts of it (see https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/gart ). The bad parts for non-MTB tires are east of Cle Elum to Ellensburg and especially from Kittitas to the Beverly Bridge over the Columbia River.
The section from North Bend over the Snoqualmie Pass to Cle Elum is a good, low-gradient gravel road that you can do on a touring bike with 1.5" tires. From Cle Elum, follow Hyw-10 to Ellensburg, Hwy-821 to Yakima, US-97 to Prosser and Richland, Hwy-124 to Waitsburg, US-12 to Lewiston and Kooskia.
West of Yakima there are several other options that you can easily figure out by yourself.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2023, 05:22:34 pm by mathieu »

Offline j1of1

Given the choice would you prefer to ride the PTC from North Bend to Cle Elum and connect to Yakima or cycle over the Chinook Pass and connect to Yakima?

Offline mathieu

I cannot answer that question because I never cycled Chinook Pass. Several years ago I went from Seattle to Enumclaw and Greenwater but took the dirt roads over Naches Pass to Cliffdell. That's a remote dirt route, entirely different from the trail over Snoqualmie Pass which is a very popular one-day return-ride from North Bend on a well-maintained, hard-packed rail-trail. The P2C trail on the east side of Snoqualmie Pass is less-travelled and starts to get more loose the further you get. I guess that you could leave the P2C Trail before Cle Elum, at Easton, but I am not fully sure.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2023, 05:09:26 pm by mathieu »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Allow me to suggest an alternative on the Trns Am in MT.  After Big Hole Pass east of Jackson, make a left onto the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway.  It rolls through the scenic Grasshopper Valley then starts to climb.  Although you top out at nearly 8,000", in sustained hilly section (the last 5 miles) is not that difficult.  After summitting, you have a net elevation loss of 24 miles, and there is a wonderful alpine meadow area.  You end up in Wise River, where there is a good restaurant (The Wise River Club) and a small mercantile with enough stuff to cobble together a dinner.  Nine miles east on MT 43 is Divide Bridge Campground, in inexpensive BLM site on the Big Hole River established sites, a host, water and pit toilets.

From there, continue east a few miles to the end of MT 43 and make a right onto the frontage road that takes you to Melrose, where there is a lodging/campground place and a restaurant.  Three options to get back on the TA.

1.  Stay on the frontage road to Dillon.

2.  Hop on I-15 (legal) to Dillon.

3.  At the south end of town, make a left onto Melrose-Twin Bridges Road (there should be a sign pointing the way) and take that to MT 41 at Twin Bridges.

The first two options are paved.  Option 3 is not, but it's a very interesting ride. Open land ((re)apply sunblock in Melrose) with free range cattle in areas.  I have done it on 700 x37c inverted tread tires.  There is climbing and descending and some rougher spots, but if you have right equipment and ride somewhat conservatively, the effort is worth it. During the three times I have ridden that road, I have encountered maybe 6 vehicles in total.   Last time I did I saw one vehicle turn off down a different road far ahead of me.  At one point I stopped for a break and could hear no manmade sounds at all, only the rustling of the grass, the calls of birds and the buzzing of insects.  This way also avoids a 12 mile shoulderless section of MT 41 between Dillon and Twin Bridges., which has high speed traffic, due in part to its straightness.  Unless it has taken a turn for the worse, the Bike Camp in Twin Bridges is a great place to stay. I have taken some rest days there as the town has just about everything you could need except a bike shop.

Another neat gravel section I proposed a long time ago is between Sheridan (the next town east of Twin Bridges) and Laurin.  The surface was benign when I rode it back in 2016.  And it avoids a stretch of shouderless highway (about 8 miles, IIRC) without bypassing any of the services in either town.  If it's not on the ACA map or its addendum, I can give you a ling to the RWGPS map.

Offline Brucev

I biked from Seattle to Kooskia last year(2022) and then on the trans am. I took the Beverly bridge to cross the Columbia and then on through Othello, Washtucna, to Pomeroy and on to Lewiston. Highwayn12 up the Clearwater from Lewiston to kooskia is horrible. I used to live in Idaho and had been on that road many times but not on a bike. By the time i got to Riggins i would have paid somebody to drive me to Kamiah. Ther was no shoulder in many spots and the white line as just painted on the gravel along the road it was that bad. It was June so lots of boat traffic and fisherman fishing for salmon and tons of truck traffic. It was part of the adventure but i would not want to do it again. Have fun be safe on that stretch.

Offline jamawani

I have cycled US 12 between Kamiah and Lewiston - - 20 years ago.
Even then the traffic was bad and almost no shoulder.
Since then they have installed Jersey barriers which allow for no escape.

Absolutely take the alternate route via US 95 thru Winchester.
Your family will be glad you did.

Offline j1of1

To clarify...Assuming I'm going E-->W for brevity sake.  Are you suggesting, from Kamiah to Lewiston I follow 64 west to 62 west, connecting to 95 in Craigmont?

Offline j1of1

I biked from Seattle to Kooskia last year(2022) and then on the trans am. I took the Beverly bridge to cross the Columbia and then on through Othello, Washtucna, to Pomeroy and on to Lewiston. Highwayn12 up the Clearwater from Lewiston to kooskia is horrible. I used to live in Idaho and had been on that road many times but not on a bike. By the time i got to Riggins i would have paid somebody to drive me to Kamiah. Ther was no shoulder in many spots and the white line as just painted on the gravel along the road it was that bad. It was June so lots of boat traffic and fisherman fishing for salmon and tons of truck traffic. It was part of the adventure but i would not want to do it again. Have fun be safe on that stretch.

From what I've read Hwy 12 appears to be a "death road" - to avoid at all costs.  I've read and will heed this advice.  Thanks!!