Windy Ridge Viewpoint – Mt. St. Helens, Washington

Panoramic from Mt. Adams to Mt. Hood

Wojtek, Linda and I had been discussing riding from Portland to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint overlooking the north side of Mt. St. Helens. ride for quite a while – even before Wojtek bought his motorcycle.  Most of the summer for one reason or another we could never find a single weekend day where everyone was free.   On Sunday September 9, 2018 we finally made it happen.  Linda and I met up with Wojtek and his dad, Janusz, at Love’s filling station in Troutdale.  After one last trip to the bathroom, the four of us fired up our bikes under deep blue skies and headed east on I-84 into the Columbia River Gorge. Riding on the interstate is usually pretty monotonous on a motorcycle but the Columbia River Gorge is the rare exception.  Although much of the fire damage from last years Eagle Creek Fire is still visible and most of the popular trails are still closed to foot traffic, the Gorge remains as amazing to ride through as always.  We continued east on I-84 to the town of Cascade Locks where we crossed the Columbia River at the Bridge of the Gods.  For reference, its the small jog to the north on the lower right part of the map. 

Windy Ridge Ride

Hillsboro to Mt. St. Helens

We continued east on I-84 to the town of Cascade Locks where we crossed the Columbia River into Washington at the Bridge of the Gods.  From there we continued east on Highway 14 through Stevenson, WA until turning north at Carson, WA.  After a quick stop for gas in Carson we rode 30-40 miles of beautiful twisties through the lush Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  This section of the ride is an absolute dream on a motorcycle as you’re constantly leaning left or right into super tight corners.  I was craving my S1000RR at this point but the GS is still fast and super fun. 

We made a pit stop at the Eagle Cliff Store in Northwoods for ice cream and something to drink before continuing on the Windy Ridge Viewpoint.  From Northwoods to Windy Ridge the road is still super windy but it’s no longer a dream for any type of motor vehicle.  Due to the shade from the trees, the sunken areas of the road are sometimes not visible until you’re right on top of them.  Not so bad if you can anticipate it but it sucks when your seat slams into your ass with easily enough force to launch you off the bike if you’re not careful.  In other sections the roadway is literally crumbling off the side of a cliff and in still others, large sections of the pavement are gone and replaced with gravel.  We still drove fast.

At Windy Ridge we walked a trail consisting of several hundred wooden planks set on a scree field to the top of Windy Ridge.  Although the sky was pretty overcast by this point the views were spectacular.  Not only are most the the major Cascade peaks visible from the top of the viewpoint one also gets a look down to Spirit Lake – famous for the thousands upon thousands of downed trees floating in it from the eruption.  There is also have a fantastic view of the Mount St. Helens crater and the new lava dome growing inside it. 

On the way back we stopped in Northwoods again because in addition to the market, there’s a pizza place and some picnic tables.  Linda and I ate the entire large pizza which sat like a rock in my gut most of the way home.  But what better way to re-energize for the ride home?  All in all this was a spectacular ride and one that I’m sure we’ll do again.  Maybe next time actually camp somewhere along the way so we have more time to enjoy the area.

This entry was posted in Motorcycle Trips.