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Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest route?

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Aug 14th, 2011, 10:29 PM
  #1
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Gifford Pinchot Nat'l Forest route?

We're considering traveling from Carson, WA to Randle, WA through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Google maps shows a possible route, but we are unsure of the road conditions: whether they're suitable for a standard minivan. Has anyone driven this route? Can you comment on its suitability? Are the roads marked, or is local knowledge required to navigate the roads?
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Aug 15th, 2011, 07:01 AM
  #2
mms
 
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I would not do it since you are not familiar with the area. Those roads are ok in late summer, but do have a lot of huge potholes, and most (if not all) are not paved. We take our four wheel drive vehicles there, but we live nearby and know what we are in for. You do not mention what time of year. If soon, they will be ok, but these do go packed with snow at other times and you don't want to attempt that.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 08:53 AM
  #3
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Thanks so much for your response. We are actually traveling that way today heading toward Seattle. We wanted to see Mt. St. Helens (not necessarily stop there), and someone on this forum suggested the "back" way. So it looks like the 5 the only other option?
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Aug 15th, 2011, 09:00 AM
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The Wind River Highway and Curly Creek Rd. are paved all the way to the east end of the Swift Reservoir. From there the 25 road is paved all the way to Randle. The top of the Elk Pass is only 4075'. It looks like the road is a little curvy.
Unless the weather looks threatening, it looks better than the I-5 route to US 12. It looks like you can take a picture of the east side of Mt. St. Helens from the Clearwater viewpoint.
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Aug 15th, 2011, 09:26 AM
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Yes, from Carson take 30, 51, and 25 to Randle--it is a perfectly good two-lane road.

About 15-20 miles south of Randle Highway 99 will take you into Mount St Helens for great views from the east side of the mountain. This is a very worthwhile experience.

However, since the mountain has been substantially leveled by volcanic action, you will not get good photos of it without driving on Highway 99.

HTTY
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Aug 16th, 2011, 10:56 PM
  #6
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We ended up taking the 25 north along the eastern side of Mt. St. Helens--a spectacular drive! We drove out what I think was Hwy. 99 (not labeled on our map) and stopped at Windy Ridge viewpoint (?) and had a great view of the volcano. Thanks very much for your help! I really appreciate it.
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Aug 22nd, 2011, 11:24 AM
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Thanks for the up-date.

HTTY
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Aug 22nd, 2011, 11:40 AM
  #8
 
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For a lot more information and maps of the Gifford Pinchot visit www.fs.fed.us/gpnf
I'll be in the GPNF south of Mt. Adams next month. I am participating in a Passport in Time program repairing and restoring the historic Gotchen Creek Ranger Station.
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Aug 22nd, 2011, 01:12 PM
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I guess I need clarity, as I was the person who likely first drew attention to that 'back way' toward Randle, WA.

Did you basically take the whole path, as directed by Google Maps, from Bend, OR to Randle, WA???

(indeed I did see the reference above to #25)

I guess I'd like to read a trip review of your eventual journey.

(gee, I'm gonna click on your name on the off chance...)
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Sep 4th, 2011, 11:16 AM
  #10
 
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We drove 25 along the east side of Mt St Helens last week. The signage along this paved route is pretty bad and once we took the wrong turn and drove for about 7 miles to find out it turned into a gravel road. So we backtracked and got back on 25 which took us right to Randle, but it was about a 4 hour drive. I wouldn't recommend doing this after dark or with a big motorhome because several parts of the road where collapsed into a ravine. Night driving would be very scary and slow. There is also a bridge washed out just north of the Giffor Pinchot National Viewpoint Clearwater.

Other than a very challenging drive in our Subura Forester the trip was gorgeous. The Clearwater viewpoint is fabulous and a great view of the National Forest and Mt St Helens.

Keep in mind when you get on 25 there are no gas stations, and no cell phone service.

Look forward to reading about your trip.
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Sep 4th, 2011, 11:42 AM
  #11
 
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Forgot to mention the bridge collapse is now a one lane bridge. Here is the article about the collapse in January http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/j...n-forest-road/
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