Thursday, August 28, 2008

On my way to the Rally in Stevenson,WA via NF25

Saturday finally arrived. I had been spending the week packing and getting my scoot ready for the trip to the Columbia Gorge. While it was a long way, my original plan was to go by myself, alone, no riding buddy, no backup, no cell phone service. I may have decided upon Plan "B" if I had an older scoot, but my Kymco Xciting 500Ri was relative new (only 3 months old) and was "up for the challenge", but was I . . . ? I had been mulling over the map and my proposed route for a couple of weeks. I had been advised NOT to take this route by myself as NF-25 was in bad shape due to the extreme winter and heavy rains during the winter. Also warnings on the government website showed pictures of the bad road, and also NF99 was closed indefinitely due to a road collapse, and I really wanted to go to the Windy Ridge Lookout. I upgraded to this larger scoot so that I would have more route options. Being highway capable meant that I could take any road and be able to maintain any legal speed.
I left Vancouver around 7am and headed down Hwy 99, crossed the US/Canada Border and headed down I-5, switched over to 405 at Alderwood, continued south to Hwy 167. Little did I know that Hwy 167 is a nightmare. It is also known as Meridian Avenue and is a major traffic bottleneck area. Dozens of stop lights, stop and go traffic, but mostly STOP. I was having a hard time trying to find Hwy 161. After a while after taking some sideroads I finally found Hwy 161, then south on Hwy 7 towards Elbe


This is the postal outlet at La Grande, doesn't appear to be anything else here. I like to take photos of historic buildings.

I arrive at Elbe and noticed that there were a lot of bikers (and other people) sitting around this place having a hamburger, so I thought that if this place was so popular then the food should be good
Well, I ordered a Burger and it took nearly an hour to get it. So all I can say is if you are in a hurry then this place is NOT for you. And having to wait so long was a turn off, and it really wasn't good enough to warrant the long wait. I was really trying to make time and get to Randle before 2pm as I wanted to get out of the forest area before 5pm, and this stop really put me behind. Next time I will just skip this place and get a sandwich at the Subway at Morton which is only around 1/2 hour further down the road.

Elbe has a little museum and this engine. There is a washroom at the rear of this building if you need one.

We are entering Morton, WA. It's a larger town with more services including a grocery store. At the south end you will find a Chevron Station with Subway attached.
If you are going to go south on NF-25, then you should top up your gas tank here, for the next gas station is nearly 120 miles south at Carson, and the Shell station at Randle (I am told), is not always open.

Randle, WA: the north gateway to NF-25 . A short distance south on Hwy 131 you travel into the forest:

There is not much traffic on NF-25 and often I would just stop and enjoy the scenic beauty, such as this small lake.
This was Saturday afternoon on a summer weekend and I only encountered 2 cars and 2 motorcycles on this whole 80 mile section. The road is rough and the twisties just don't stop. If you happen to run off the road you could go over the cliff, or wind up out of sight in the bushes. cell phones will not work and you are strongly advised to let someone know where you are going so they can send out the search party if you do not make it to your destination.

This road is a biker's dream. There are numerous switchbacks and slow to 20 mph curves throughout the whole (80 mile) stretch.
I have read that some consider this combination of roads (NF25, NF51, NF90, NF30) to comprise the longest length of twisties in Washington state and I have found references to this road on a few motorcycle forums, so naturally, I had to experience this road for myself.

There are a few construction sites (road repair, and tree removal) along the way, and they are replacing this bridge that got washed out during the winter.


The road is badly patched, so there are dips and valleys, so if you are an agressive rider (ie: fast), then you will bottom out on your shocks. It happened to me numerous times. But although it is labelled "rough", it is not really as bad as the roads around Vancouver, BC, where the roads are a mess

On the southern section I came across some people fishing in the Lewis River

I mentioned earlier that NF99, the road to Windy Ridge Lookout was closed approx 6 miles from the junction of NF-25. Here we arrive where the road is closed
This is where then constructed another viewpoint area so that you could view Mt St Helens which is 11 miles away. The road is permanently closed . . . I am told because the NFS does not have the funds to repair the road which has collapsed. For now, motorized vehicles are not allowed past this point, but you are free to walk or bicycle the 11 miles to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint.

Here is the view of Mt St Helens from this viewpoint (from 11 miles away)

I am not sure, but this could be a view of the Toutle River just south of NF99 junction

All in all this was a great day for me. I started at 7am from Vancouver, BC and finally arrived at Stevenson, WA at around 6pm. It took me 11 hours by scooter to get to my destination. And I took the challenge to take NF-25 as my preferred route, alone. I am a cautious sort and let me say that if the weather was not so perfect, or I got "bad vives" of any kind, then I would have changed my route along the way. As I think about it I suppose that I was lucky that nothing eventful happened for 80 miles alone in a forest without the possibility of help, now frightens me a lot.


  1. Fabulous pictures,and I suppose the Kymco met your requirements. I actually remember a time when I ( and a few other hardy souls) rode motorcycles without a cell phone.

  2. Conchscooter:

    thank you. the cell phone is just a tool to keep you out of trouble, a necessary convenience of the modern world. Like yourself, I am trying to show you life in the Pacific Northwest. Not as warm as in the Florida Keys. Hope all is well as you seem to be getting more than your fair share of bad weather.