By the Numbers
Ridden anticlockwise, a long descent on a tree covered road followed by a fully exposed epic climb
The ride starts by riding behind the lodge and over the Nisqually River via a pretty cool bridge. This will lead through a campground and eventually onto NF-012, a modest gravel road, before hooking with NF-52, Skate Creek Road. It’s a relatively long descent of 16 miles into Packwood. The majority of the ride is along Skate Creek. There’s not much in the way of scenery or anything particularly unique about this portion of the ride.
Because the ride takes you out the Park, from what I’ve learned the Rangers don’t really care too much. If ridden clockwise, this short cut would have you entering the Park without coming through an official gate. Rider beware.
After turning on Highway 12 from Packwood, the climbing begins. You’ll see signs along the way about White Pass but you’re not riding that far – instead of staying Highway 12 you’ll be turning left onto Highway 123 and again left onto Stevens Canyon Road to re-enter the Park.
Once through the Park gates, it’s about 25 miles and 4500 ft of climbing to Paradise.
When I finally reached Paradise a family I had seen taking photos at the road side sign approached me and offered to send some photos they had taken while I was riding. I feel quite fortunate to have the above photo.
On the day I rode it was very hot & sunny and I underestimated the exposure. The prior’s day ride to Babyshoe Pass had significantly more tree cover on the climb. I made the decision leave the water filter which turned out to be a poor one as I had only two bottles for the entire ride. The Visitor Center at Paradise was closed for COVID so I was unable to refill.
Fortunately the ride from Paradise to Longmire is super fast & fun and I was able to get water back at the truck.
Riding clockwise would provide shade throughout the climb and sunshine on the descent from Paradise to Packwood.