Johnston Ridge

Trip Date: 7/27/2007


  • Elbe WA
  • MT. ST. Helens
  • MT. Rainier
  • 28 Foot Concrete Big Foot (Kid Valley)
  • Johnston Ridge Observatory
  • Coldwater Observatory 
  • Spirit Lake

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  • Falling Rock
  • Deer
  • I-5 & Cagers

Johnston Ridge Observatory Ride
MT. ST. Helens WA

16:9 Widescreen (400Kbps 16.8 MB) WA motorcycle rides roads MT St. Helen's Volcano Johnston Ridge Observatory Washington

Trip Details:

Johnston Ridge is a ride I like to make at least once a year. Clear Weather is crucial if you want the complete package out of this ride. I say this because I make it to MT ST. Helens maybe 3 time a summer. Usually once to Johnston Ridge and a couple rides to Windy Ridge. If you want to see the devastation inflicted on the forest, rivers and lakes that surround the mountain you really need to see it from both sides. The Johnston Ridge side was mostly impacted by the actual land slides and mud flows. The Windy Ridge side was scorched by hot gasses that blew down most of the forest. Trees left standing were stripped of all bark, limbs and foliage.  If you really want that perfect view of the creator you have to closely watch the weather and the volcano cam when planning your ride. Even then you may not get a clear view. Regardless the ride is well worth it. In the case of this ride, we had some of the best weather I have experienced up there. I'm sporting a deep red sunburn to prove it! Once again, this was a last minute ride. I had plans to do a group ride to Windy Ridge the next day (Saturday). Sunny and 80 said the weather man and "I'm sick" said I. I took a day of sick leave and immediately called WingMan to see if he wanted to put some miles on his new Dunlop Elite III's. He did and we rode! This was my first logged ride with my new 2007 silver Goldwing! I was really jazzed to find out if I was really a Winger! We met at Sprinker Rec Center in Spanaway at 8:30 AM and after some brief chat we headed to the Roy Y where we made a right on to hwy 507. The plan was to avoid I-5 like the Plague. To do so we made our way through Roy, McKenna, Centralia and  Toledo. I probably left a few towns out and maybe got the order wrong as well. I hate it when that happens!  The roads between Bucoda and Centralia are just great. Great scenery and enough twisties to put a big grin on your face. I was really amazed at how effortless the Goldwing was to handle in the turns. I had concerns it would handle like a cabin cruiser but the Honda design team came through once again! We took a break some where on the road side near Centralia. I'm not sure where exactly but it was just gorgeous out there. We took some pictures and WingMan ate a bunch of Blackberries off the vine near the road side. He sure was digging those Blackberries. Heck I even ate one. Not bad...

We headed south to Chehalis where we did the "Nasty" (got on to I-5) and took our place beside, behind and in front of the masses of cagers! I-5 was a 19 mile ride of mind numbing touring with the caged riders. But soon we exited on to hwy 505 and made our way through Toledo and Kid Valley. Ok, pay attention here! Kid Valley is a tiny town. Kid Valley is your last chance for fuel! It's 65 miles from Kid Valley to Johnston Ridge and back to kid Valley. All you riders with smaller tanks should top them off. When rounding the last turn in Kid Valley, on your immediate right is a Tourist attraction called the buried A-Frame. It's a A-Frame that was half buried by the mud flows. But the real attraction here is a 28 foot concrete Big Foot. We had to stop to get our pictures taken next to the 28 foot beast! We said our goodbyes to the large statue and rode on. As we rode closer to the mountain we start encountering newer WA motorcycle rides roads MT St. Helen's Volcano Johnston Ridge Washington of bridges that were replaced after the devastation. We stopped road side to  get some photo's of one of them and it had the date 1991 stamped into the concrete. This section was the largest of them all and was really cool to stand at the end and look down. It's a raised section of roadway and it was a long way down. In fact you look down on to the tops of the evergreen forest. The temp was really warming up and near 78 degrees. From this point on the roads were switching back and fourth as they led us up the hill sides that are near the Volcano. There are a few scenic view points and I recommend stopping at then all. At our second view point the parking lot was surrounded by yellow and white flowers bright in color. The view of the creator was getting better as well. We took about 15 minutes to snap some photo's and talk. We climbed back on to our Goldwing's  to head back out on the road and then it happened... What every Goldwing rider fear the first time! WingMan dropped his Wing! It all happened in slow motion. We were on a bit of a slope and I'm not sure if he thought his stand was down  (it wasn't) and it slowly went don to the ground like a sinking ship. And so did WingMan! I wasn't worried because I have seen these bikes fall over and the engine and luggage guards end up propping the bike up like stands. I snapped a few photo's of the awkward but funny moment and then I picked up his Wing for him. He was wondering how to do this and maybe you are to. there is a trick. Face away from the bike. Squat and grab the handle bar with your hand and turn it all the way into you. Grab the rear handle located at the base of the seat with your other hand. With your back straight hold tight and lift with your legs. Having never actually performed this I was quite surprised how easy it was. After a good inspection the only evidence of the spill was some very light scratches under the engine and luggage guards. You would have to lay on the ground to see them. Once again another indication that the Honda design team went above and beyond! WA motorcycle rides roads MT St. Helen's Volcano Johnston Ridge WashingtonA few more miles, twisties and view points and we rounded the last turn and entered the parking lot at Johnston Ridge. First thing I noticed was about 20 bikes and some RV's  all in an area near the rear of the lot. From a glance, every bike was a BMW. Right on! This was an opportunity to see some of the new models. I was a bit disappointed in the new 1200LT.  That's not to say it's not a well crafted machine, but it was the styling that didn't hit me with pleasure. It was too futuristic in it's shape and flow. I liked the older LT better that was parked just a couple stalls away. It was cool because we were looking at probably every recent model of BMW. I really like the looks of the Sport Touring model. As we looked them over one of the lady riders approached and we were able to find out they were all on some big 400 bike BMW ride. I have no idea where the rest of them were. As we walked into the Observatory I was eye baling the snack shack in the lot. A sign read Creator Dogs! I was getting hungry. We spent time at the view point then went in and looked over some of the information and displays. WingMan wanted to watch the movie documentary of the eruption. They have a small theater room where they show the documentary and it's part of the $8 fee.  The fee is a necessary part of maintaining the Observatories. Sadly, due to lack of revenue they are closing the Coldwater Observatory this fall. I have never seen the documentary so I was all for it. We walked in and found seating and watched the film. It was short but full of interesting facts. Once over the screen went up and WA motorcycle rides roads MT St. Helen's Volcano Johnston Ridge Observatory Washington red back drop of curtains separated and retracted to each side revealing a huge picture window with an incredible view directly into the creator. Wow! That was cool! We exited the observatory and made our way to the Creator Dog's. Usually I eat 2 normal sized hot dogs because they taste so dam good! So I ordered 2. That said, I would recommend 1. These dogs were the largest in diameter of any hotdog I have come across and really good. I could eat it all. Just 98%! After lunch we headed back down. From the map I couldn't tell if it was the continuation of hwy 504 or NF-27. What ever it was we took it and it lead us down to hwy 12. hwy 12 took us through some farm land and to Mossyrock Dam. My buddy is an electrician on this Dam and I got a private tour a couple years ago. It's not as big as the Mayfield Dam but still impressive. A few more photo's were snapped and we were back on hwy 12 heading towards Morton. From Morton on it was the basic stuff. After Elbe we went through Alder and the nice turns just after Alder. There are some fun twisties in this area if you can get some distance between you and the cagers. When I arrived in my drive way and powered down the 1832cc six cylinder touring bike I did some reflecting on the new bike and the roads we had ridden. I have to say this was one of those great rides (but then they all are) and I am extremely impressed with the handling of the new wing. I found it very well balanced with exceptional ground clearance for a touring bike. Most worth mentioning is this thing has NADS! Ok I said it! But it does... 118 HP 125 ft lbs of torque. What does this mean for the rider? Allot less down shifting and a much more enjoyable ride.

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