High Pass Challenge Ride Details

Event date: 
Monday, August 29, 2016 - 7:00am

Cost:  $60 - $100   Rider Limit:  600

The High Pass Challenge is a strenuous mountain ride that climbs over Independence Pass, then winds past scenic Spirit Lake on the way to the Windy Ridge Viewpoint in the Mt. St. Helens National Monument area. The use of this pristine route was made possible by a special arrangement with the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and Mount St. Helens National Monument. This is a ride you don't want to miss!

Beginning and ending in Packwood, Washington, the High Pass Challenge route uses low traffic paved national forest roads to explore the natural beauty that makes Washington special.

Are you up to the challenge?

Start - finish line

1896 Homestead Campground, Huntington Rd. of of Hwy 12 in Packwood, WA - start line open from 7 to 8:30 a.m. Parking opens at 6 a.m.

Day of ride registration will be available if the event does not sell out. Packet pickup and registration will open at 6:30 a.m.


At the start line - 1896 Homestead - No showers - $15 no advance registration needed. Camping check in is Sunday 2 to 8 p.m. Other campsites in Packwood - http://www.packwoodrv.com/


  • 6:30 a.m. - Packet pickup and registration opens
  • 7 a.m. - Start Line opens
  • 8:30 a.m. - Start Line closes
  • 1 p.m. - Finish Line opens
  • 1 - 5:30 p.m. - Free post-ride BBQ by Seattle Sausage Company
  • 5 p.m. Finish Line Closes

Timing to the Top

This year the HPC ride will again be timed to the top at Windy Ridge using timing chips that will be included in your packet. Post event we will post riders times on the web site so you can have bragging right among your friends. The first rider got to the top at 9:38 a.m. in 2014 (which is the current record). Instruction on how to install your timing chip PDF iconHPC Timing Chip install 2015.pdf

Medals awarded based on the time of day you get to the top 

  • 10:30 a.m. Gold Ribbon Medal
  • 10:31 - 11:30 a.m. Silver Ribbon Medal
  • 11:31 -  2:00 p.m. Bronze Ribbon Medal
  • All riders must be back to the finish line by 5 p.m. to receive their awards.

Route information - 2 route options for 2016

HPC full route ride

114 Miles – 7,457 feet elevation - http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4571160 

PDF of Map: PDF iconHPC Map 2015.pdfPDF iconHPC tick Sheet 2015.pdf

Riders get timing to top with timing chip, results listed on web site, finisher award and medal, BBQ, food stops and road support.

HPC Beautiful lower loop ride

Start from 8 to 8:30 a.m. - 61 miles 2,067 feet of elevation - http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4571078 

PDF of Lower Loop Map:  PDF iconHPC Map 2015 - Small Loop.pdf
PDF of Lower Loop Tick Sheet: PDF iconHPC tick Sheet 2015 - Small Loop.pdf

Riders get –finisher award, BBQ, food stops and road support. 

HPC by the numbers

  • 114 miles
  • 7500  feet of climbing
  • 10 hour time limit
  • 3 food stops 

Dinner & breakfast

Hungry riders, take note. For High Pass Challenge riders, Cruisers Pizza just east of the start line will offer a pre-ride dinner of all you can eat spaghetti (meat or meatless sauce) with bread sticks and salad for $14.95. You can also order of the regular menu and the bar will be open for business. Cruisers Pizza will also be open Monday morning for a breakfast special starting at 5 a.m.

Driving directions

From I-5 twelve miles south of Centralia take US 12 east for 64 miles to Packwood. Approximate driving time from Seattle is 3 hours.


Located at the Start/Finish Line - 1896 Homestead on Huntington Rd. off of Hwy 12 The cost is $5. All proceeds benefit the local community. Opens morning of the ride 6 a.m.

What to expect on the High Pass Challenge route

The High Pass Challenge follows a spectacular, but very challenging route. Expect incredible views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and of course, of Mt. St. Helens. As opposed to Johnston Ridge, Windy Ridge offers close-up views of the blast zone. One gets a real feel for the destruction wrought by the 1980 eruption, especially when peering down at Spirit Lake on the way up to the viewpoint. If you are planning on riding in this Cascade event, you're in for a real treat! The ride begins along Highway 12, with the first 17 miles to Randle on a gradually downhill, smoothly paved road with a very wide shoulder. Expect light traffic but occasional logging trucks. Randle is the low altitude point of the trip at 880 feet. Heading south on the smooth blacktop of NF 25, there's a warm-up climb at 19 miles into the ride. It's only 1.2 miles long with 400 feet of climbing, but the first half mile or so has an average grade of 8.3%; so that should get you in the mood for what follows.

At 26.5 miles, look for the first food stop at the Iron Creek Picnic area. Performance Bicycle will be there to help with any mechanical problems, and in addition to the standard food stop snacks and beverages. The stop is in a pretty spot shaded by large trees. As a matter of fact, once you head south from Randle, almost the entire route is in the shade until the Windy Ridge climb. Even with very light traffic, we recommend wearing bright clothing, and using a rear blinker light so you’re more visible in the low light. You should also consider using a lighter sunglass lens.

Fuel up at Iron Creek, because you’ll be climbing for most of the next 26 miles. Right out of the rest stop, a climb ascends 1400’ in the first 6.8 miles. You then get a few moments to relax on a quarter-mile flat section before starting up NF 99 to Windy Ridge. After you turn onto 99, be sure to drop by the mini food stop for water and a banana.

After 2700 feet of additional climbing, you’ll arrive at the next food stop on the usually very windy Windy Ridge. If you’re keeping track, that’s total of 4100 feet of climbing since the Iron Creek Food Stop.

Don’t linger too long at Windy Ridge, though, because your job is not finished. There is actually 1200 feet of climbing required to go back over Independence Pass, and retrace the route back to the Iron Creek Food Stop.

The descent from Windy Ridge is quite technical, and even though 99 has a smooth surface, there are patches of rough road. Please be extremely careful! And, once you’re on NF 25, you’re back into the shade headed downhill, so be extra cautious here too.

Once the road returns you to Iron Creek, it’s time to fuel up for the last 34 miles of your ride. As you leave Iron Creek, the route meanders along NF 76, a single-lane road with plenty of ups and downs. At 85 miles, the road intersects with Cispus Road. Things level off for a bit, but once you cross the river, you’ll have an excellent descent on a well-paved road as you get closer to civilization.

Approximately two miles before the C-Line Road, a water stop will let you top off for the last 15 miles back to the finish line.

The C-Line Road is a terrific way to finish this outstanding ride. This pleasant country road features short hills that will be a welcome relief compared to the ride up to Windy Ridge. Riders will have the option to take Hwy 12 back to Packwood. Turn right back onto Highway 12 for the last six miles of your High Pass Challenge adventure.

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