EMA Summer Motorcycle Tour: Spirit Lake Highway

Summer has officially arrived in the Northwest. Inevitably, the road is calling to you. It happens every year, when the weather changes and the sun beckons, the breeze reminding you of all that lies beyond the city limits. Suddenly you can’t stop thinking about the next adventure on your bike, the fresh air and the possibility of discovering new places.

Throughout Summer 2017, Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys will be sharing some of our favorite motorcycle rides throughout the state of Washington. The first stop on our Summer Motorcycle Tour is Spirit Lake Highway.

Spirit Lake Highway map

Exploring Washington’s Spirit Lake Highway

Whether you’re a Pacific Northwest native or you are just visiting the Evergreen State, Washington is full of incredible locations worthy of your next ride. Our first recommendation will lead you to Mt. St Helens, touring a landscape that was dramatically altered by the volcano’s eruption in 1980.

Your tour begins in a small town called Castle Rock (exit 49 off I-5), considered the western gateway to the volcano. Here you will find State Route 504, also known as Spirit Lake Highway. If you’d like to stop for a bite before your ride is underway, there is a great local restaurant called Parker’s Steakhouse and Brewery located at the mouth of the road.

Once you are en route, expect 51 miles of curvy roads that weave through an environment transformed by the most destructive volcanic explosion in U.S history. Spirit Lake Highway was built at a higher elevation than it’s predecessor, which was buried during the eruption. The new road is in great condition and glides alongside the North Fork Toutle River, overlooking the river valley. You will witness nature’s resilience as new growth flourishes within the blast radius. Young vegetation covers much of the area and supports ecological restoration.

At the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument Visitor’s Centeryou can learn about the volcano and continuing efforts to rehabilitate the ecosystem. A 6-mile walking trail is accessible from the center that leads to Silver Lake and the surrounding wetlands.

Along the highway are multiple scenic viewpoints. You can stop, take photos, and look for wildlife. Coldwater Lake is located nearby, formed when rubble damned the creek valley and altered the topography. Take a closer look from the Birth of a Lake Trail; half-mile wooden boardwalk overlooking Coldwater Lake and the surrounding peaks. You’ll find bathrooms here in the picnic area.

Attractions and Scenic Views on Spirit Lake Highway

After 52 miles, Silver Lake Highway ends at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The Observatory is free to visitors. It’s a great spot to look out over the crater, lava dome, and deep fissures that snake down into the valley. You can access the Boundary trail and hike all the way to Harry’s Ridge Viewpoint for the best views. The entire hike is 8 miles, with a modest change in elevation that makes it a great trek for all hiking enthusiasts.

Between the driving and potential hiking, you’ll probably be getting hungry by the time you head home. Grab some hot food at the Observatory or wait for a more unique dining experience at the Fire Mountain Grill at 19 Mile House. The building has amazing views, and the food is just as great. For overnight stays, we recommend Silver Lake Resort, where you can rent lakeside cabins for the night and enjoy the sunset from your front porch. Eco Park Resort is similar and it is much closer to the Observatory.

If you plan to visit Spirit Lake Highway this summer, let us know! Feel free to share your photos with us on Facebook or Instagram.