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Historic US Route 30 east of Troutdale?

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Historic US Route 30 east of Troutdale?

Old 03-22-20, 10:12 AM
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smontanaro 
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Historic US Route 30 east of Troutdale?

I'm visiting Portland for a few weeks (staying in Parkrose). Yesterday I rode to Troutdale, but turned around here:



I wasn't really planning on going any further anyway, but the road didn't look like it had much of a shoulder. For future reference, is that a decent bike route?
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Old 03-22-20, 11:03 PM
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Yeah, the nomenclature is a bit confusing and has a whole history to it. But what used to be referred to as 30, east of Troutdale, is now mostly called The Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway. There is really no shoulder to speak of, for the most part. It's a very old, very windy ( that is, curvy and with lots of wind), at times, quite hilly, stunningly gorgeous ride. You can go all day, if you like. All kinds of waterfalls. It is really just spectacular, if you are into the Gorge. And I am.

That said, I certainly don't mean to sound belittling or insulting in any way, but, I personally do not feel it is a ride for someone without significant road riding experience. Vehicles drive way too fast on parts of it. There's no room. No room for error. I have, myself, been in a head-on crash in a van on that road before! No injuries, thankfully.

Anyhow, it is well worth it if you have done that sort of thing before. If you go in the next couple of weeks, when temps can still be lowish, just remember, it can be much colder east of Troutdale than in the city. Ice is not at all uncommon out there. So be mindful.
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Old 03-23-20, 08:10 AM
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Thanks for the response. I've been riding the road since my college days (just retired a few months ago at 65). I'm used to Chicago's streets, so I'm not too worried about cars being close. Still, I might not venture too far into the gorge.
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Old 03-23-20, 09:23 AM
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You can always consider taking Washington S.R. 14 on the north side of the river, too. (It goes roughly from Vancouver to Umatilla, Oregon.) I've found it less intimidating, in terms of speed, than Hwy 84 east of Portland. Haven't cycled either, but I've done both routes many times in smaller vehicles.

There are several video travel logs out there, from folks who've cycled the routes ... on either side of the Columbia River Gorge. They can give you a glimpse of what you'd be dealing with on the roads.

Here are two:



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Old 03-23-20, 01:23 PM
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My take: The Historic Columbia River Highway (aka Historic Route 30, aka the old highway) is a pretty good bike ride, one of my favorites.

It is true that it is narrow and winding, but the views and the attractions make up for the deficiencies in road design. And I've found that the real problem area is from Stark St Bridge to Springdale, where the road is narrow, has blind curves, and heavier traffic. (You can avoid this section if you don't mind more climbing.) From Springdale to Corbett, the traffic lowers a bit, and there is about a three foot shoulder in most spots. Corbett east is the "tourist" part of the route, so people aren't going that fast, and are often stopping at every waterfall/attraction. Plus, grades on HCRH are 5% or less, engineered at a time when cars weren't powerful. And now with the car-free path open between Yeon and Cascade Locks, you can stay of I-84 all the way to Cascade Locks!

Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
You can always consider taking Washington S.R. 14 on the north side of the river, too. (It goes roughly from Vancouver to Umatilla, Oregon.) I've found it less intimidating, in terms of speed, than Hwy 84 east of Portland. Haven't cycled either, but I've done both routes many times in smaller vehicles.
But have you biked it? I have, and wouldn't recommend 14 over HCRH, at least west of Bingen. There is A LOT of tractor-trailer traffic, (HCRH has next-to-none) fast speeds, and little shoulder in many sections. Plus, there are several tunnels on WA SR 14 between Stevenson and Bingen. There are some nice moments on 14, like the view from Cape Horn, but biking is not that pleasurable of an experience, at least to me.

I'll also note that right now a lot of the attractions in the Gorge are closed (like Multnomah Falls) due to COVID-19. So it may not be the best time to bike out there.
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Old 03-23-20, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by adventurepdx View Post
Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
You can always consider taking Washington S.R. 14 on the north side of the river, too. (It goes roughly from Vancouver to Umatilla, Oregon.) I've found it less intimidating, in terms of speed, than Hwy 84 east of Portland. Haven't cycled either ...
But have you biked it? I have, and wouldn't recommend 14 over HCRH, at least west of Bingen. There is A LOT of tractor-trailer traffic, (HCRH has next-to-none) fast speeds, and little shoulder in many sections. Plus, there are several tunnels on WA SR 14 between Stevenson and Bingen. There are some nice moments on 14, like the view from Cape Horn, but biking is not that pleasurable of an experience, at least to me.
Haven't cycled either = haven't biked either.

As I indicated, I have been on both routes, both eastbound and westbound, numerous times on smaller vehicles (very small convertible car, and small motorcycle). Granted, not at cycling speeds, but very much aware of how close things were, availability of shoulder/passing/safety areas, prevalence of cyclists, and so forth.

I'll grant you, Hwy 84 definitely is a more "polished" roadway, in the sense that there are fewer surprises. But given the high rate of speed (of motor vehicles), it's not everyone's cup of tea if moving more slowly. Either approach is in the gorge and has similar views. Yes, the south side has more "attractions" to see within short distances of the main road.

The point of my post wasn't a recommendation for either one. The point was: there are options, and that one should evaluate. Hence the links to the videos covering both routes.
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Old 03-23-20, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
Haven't cycled either = haven't biked either.

As I indicated, I have been on both routes, both eastbound and westbound, numerous times on smaller vehicles (very small convertible car, and small motorcycle). Granted, not at cycling speeds, but very much aware of how close things were, availability of shoulder/passing/safety areas, prevalence of cyclists, and so forth.
I've been surprised how much that driving a route, even while thinking about it in a "Would I bike this?" context, is not the same as actually riding a route. Even if you are in a small vehicle or motorcycle, you're still going 3 to 5 times faster than you would on a bike. On the flipside, I've had drivers who have experience with a road tell me biking a particular road would no doubt lead to certain death, and then I bike it and have no problem.

Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
I'll grant you, Hwy 84 definitely is a more "polished" roadway, in the sense that there are fewer surprises. But given the high rate of speed (of motor vehicles), it's not everyone's cup of tea if moving more slowly. Either approach is in the gorge and has similar views. Yes, the south side has more "attractions" to see within short distances of the main road.
But we're not talking about Interstate 84, we are talking about the old highway, the one 84 eventually replaced. It's to the south of 84 and has all the waterfalls and Crown Point on it.

I have biked 84 through this section. It's not exactly a fun ride, but doable, especially if time is of the concern. But you don't have to bike an inch of 84 west of Cascade Locks anymore. East of Cascade Locks to Hood River, there is still about 10-15 miles you have to bike on 84. Thankfully, there's plans to complete a car-free path through this section, so one will be eventually able to bike from Portland to The Dalles on the Oregon side without hopping on a freeway.
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